Wednesday, April 14, 2010

"You Can't Make This Stuff Up" #2

On the lighter side, here is a great little piece of silliness from our brothers in Great Britain.

A Pet shop owner in
England was fined £1,000 and told to wear an electronic tag... for selling a GOLDFISH to a boy aged 14! Her offense was to unwittingly sell a goldfish to a 14-year-old boy taking part in a trading standards 'sting'. At most, pet shop owner Joan Higgins, 66, expected a slap on the wrist for breaking new animal welfare laws which ban the sale of pets to under-16s. Instead, the great-grandmother was taken to court, fined, placed under curfew - and ordered to wear an electronic tag for two months.

The punishment is normally handed out to violent thugs and repeat offenders. The prosecution of Mrs. Higgins and her son Mark is estimated to have cost taxpayers £20,000 and has left her with a criminal record.

Under the British Animal Welfare Act 2006 it is illegal to sell pets - including goldfish - to children under the age of 16 unless they are accompanied by an adult. Pet shops must also provide advice on animal welfare to buyers. The maximum penalty is imprisonment for up to 12 months, or a fine of up to £20,000, or both.

The Higgins family's ordeal began when council officials heard that Majors Pet Shop was selling animals to children. They sent the 14-year-old schoolboy into the shop to carry out a test purchase and Mrs. Higgins sold him the goldfish without questioning his age or providing any information about the care of the fish. Mrs. Higgins and her son were charged with selling the fish to a person aged under 16.

Mrs. Higgins had possessed a license to sell animals for many years and had never had any problems before. She was fined £1,000 and given a community order with a curfew requiring her to stay home between 6pm and 7am for seven weeks. Mrs. Higgins did not have her license to sell animals removed, but both she and her son were told that if they ever appeared in court for a similar offense they could face a jail sentence.

Defending the goldfish case, Iain Veitch, head of public protection at Trafford Council, said: 'The evidence presented for this conviction clearly demonstrates that it is irresponsible to sell animals to those who are not old enough to look after them. Let this conviction send out a message that we will not tolerate those who cause unnecessary suffering to animals. The council will always try to support pet and business owners so that they are able to care for their animals properly, but where they continually ignore the advice they are given, we will not hesitate to use our statutory powers.'

The goldfish was later adopted by an animal welfare officer and is in good health.

Gee, it must be nice to live in a country that has so little serious crime that the courts have time to prosecute grandmothers for selling goldfish to teenagers…. You just can’t make this stuff up….

Today's Fun Sign

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