Published: 10:00, 09 June 2021
| Updated: 14:18, 09 June 2021
A "tabletop" sale of small animals and poultry at a weekend boot fair and market has been pulled after allegations of cruelty.
Visitors to Leysdown boot fair on the Isle of Sheppey reported the trade to police and Swale council, claiming they saw chickens, ducks and rabbits with no shade or water on one of the hottest days of the year. June 6
But organiser Faye Grant defended the sale, saying all the animals had water, shade and were well looked after.
She said: "We usually hold these events in village halls but with the pandemic many halls are either still closed or limiting numbers.
"So we thought it would be safer to hold it in the open.
"It is mainly for people who breed animals like rabbits and chickens as a hobby.
"They can show their animals and sell them to other breeders.
"Events like these have been going on for years.
"I have all the paperwork to prove it is legal."
She added: “We were totally separate from the boot fair and were fenced off.
"People paid £1 to come in. We had hand-sanitisers and a one-way system.”
Ms Grant said it was the first - and last - time she would be setting up on the Island.
She added: “The children loved seeing the animals. But we won’t be coming back. To be honest, I’m a little bit upset. It’s a shame.”
She even provided photos to make her point.
Henry Cooper Senior, who runs the boot fair, said: “All the animals were well treated, watered and shaded. These events have been going on for hundreds of years.
"It seems a lot of people are unintentionally ignorant to this so it will be the first and last time this very successful event will happen, unfortunately.”
Maria Holmes of Leysdown said: “I was shocked and appalled to see people selling live animals from cages. There were chickens, ducks and geese. They had no shade from the blazing sun, no water and no food. They were clearly distressed and suffering."
Another boot fair visitor, Iris Wells, 80, from Tadworth in Surrey, said: “I was disgusted by what I saw. It really upset me.
“It was cruel. I felt really sorry for the animals. They had no shade or cover and just a little bowl of water. It was awful.”
Animal rights campaigner Angela Walder said: “It is illegal to sell animals from a stall or barrow in a market place under the Pet Animals Amendment Act and has been reported to Swale council and the RSPCA.”
Police confirmed they had received a complaint and forwarded it on to Swale council and trading standards.
Swale council said it was investigating.