Rabbit Advocacy Animal Matters

 

UK animal rights coalition victory for pet store animals

Following is a brief summary of the saga of an illegal breeding operation in which animals were raised to stock the proprietor's pet shop in England and which now has finally been shut down. Bravo! Carmina Gooch

Southern Animal Rights Coalition UK http://www.sarconline.co.uk/porter/background/index.html

The Background

In late June 2005, several animal welfare volunteers entered 'The Old Fuel Depot', a site in Chichester owned by Mr. Phil Porter. Armed with video cameras, the volunteers video taped the scenes within.

12 dogs were being kept in illegal veal crates in a dingy, messy shed. The floors of the crates were inches deep with waste, clearly never having been cleaned. There was no water, or food for the dogs. The RSPCA later claimed that had they found the dogs in these crates, Mr. Porter would have been prosecuted - unfortunately on their many visits to the site, the RSPCA had failed to act. Outside of the outbuilding was parked a 4 wheel drive. Inside were two Dalmatians, again these dogs had no access to food nor water, and by this point in their investigation, the volunteers had witnessed that the dogs were never moved from this immobile vehicle. The RSPCA deny that this vehicle even existed. Also outside, in a rotting, and uncleaned run, were another two dogs. One of these was the breeding 'stud', who was riddled with tumours, was blind in one eye, and had severe muscle wastage, due to his lifetime confinement.

Mr Porter was using the Old Fuel Depot to run an illegal puppy farm, which he used to stock his local pet shop 'Furry Friends' (1, The Square, Barnham, Bognor Regis, W. Sussex, PO22 0HB). He has never been in possession of a license to breed animals.

As well as the 17 dogs, Phil Porter also kept hundreds of rabbits, chickens (including what appears to be fighting cocks), rats, hamsters, exotic birds, doves and pigeons in confined, and dirty conditions - all without access to adequate food or water.

As has been mentioned, the RSPCA had visited the site many times before, (and in fact visited just two weeks before the rescue operation) but no progress had been made and animals were left to suffer and die. The RSPCA still to this day deny they ever gained access to the site to check the animals. However they had been seen going on to the site by a neighbour and Mr Porter himself has confirmed that the Inspector had visited many times, and they had never found any problems with his site. It was decided that unfortunately action had to be taken, because animals were being left to suffer and die and so, after gathering video evidence, the welfare volunteers moved all of the animals into 3 vans, and took them to safety from the site.

Over 80 of the animals, including the 17 dogs, were taken to different counties, where loving and permanent homes were waiting for them. All of the animals required veterinary treatment, all of the dogs had mange, fleas and needed dental treatment, and many were suffering from muscle wastage and untreated sores. Several of the birds had plucked their own feathers out, and the rabbits were all infested with fleas, and many had injuries either inflicted by themselves, or another rabbit - many had injuries sustained through over breeding.

The intention was to rehome the remaining animals (all of whom had homes ready - but first needed medical attention), and then proceed to the media, police and RSPCA with the footage. Unfortunately a suspicious neighbour, who noticed the horrific state of the animals as they were unloaded from the vans, contacted the police. All of the animals found (the 80 mentioned earlier have not been recovered) were immediately returned to Mr. Porter, despite the RSPCA requesting that they be taken to a vet. The RSPCA Inspector was worried about the condition the animals were in but the police would not allow him to inspect Mr Porter's site before they were returned.

Mr Porter has since told the RSPCA that he does not have time to fit cleaning the animals into his routine. He has admitted confining the dogs in illegal veal crates, and the police and RSPCA have commented on the horrific conditions of the animals, and the disgusting state of the Old Fuel Depot.

Mr Porter was told by the RSPCA he would have to get rid of the animals that were returned to him as he did not have a license. The RSPCA offered to rehome them but Mr Porter declined.

Mr Porter is still keeping sheep and as recently as July 2006 has been given a warning by Trading Standards for leaving them unshawn throughout the heat of the summer.

In August 2006 we have yet again reported Mr Porter to the RSPCA for keeping a rabbit in a cage so small it cannot sit up. If it stretches out it has just one inch of space in front of it. We have visited Mr Porter and requested a larger cage for it, he has failed to act. When the RSPCA came to inspect, the rabbit and cage was not on display in the shop. The RSPCA believe that he had hidden it from them when he saw them pull up in front of his shop. We are calling on the RSPCA to revisit the shop as the rabbit is still there in cramped conditions.

  

Part Two: Bess the rabbit

Bess the Rabbit

Bess was a lovely British Giant rabbit rescued from Phil Porters breeding site at the Old Fuel Depot. When the police returned the animals to Mr Porters site she was concealed in order to get her the treatment she needed. For some reason the police wouldn't allow the animals to be taken to a vet and we knew that if she was taken back to Mr Porter she would have to endure more suffering.

Bess was in a bad way with open wounds, and was rushed to a vet. Her wounds had been caused by a buck Mr Porter was trying to breed her with. The filthy living enviroments for the animals would have made the infections worse. She was also malnourished, and simply didn't have the strength to recover from her injuries.

She received over £500 worth of treatment and the vets did everything they possibly could, but Bess was suffering so intensely there was no way she could survive.

Part Three: The Court Case

The Court Case

Four animal welfare volunteers stood on trial for the rescue of animals from Phil Porter. They pleaded not guilty to the burglary on the grounds that they did not act dishonestly and carried out the rescue due to the appalling acts of animal cruelty.

The judge in the case spared them prison, he said, "I accept that each of you was deeply troubled by what you saw at Mr Porter's premises and probably outraged."

"The smaller animals were being kept in conditions which, had the facts been known to the RSPCA, would have led to Mr Porter's prosecution for animal cruelty. Particular concerns were lack of cleanliness and questions of sufficiency of water and food."

The judge also refused to make a compensation order, saying: "Because Mr Porter was probably committing offences of animal cruelty, it was probably he would have had to dispose of these animals and birds."

Key Witnesses

• Mr Phil Porter (ex veal farmer, breeder and pet shop owner)

Mr Porter himself was a star witness in court. He openly told the court that he could see no animal welfare concerns with leaving dogs in cars throughout the summer heat, keeping dogs in veal crates, and leaving animals with contagious disease in with a whole menagerie of animals.

He was presented with the video evidence of his site in court, and asked to comment. He firstly told the court the footage showed the best bits of his site. As the court fell silent, he then told the court it was in fact the worse bits. He then changed his mind again and told the court it was the incriminating bits!

• Dr Roger Mudford: 27 years experience on pet animal behavior, and awarded the Blue Cross Animal Welfare award in 2005. This is what he had to say about our video and photo evidence:

"There is no doubt that this animal suffered considerably from the substantial unhealed wounds that I see in the photographs."

"Both dogs have matted hair and the Collie seemed to bear many scars upon his face, alternatively dried dirt. I consider these conditions to be inadequate and likely to have caused the dogs to suffer."

"Three, possibly more, dogs are shown in small metal runs, which may be calf crates used as impromptu kennels. In my opinion, these are quite inadequate structures for the keeping of dogs, and especially of the large black labrador seen in the film."

"Cross contamination and disease risk to these animals is very high, in addition to the psychological stress crowding incompatible species into a small room."

"I see no obvious signs of a hopper-feeder for the rats, and climbing or coming to the front of their cages would suggest that they were hungry when they were filmed. There is no doubt that the rats shown in the video were denied the essential five freedoms."

"Finally the video focuses upon a large grey-brown rabbit with a scar on its belly and wound to its perineal region. These were probably caused by fighting. The belly wound from being scratched (kicked) by another rabbit, the perineal from a bite. Denial of such care for rabbits with lesions such as these will rapidly lead to fly strike followed by a slow painful death."

• Inspector Lamport (RSPCA):

"This whole area was dirty and unhygienic and teeming with flies."

"These conditions would have contravened the Five Freedoms and would have been an unacceptable standard of keeping them."

"this was unhygienic and unacceptable as a hamster keeping standard and contravenes the Five Freedoms"

Part Four: Take action

Take Action (an excerpt) More at: http://www.sarconline.co.uk/porter/action/index.html

Contact the RSPCA and insist that they keep Mr Porter under close observations.

• Point out to them that RSPCA Inspector Lamport told Chichester Crown Court that Mr Porter could have been prosecuted for animal cruelty based on the living conditions of the animals at the Old Fuel Depot, Chichester. Ask that they do prosecute Mr Porter for animal cruelty, so that he can be banned from keeping animals.

• Ask the RSPCA why they failed to save the animals in Porter's care despite receiving several complaints from the public and despite the fact that Kirsty Hampton RSPCA Inspector had been on his site on numerous occassions. Ask the RSPCA to investigate why Kirsty Hampton denies ever going on to his site when she has been seen doing so and when Mr Porter has confirmed this fact.

• Ask the RSPCA to investigate why Kirsty Hampton RSPCA Inspector failed to save the two dalmations living in a car throughout the heat of the summer at the Old Fuel Depot. Kirsty Hampton denies seeing any vehicles despite the fact that on the same day she went to inspect the site we video recorded the dogs inside a car without access to water.

Conclusion: Targeted pet shop to stop stocking animals

Targeted pet shop to stop stocking animals

Thursday, January 11 2007 @ 09:54 AM UTC

From SARC: On December 31st 2006, a sign went up in the window of Furry Friends stating that, "As from 1st of January 2007 Furry Friends will not be selling pets due to pressure from the on going animal rights protests."

Following SARC's expose of Phil Porter's horrific animal cruelty in the summer of 2005, the aim of this campaign was to get Phil Porter banned from keeping animals and / or force him to stop breeding and selling animals in his pet shop. The recent announcement follows on the heels of our successful campaign to get Mr Porter evicted from his breeding site/puppy farm.

We have therefore reached the situation that no animals can be bred or sold from Furry Friends' pet shop, and Phil Porter currently has no other breeding facilities available.

We would like to take this opportunity to thank everyone who attended protests, wrote the letters, made the phone calls and helped finance the campaign. We would also like to extend our thanks to the local residence who joined the boycott en-masse, and who provided us with vital information. The local support for the boycott was so effective that Mr Porter commented to the RSPCA that it was forcing him towards bankruptcy, a sentiment he echoed on local radio and in newspaper interviews. To read about the campaign visit http://www.sarconline.co.uk/porter/

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