Animal Aid

VICTORY! DIY chain halts sale of pets

Posted 1 February 2002

Daily Mail articleThe following article appeared in the Daily Mail, 6 February 2002.

Britain's second largest pet retailer is to stop selling all animals except fish. The decision by the Focus chain of DIY stores follows revelations that its bird supplier had been investigated amid accusations of cruelty.

The Daily Mail warned Focus that the boss of Safari Select had convictions for selling endangered species and that the firm appeared to sell birds trapped in the Wild. Focus said it had believed all exotic birds, ranging from finches to macaws, sold at its 70 Petworld departments were bred in captivity.

Yesterday it issued a statement saying: 'The contract with Safari Select, who supply the company with birds, has been terminated, following a Focus investigation into its supply source.' Chief executive Barry Norris said: 'Furthermore, the policy of the board is to discontinue the sale of all animals, except for fish.'

The company's decision to pull out of a multi-million pound business also follows pressure from animal welfare campaigners. They had argued it was wrong to sell animals 'like cans of paint'. Bird sales have been lucrative for Safari Select and Focus - formerly Focus Do It All - with finches selling for around £7 and macaws for up to £1,800. Focus whose trade in pets is second only to Pets At Home, said it would sell existing stock 'to customers who appear to our staff to be keen to offer a good home to the animals'.

Animal Aid, which led the investigation into the source of the exotic birds supplied to by Focus, said: 'We are delighted and uplifted with this decision.' However, the organisation, which last year persuaded the DIY chain to stop selling reptiles, said it hoped Focus would go further by abandoning the sale of fish.

Focus's decision to halt the sale of birds is a blow to Kent-based Safari Select, which earned an estimated £60,000 a month supplying Petworld departments. It also supplies other pet shops across Britain. Its boss Phil Dobinson, 35, featured in a 1992 TV investigation by Roger Cook into illegal bird imports. Dobinson has convictions from 1989 and 1990, including causing unnecessary suffering to an eagle owl and a Yucatan jay, unlawful possession of protected birds and illegally selling endangered red macaws. He insisted yesterday that he had not sold birds caught in the wild to Focus -although such sales are legal - but refused to comment further.

Secret filming and investigations by a former RSPB inspector suggested as many as 75 per cent of Safari Select's birds had been caught rather than bred.

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