Pet shop owner Rob Phipps was warned about conditions inside at earlier inspection, court told on day two of trial

The Pet Shop Discount Warehouse, in March.

The Pet Shop Discount Warehouse, in March. - Credit: Archant

Inspectors told a pet shop owner they “didn’t approve” of the conditions inside his warehouse seven weeks before 34 dogs were seized, a court heard.

Rob Phipps.

Rob Phipps. - Credit: Archant

Rob Phipps, 36, of Elm Road, March, faces four welfare and one cruelty charge in relation to 34 dogs kept inside The Pet Shop Discount Warehouse in Commercial Road, March. The three-day trial, into its second afternoon, is taking place at Peterborough Magistrates’ Court.

RSPCA inspectors seized the dogs when they visited the warehouse on February 27, last year.

RSPCA chief inspector Mark Thompson told the court today he raised his concerns with Mr Phipps about conditions inside the warehouse during a visit to the premises on January 7.

Mr Thompson said: “We told him we didn’t approve of dogs being kept in those types of cages for an extended period of time, that there was a lack of good bedding and that there was no water was available in the cages.

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“Mr Phipps advised me that volunteers came and walked the dogs near March prison but he was still given serious advice that dogs should not have to live in those conditions and should have access to water 24/7.

“We made it clear we would revisit to ensure improvements occur. We would have expected to see a change within three to four weeks.”

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Defending, Sara Lise-Howe said no improvement notice was issued to Phipps and no timeframe was given for a re-visit.

Phipps was looking to make improvements including building new kennels, she said.

Phipps was told the RSPCA would re-home the dogs but refused the offer because he feared some of the dogs would be put down, Mr Thompson said.

He told the court: “We offered to relieve him of the dogs but he declined the offer because he thought we would put them to sleep.

“He said he would be willing for some of them to be re-homed but only if we gave him a guarantee none would be put down.

“We explained to him all dogs would have a three-week assessment with a properly trained professional and only if they were still deemed dangerous would they be put to sleep.

“If we were able to turn them around they would be re-homed. Since the dogs have been in our care, none of them have bit anyone or caused any problems.”

Veterinary surgeon Cees Bennett, who attended the February 27 inspection, said he feared the dogs would suffer if they stayed in the warehouse.

He said: “I felt, with the lack of space and water, the environment was likely to cause suffering if the situation continued.

“Having spoken to Mr Phipps I heard no possibility of that being altered and there were specific animals I was concerned about.

“I first talked with Mr Phipps about whether the animals could remain in situ and for an improvement notice to be given but then we had a philosophical decision and it became abundantly clear that he was not willing to change.

“It was then that my concerns became more acute and the decision was made it was better the animals were removed.”

Miss Howe said the cages were not soiled or wet, there was food in the dogs bowls and the dogs were not dehydrated.

The case continues

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