Published: 06:00, 08 September 2021
| Updated: 14:52, 08 September 2021
The owner of a pet shop in Maidstone which became a target for online abuse says two rabbits which previously lived in the store will not be returning after fears for their safety.
Wayne Miles, the owner of Maidstone Aquatics, took bunnies Eric and Brian home to live with him after complaints resulted in animal inspectors arriving.
The store on Loose Road, was visited by the community protection team from Maidstone Borough Council (MBC), an animal licensing inspector, the RSPCA and a vet, after the council was alerted to potential “welfare concerns” regarding the rabbits.
The RSPCA has since confirmed it found no breaches of animal welfare provisions when it visited the day after the council visit.
A post on social media suggested Eric and fellow bunny Brian had been living in “terrible” conditions and “cash had been offered for them” but that the offer was refused.
It said the cage they were living in was too small and some users responded with threats to steal the rabbits.
This prompted Mr Miles to take them home with him to keep them safe.
They now live with him permanently and are enjoying being spoiled away from the shop.
He said: "I don't make money from the rabbits and I never have. I put them there purely for when kids visited, they were never for sale.
"At the time one of them did have a cold but he was being treated by a vet.
"When this first started I could see my business going down the pan.
"Now I have been exonerated and at no point have I ill treated an animal and it shouldn't have got this far."
A licensing officer from the council revisited the shop on August 31 and found no further welfare concerns.
Instead, Mr Miles was handed a 'small list' of improvements which he says he has taken on board.
He says he spent roughly £108.25 buying 20 humidity dials for the fish tanks, and a pack of larger shavings for the gerbils.
Maidstone Borough Council said: “Our Animal Licensing Inspector re-visited the shop on August 31 to check the improvement notice raised on August 24 had been complied with.
"The changes requested have been addressed and the officer will check in with the pet shop periodically to ensure the needs of the animals continue to be met.”