20 July 2012

The Fight for Doncaster Reptile Show

The UK's largest reptile breeders meeting went ahead at the weekend following an unprecedented last-minute legal battle. Lawyers for the International Herpetological Society sought to enforce a contract with Doncaster Dome after they attempted to impose a restriction on the sale of animals at the event.

The proposed restriction followed intense pressure from animal rights activists utilising a legal loophole to challenge Doncaster County Council and venue management company Doncaster Cultural Leisure Trust. (DCLT) In addition to the legal challenges, PBW News heard that officials at Doncaster Council, D.C.L.T and organisers at the I.H.S have received death threats and threats of violence from animal rights activists opposing such reptile events.

Richard Brook is the event organiser for the IHS - "We have had a great relationship with The Dome for over eight years and we were disappointed they were subjected to such unfair pressure. This is a big step towards our goal to protect these events against attacks from anti pet-keeping extremists. Our meetings are a celebration of the reptile breeding successes in the UK and we are proud of the high standards of welfare, knowledge and education on display this weekend."

The meeting was attended by officials from Doncaster County Council and independent animal welfare inspector Tim Wass MBE, a former chief officer for the RSPCA. No legal infringements or animal welfare issues were found on the day.

The problems at Doncaster follow a long standing battle between animal rights activists and reptile event organisers and has seen two such events cancelled so far this year. The cause has been taken up by legislative experts at the Federation of British Herpetologists who are convinced of the legality and ethical integrity of the breeders meeting events. "These events are a showcase for the highest levels of reptile keeping in the country, if not the world. The action of a handful of ill informed and malicious extremists has forced us to go to court to defend breeders meetings. We are pleased to have won our case." says F.B.H. chairman Chris Newman.

Newman continued, "We know that there is a minor ambiguity in the amendment regulating the sale of pets left over from 1983. Our aim is to finish the parliamentary proceedings which should have updated this law over six years ago. Licencing these events is the only way to proceed and is in the best interests of everyone concerned."

Michael Hart, Chief Executive of Doncaster Culture and Leisure Trust said: "The IHS event took place at the Dome, Doncaster, this weekend (June 17) and attracted over 2500 visitors. As a responsible operator we work closely with anyone who wants to book any of our venues to ensure that they are complying with legal and licensing requirements. Prior to Sunday a number of meetings took place regarding the sale of animals at the event and ultimately the IHS was granted a high court injunction to allow the event to take place. We worked closely with the IHS and Doncaster Council regarding this event."


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