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Pet shop owner slated for feeding bunnies to snakes

A Johannesburg pet shop owner and the National Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (NSPCA) were at odds on Wednesday over whether snakes should be fed live rabbits or not.

NSPCA Inspector Phillip Roberts said he was ”disgusted, repulsed, and very angry” when he went to the pet shop and saw live rabbits in the snake containers.

This was a violation of the Animals Protection Act, he said. He also objected to young children ”as young as 11” being allowed to watch the snakes feeding.

Roberts said he had spoken to the owner about it before, and was now gathering evidence in order to prosecute him.

However the owner of the shop, Ian Scheepers, responded: ”All rabbits eaten by the snakes were already dead.” Photographs taken by the NSPCA would confirm this.

He accused the NSPCA of involving itself in ”meaningless litigation”, instead of protecting animals from harm.

”Is this a stunt on the part of the NSPCA to get the public to give them more funds?” he asked.

He said Roberts acted illegally when he ”barged into my establishment without the necessary paperwork and started taking pictures”.

Scheepers believed his shop, Repti-pet, provided an educational service to the community in educating them about animals and what they ate.

”If anybody is offended when seeing a dog, cat, bird, fish or snake eating, we apologise,” he said.

Roberts said the NSPCA made a point of prosecuting people for what he described as cruelty. ”That is our fundamental purpose. It [feeding animals live prey] is unacceptable.”

When asked how he suggested Scheepers satisfy the needs of his snakes, Roberts said he should have thought of that before going into business: ”It’s not up to me to say what he should do now”.

He said the Animals Protection Act prohibited people from causing animals to be ”terrified” or from ”exposing them to immediate attack”. – Sapa

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