Pet shop owner Rob Phipps found guilty of three animal welfare offences, cleared of three charges. He is set to appeal

Rob Phipps.

Rob Phipps. - Credit: Archant

Rob Phipps, owner of The Pet Shop, in March, has tonight been found guilty of three animal welfare offences, including causing unnecessary suffering to a dog. He was cleared of three charges. He has confirmed that he will appeal the verdict.

The verdict from deputy district judge Boswell came after a three-day trial at Peterborough Magistrates’ Court.

Phipps, 36, of Elm Road, March, was charged in relation to 34 dogs kept inside The Pet Shop Discount Warehouse in Commercial Road, March.

Deputy district judge Boswell took about an hour to reach his verdict, which was delivered shortly after 5.30pm.

Phipps was found guilty of:

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• Failing to provide a suitable environment for 34 dogs,

• Failing to provide the dogs with an appropriate supply of drinking water, and

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• Causing unnecessary suffering to a dog by housing them in cages next to each other, allowing them to fight through the bars and cause injuries to each other.

He was found not guilty of:

• Failing to maintain an appropriate body condition for three dogs, and

• Failing to administer medication to a dog.

Summing up, deputy district judge Boswell said: “This man had the very best of intentions but simply took on more than he could handle.

“However, this is a serious case. As an experienced dog handler he should have known that keeping dogs in those conditions was wholly unacceptable.”

Phipps was disqualified from keeping dogs for three years and was sentenced to a 12-month community order and 180 hours of unpaid work. He was also ordered to pay £1,000 costs and a £60 surcharge.

A deprivation order was also made, so the dogs remain in the care of the RSPCA.

Following tonight’s verdict, RSPCA chief inspector Kat Parfitt said: “We are satisfied that this case was heard and that a fair judgement was made.

“The reason we go to court is to set acceptable standards in the care of animals.”

After the guilty verdicts and the sentence were served, defence solicitor Sara Lise-Howe told the court that an appeal will be lodged.


The dogs were kept in crates overnight without access to water. Some cages had two dogs inside.

One dog suffered facial injuries where their cages were pushed closely together and they were fighting.

One dog later lost an eye because the vets could not save it following infection for a fight injury.

There was blood where dogs had been fighting and some dogs had excrement in their cage.

Phipps said he was willing for the dogs to be re-homed but could not get a commitment from the RSPCA that dogs would not be put to sleep.

He said he would rather have dogs in crates than in kennels, where they are “not happy” and “spinning”.

He said the dogs would normally be in crates overnight from 10pm to 8am. In the morning, they would be let out for water and fed.

Dogs would be walked two to three times a day and the crates would be cleaned every day, Phipps said.

He estimated he had spent thousands of pounds on vet bills to ensure dogs got the appropriate care.

Phipps said the dogs were getting an appropriate amount of food and exercise, and were well hydrated.

If there were two dogs in the same cage, it was because they were brother and sister and “could not be separated” due to their level of attachment.

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