The Pet Shop owner has his say after RSPCA takes 34 dogs from his centre’s care

Robert Phipps.

Robert Phipps. - Credit: Archant

The Pet Shop owner Robert Phipps gives his side of the story after 34 dogs were taken yesterday by the RSPCA from his dog rescue centre at The Pet Shop warehouse on Commercial Road, March.

The Pet Shop discount warehouse.commercial rd March.

The Pet Shop discount warehouse.commercial rd March. - Credit: Archant

The rescue was born out of necessity approximately 18 months ago due to the number of dogs developing behaviour issues and this area being a passion of mine.

Since running the The Pet Shop on Station Road, March, I’ve helped hundreds of customers out with problems they and their dogs were experiencing and taken great pride in this work and done it solely free of charge as I just wanted to help the dogs.

When we expanded into our second larger premises on Commercial Road we started taking in unwanted dogs from other rescues that couldn’t cope - council run kennels throughout the country that had strays in and were due to put them to sleep after their seven days were up,

We took in some dogs with deemed severe issues that no other behaviourist could deal with.

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Vets would contact us to take dogs that had come in to be put to sleep for behaviour issues that they knew I could help fix. Strays would be handed into us after hours and at weekends as no-one else wanted to know or would help.

Others from members of the March and surrounding area that could no longer care for their pet but were let down by other organisations when they’d contacted them for help and were told no best get your beloved pet put to sleep no matter how young, happy and friendly that dog might have been.

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I even had to do a pick up of one such dog on Christmas Day 2013 as they needed the dog out that day as it had attacked their elderly dog and they were worried as they had children in the house yet no-one else they contacted would do anything to help.

As the rescue grew we started holding daily community dog walks where volunteers from the community and potential new owners could come along daily and meet the dogs and help walk them sometimes for up to two hour walks out into the glorious March countryside.

We rehomed many dogs this way and helped to socialise a lot of dogs too that their owners felt needed it and a great time was had by all.

The dogs loved meeting new people and this helped a lot with their rehabilitation.

As we expected and is always the case when you have a lot of animals someone called the RSPCA and they visited in January 2014.

They had no issues with the condition of the dogs as all were happy and healthy and in great condition.

I explained a lot of the dogs had been offered to them by members of the public but been refused but they didn’t want to discuss this.

The only issues they had was dogs are crated when not being exercised or mixing freely with the pack but I said that I along with many other rescues don’t believe in kennels as many of our dogs have come from that situation and developed stress and issues from it and they were walked three to four times a day.

Also we don’t have water in the crates as they’re not in there long enough to get thirsty and when we used to in the past the bowls were knocked over and beds were made wet within minutes of the dogs going to bed.

We tried different bowls, buckets, hook on bowls, bolt on bowls and so on but end result was the same and we don’t like the thought of them having to sleep in a wet bed all night.

They agreed no dogs were dehydrated and all in good condition. No paperwork or improvement request was given and they left all happy and friendly.

Yesterday morning at about 9am when the RSPCA representatives descended on the warehouse and told me they were taking all dogs away to be assessed.

No welfare issues, all dogs noted to numerous volunteers that they were in good condition, the only issue was the crates at night.

We’ve had no issues at Commercial Road with noise or environmental health in connection with the dogs.

The only issue we’ve had is some people wrongly assumed dog mess down the road was caused by our dogs but this was found to be members of the public walking their dogs down the road daily at night and not clearing up.

To be sure we didn’t get the blame again I took to personally dog poo picking the street every day and even started doing the path that runs along the back of Commercial Road leading to Norwood Road bridge which locals had dubbed Dog Poo Alley.

I now do this path twice a week and this is greatly appreciated by the local community who use it and hopefully the more people see it clean they’ll want to keep it that way and pick up after their own dogs so eventually I don’t have to.

The RSPCA took 34 dogs leaving four, two that were out of their crates and two that we’re in our isolation kennel.

Surely if any animal cruelty was suggested they’d have taken the lot?

Again no paperwork or official written reason was given, all we got was a receipt for 34 dogs like they were someone’s shopping!

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