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Discussion Starter · #1 · (Edited)
** DISCLAIMER.. THIS POST IS THE OPINION OF THE WRITER AND IS NOT THE BE ALL AND END ALL... It is designed to help people who are unhappy with a shop and would like to help improve the conditions.. opinions welcome **
The original was written in 2007, this post has been updated as of February 2015.

Over the course of the years I have seen many questions regarding reptile shop conditions. I wrote this original guide in 2007 when I myself had been running a reptile shop only for a few months; opening it because I was unhappy with the other local options at the time. Now, almost 8 years later in 2015 I have updated it with more up to date and accurate information.

Before you do anything: Stop and think about what you are doing and why you are doing it. Remember that pet shops are temporary homes for animals. Remember that reptile keeping is not a strict science, and that there is a big difference between the opinion of not being happy that an animal has no thermostat, and seeing an animal that has untreated open wounds.

Read this document for reference.

1. Focus on improving animal conditions and not on a personal grudge.

All too often complaints and accusations are made from personal problems. It is impossible for any shop or breeder to be perfect. Mistakes will be made. Reptile shops do not have long quarantine times and sometimes it is impossible to know that a reptile that has been recently purchased is hiding a long term complaint. As a consumer you have rights but the most important thing is to try to work out what is the problem and how it can be fixed.
Do not let a personal problem, or a single incident cloud your judgement and make you act in anger. When you are trying to improve a shop your intent should not be to hurt someone you do not like, to get revenge for some perceived injustice; it should be to improve the conditions to an acceptable standard for the animals.

2. Speak to the Manager / Owner

Before you go off guns blazing - speak to the manager and/or owner of the establishment. Talk to them about what you consider the problem is.. Sometimes, ignorance is the cause of problems, sometimes, shopkeepers are just very busy, and the animals suffer. Them knowing that people are noticing and not happy about it, may make them spend more time, or perhaps employ more staff.

If you think an issue is staff knowledge, take in information such as the Proteus, Compass, and Tortoise Trust courses, and suggest that perhaps some time could be wisely spent on education. This will look good for the shop when they reapply for their license as well as hopefully help the animals.

However, also bear in mind that animals in shops may be in temporary enclosures and these are almost always going to be smaller than a regular enclosure. Bear in mind that an animal that is ill, may be getting treatment. It should not be for sale whilst ill, but could still be on display. You do not know what the situation is; whether something is a rescue or rehome, whether it came in that way, whether a vet has seen it the day before and it is on medication. Try not to judge by looks alone; if you have a query, then speak up.
There are plenty of hobbyists and reptile keepers who will see conditions and think that they are cruel but it is in fact the hobbyist who is incorrect or ignorant. Try to keep an open mind and listen to what the staff have to say. Maybe you will be educating them; but perhaps you will learn something new too.

3. It's not working.. what do you do?

a) Well, first I would like to say.. what do you not do.

Don't publicly name & shame unless you are willing to provide proof of your accusations. Current slander/libel law makes YOU responsible to prove your accusations are correct. It is not the onus of the accused to prove you wrong.

If you are prepared to take on the responsibility of public defamation, please think before you make that the responsibility of third parties - by posting it on a website, the owner of that website is legally liable for publishing the information. It is the owner of the website's responsibility to censor information that breaks laws, and for this reason, on places such as forums, like RFUK, you will find your posts removed and you may get into trouble for it. This doesn't mean people don't agree with you - it means their hands are tied. Please do not name and shame any negative problems with shops on RFUK. You can ask for advice in a general fashion without giving the name of the shop. Please don't get mad at moderators for enforcing the rules that are given to them to enforce.

You don't have to create a public outcry for problems to be fixed and when you focus on trying to give somewhere a bad reputation it looks like you have a personal grudge against them.

b) Who to report your concerns to

The Local Council
Each local council has a licensing department which is in charge of issuing pet shop licenses. Each council can set specific demands within their licensing terms. You will have to contact them to get these terms (they will give them on request, or many websites have it publicly downloadable). You should address your letter, email or phone call to the licensing department, and ask for it to be forwarded to the vet inspector for the region additionally.

RSPCA
The RSPCA is not the correct port of call. They are an animal charity and not a police force. Whilst they do often work with police who are removing animals, they often do not have an adequate place for those animals to go. They will often hand them out to another reptile shop in the area if there are no other rescues/charities. The RSPCA does not offer any funding for their care. The RSPCA does not have the ability to remove animals themselves and they do not have the ability to affect licensing.

Trading Standards
Trading standards can be contacted if you feel that your rights have been breached, ie. something was sold to you and is not as described. Legally items have to be "as described". However trading standards themselves are not knowledgeable on pets or reptiles, and it is most likely they will go back to the first port of call - the local council, and ask the councils vet inspector to visit. You might as well go direct!
Trading standards is more suitable when dealing with regular consumer disputes than pets.

Other Rescue Organisations
No other rescue organisations in the UK have power over pet shops but if you have a local rescue then it might be beneficial to contact them privately and ask for their opinion. If they are more experienced with a wide range of reptiles and problems they may be willing to visit the shop with you and give advice on whether you should contact the council or if the conditions are acceptable.

4. Making a Report, what to say?

Be honest. Be open... but don't be too emotional. They need facts, not a rant. Describe accurately what you have seen, include photographs if possible. If referencing what you have been told by staff, try to include the name, or a description of the member of staff. Leave contact numbers, home address, telephone number, etc. If you are affiliated with another reptile business, it is worth mentioning it, rather than it being used against you in retaliation. Address your concerns, and politely ask for someone to contact you to discuss them.
 

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Discussion Starter · #2 · (Edited)
I am removing my post on this as I feel like the "guidance" sections in the below document covers things far better.

If you want to know specifics on what conditions are acceptable / not acceptable in a shop, please take the time to read this link
 

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i think it's important to add that i talk to alot of local reptile shops in and around my local area. and a few say that they get lots of people who think that they know best and that there is no way appart from their way of doing things.
forum politics aka forum rules.
i think it's very important to add that there is no one reptile keeper that is alike in their style.
it is important to talk to the shop assistant or owner but NOT to lecture, chances are they've learned through trial and error over a much longer period than you.

main message - STOP - THINK - TALK - DON'T JUMP DOWN THROATS - AND REMEMBER YOUR WAY MAY NOT BE THE BEST WAY. we all learn all the time so to make general assumptions is not the best way.
 

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This is an excellent thread upon a very important issue. All Pets shops that sell live animals, be it reptiles, fish or mammals, are licensed and regulated by the relevant Local Authority. Therefore, theoretically, there is no excuse for a ‘bad’ pet shop to exist. However, the problem is those who licence such shops are given very little training or support in implementing the licensing regulations. For example most pets shops are licensed by the Environment Health Officer who’s main job is environmental health issues and the licensing of pet shops is 0.5% of there usual job. They may well have some training or knowledge of what might be considered ‘normal pets’ but have absolutely no idea about exotics such as reptiles. This is then further exacerbated when the shop owner moves into reptiles themselves for the first time, the blind leading the partially sighted!

Last week REPTA in conjunction with the Pet Care Trust and the Ornamental Aquatic Trade Association, sent a full colour leaflet to ever Local Authority in the country offering free advise to licensing officers. If anyone would like a copy of the leaflet I can email a PDF version of it. Already we have received several enquiries from EHO’s wanting advise on reptile issues. I would also be very interested to hear from anyone who might be interested in helping with the project in terms of offering local advise to licensing officers, or perhaps visiting with the officer to given them and the shop owner advice if necessary. I must stress this project is purely there to raise standards and assist the reptile industry – ‘want a be’ traffic wardens or ‘pseudo’ law enforcement need not apply…
 

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i agree

you can never no enough so i say u are always learning every one is diff so every 1 should hear how every 1 else keeps reptiles top marks for those that listen
 

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Cardiff Reptile Centre

Hi,

Not sure this is place to say this but ..........

A lot of people it seems have been commenting on "Cardiff Reptile Centre" in inappropriate threads on this forum.

I would like to take this opportunity to say that I visited the shop for the first time today and am very impressed by the set-up at the shop and also the friendly welcome I got from the staff, even though they were in the middle of feeding and cleaning the animals. At no point did see any herps being housed or treated in any way that would be harmful.

GOOD LUCK Leanne with your new venture, I hope to be dealing with you in the future.

Regards
Sean
 

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Don't publically name & shame unless you are willing to provide proof of your accusations. Current slander/libel law makes YOU responsible to prove your accusations are correct. It is not the onus of the accused to prove you wrong.

If you are prepared to take on the responsibility of public defamation, please think before you make that the responsibility of third parties - by posting it on a website, the owner of that website is legally liable for publishing the information. It is the owner of the website's responsibility to censor information that breaks laws, and for this reason, on places such as forums, like RFUK, you may find your posts removed and you may get into trouble for it. This doesn't mean people don't agree with you - it means their hands are tied.
I'll shut up after this post because I got the message but surely this can't be right, or it would at least be impossible to be enforced. Can you imagine if anyone who's been insulted in the forum (and there has been quite a few including myself many times) would decide and sue the forum ?

In that case a forum would not be able to exist, and nearly no subject would be allowed to be brought up.

By the way, it's not only reptile shops, I can quickly pick out threads slagging off Tesco, Asda, Curries, RSPCA (well there are loads about this), recently Proteus got a lot of bashing in a particular thread, etc.

So it's funny that this is only observed when some big shops come into the discussion. It's laughable how scared some of you seem to be about what this or that breeder / shop might think or do, while other 1000 similar threads went or go by un-noticed.

By the way, the thread I started and got locked was not even a criticism as such, and I would not have to have any proof to what I said with the info I gave. I saw that a couple of people have given strong opinions, but as you rightly pointed out, if they are members of the forum, they would have the same freedom of speech to come round and give their explanation to that only single question, and challenge anyone who made comments they might not be in accordance with.
 

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I'll shut up after this post because I got the message but surely this can't be right, or it would at least be impossible to be enforced. Can you imagine if anyone who's been insulted in the forum (and there has been quite a few including myself many times) would decide and sue the forum ?

In that case a forum would not be able to exist, and nearly no subject would be allowed to be brought up.

By the way, it's not only reptile shops, I can quickly pick out threads slagging off Tesco, Asda, Curries, RSPCA (well there are loads about this), recently Proteus got a lot of bashing in a particular thread, etc.

So it's funny that this is only observed when some big shops come into the discussion. It's laughable how scared some of you seem to be about what this or that breeder / shop might think or do, while other 1000 similar threads went or go by un-noticed.

By the way, the thread I started and got locked was not even a criticism as such, and I would not have to have any proof to what I said with the info I gave. I saw that a couple of people have given strong opinions, but as you rightly pointed out, if they are members of the forum, they would have the same freedom of speech to come round and give their explanation to that only single question, and challenge anyone who made comments they might not be in accordance with.
I havnt looked in to this situation fully, but no one could sue RFUK for what you said Dex because it is true... you made an observation and posted it.

Your thread was locked to prevent a free for all of people shooting down a reptile shop and giving personal opinions (rather than fact) on a matter that should be taken up directly with the shop. We havnt stifled your rights to state your opinion or make your point, your thread remains for all to see.. it was locked to prevent an unfounded downward spiral of negative comments as we see to often when discussing what a shop may or may not have done.

I will just reiterate that the intention of the mod that locked this was to let you state your claim, but prevent a thread that would potentially end in a bad way for a reptile business. We dont particularly want to be publishing negative threads about reptile shops in the UK do we? why give the antis any more ammunition over something like bulb protectors when this could be discussed with the shop in question, if like in your case you are shy... then send an email to the shop or contact me so I may approach the business on both yours and RFUK's behalf.

Cheers
 

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Cheers Chris, I've already replied to Christy and Nige, and to be honest, I calmed down since and won't make any more fuss about it.

One way or another, things could have been conducted in a better way, but to be fair, I won't lose my sleep over it. It's just weird that 99.9% of similar cases went un-noticed, but as soon as a particular shop came into the discussion, the thread got locked.

The only thing I'll be very surprised is if they decide not to make any comments, because then it will look weird that they would rather threaten and get the thread locked rather than just giving a quick explanation to a simple point. For instance they could just come round and said: 'we keep reptiles for 200 years and none ever got burnt'. That would be more than enough to calm me down and maybe think I over-react when I see people not using lamp guards, although all the evidence I've seen in my lifetime as a keeper is that you have no excuses not to use a lamp guard.

In regards to others making unfair criticism, I'd not worry a bit if their posts were deleted, because it wasn't my intention to slag them off, it was just a way of bringing up a small observation hoping that someone who knows them would just give them a quick suggestion.

But never mind, I won't make this mistake again.
 

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By the way, I've just been informed, that shop has absolutely nothing to do with the thread being locked. Apparently none of their staff or associates have logged in tonight, which undermines my conspiracy theory.

So that sounds even more weird, that they didn't even need to worry about getting upset. The whole world seem to be so scared of them, that it's almost funny. You can say whatever you want about the prime minister or the pope, but don't dare to ask them a question they might not like, otherwise people will get sued.

I'll just publicly apologise to Christy, because I felt she got upset with me. I know I can get really wound up when I feel I was unfairly treated, but it wasn't my intention to vent my frustration on her in particular.
 

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Discussion Starter · #12 ·
I'll just publicly apologise to Christy, because I felt she got upset with me. I know I can get really wound up when I feel I was unfairly treated, but it wasn't my intention to vent my frustration on her in particular.
We all get frustrated sometimes, I don't blame you.. all the moderators are just trying to do what's best for the forums as well they can, I was perhaps a bit frustrated that you couldn't see it from my point of view but hey, if we always agreed life would be pretty boring :)
 

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By the way, I just got a message by the owner of said shop, and he explained to me the reason why they aren't using lamp guards and it made a lot of sense.

I asked him to include his reply in that thread that got locked so that it would close the matter, and no one would be under the impression I had when I visited the shop, but it will be down to him if he wants to do so or not.
 

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Local council never have a clue. They are a bunch of idiots that often don't even live in the area where they work (or should be working).

They can barely be bothered to listen to you in regards to basic duties such as burn street lighting, street cleaning, vandalism, etc. Obviously they would not give a shite about animal care, unless you're lucky enough that one of the councilars happen to be a reptile keeper.

They are a bunch of mercenaries who only care about their fat wages and the pensions they will be entitled to having done little or no work.

If I was very worried about a certain shop, I'd first write to them (I don't like to have a go face to face), and see if they answer your questions in writting. Other than that, you could liaise with rescue centres, because often they know who has the power to go and inspect these places.

Alternatively, you can write to your local paper and tell them your story. Through my experience, newspapers are always after new sotries, and they are generally good at investigating and quick in writting articles. Just make sure you write a nice story, being honest, not exaggerating anything that can be used against you or our hobby in the future.
 

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right... think this is the right place to ask, about a week ago i went for a look in a rep department, they didn't have a lot there and most of the live stock wasn't for sale, wether they were having treatment or bein used for breedin i don't know i didn't ask, anyway there was an adult corn snake that WAS for sale and i'm sure that i saw something resembling a tick crawling over the substrate, so i had a closer look at them all and wasn't very happy, in fact i came out feelin quite depressed, i'm not a busy body and i don't like complainin but i can't stop thinkin that i need to do somethin, so what do i do?
 

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right... think this is the right place to ask, about a week ago i went for a look in a rep department, they didn't have a lot there and most of the live stock wasn't for sale, wether they were having treatment or bein used for breedin i don't know i didn't ask, anyway there was an adult corn snake that WAS for sale and i'm sure that i saw something resembling a tick crawling over the substrate, so i had a closer look at them all and wasn't very happy, in fact i came out feelin quite depressed, i'm not a busy body and i don't like complainin but i can't stop thinkin that i need to do somethin, so what do i do?

does nobody have any ideas/suggestions?
 

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Firstly, you should have politely pointed this out to a member of staff / manager/owner, if they where breeding, then chances are they would be disturbed as little as possible, and maybe went unnoticed. If you have any experience with mites, you could also suggest a few remedies for it.
If you then go back say 14 days later ( this would give the mite cycle time to be completely destroyed) and nothing had changed, then go with the advise on the OP's first post.
 
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