Exotic pet shop owner in Co Antrim charged with animal cruelty


The owner of an exotic and pet-friendly supermarket is set to fight a series of animal cruelty charges.

Richard Potter is facing 15 charges under the Animal Welfare Act in relation to his Cloughmills-based business Jungle Pets.

Court documents say the 39-year-old is accused of breaching the terms of his pet store license by failing to house animals in a way that protected them from ‘damage or distress’, despite warnings reasonable.

The charges claim that Potter also failed to clean the enclosures to prevent cross-contamination and failed to remove feces or uneaten food to prevent the attraction of vermin and the buildup of harmful gases.

He is also accused of not having checked the animals at least twice a day, including the days when the business is closed. Potter also allegedly failed to ensure the animals had free access to fresh, clean water at all times and to ensure that sick or injured animals were not offered for sale.

An accusation also says he failed to provide the correct lighting and periods of darkness for the animals kept on his premises.

It is also claimed that he allowed the premises to be managed by someone who did not have the appropriate experience or qualifications for the range of species on sale at the business.

Potter is additionally charged with two counts of unlawful possession of a veterinary drug and one count of unlawful administration of a veterinary drug.

All charges against him are dated between December 2019 and June 2020.

The case against Potter, whose business is in a retail complex off Frosses Road in the village of Co Antrim, came up briefly at Coleraine Magistrates’ Court on Friday.

The case was adjourned.

Jungle Pets calls itself “N.Ireland and Ireland’s No1 Exotic Pet Superstore.” 25 years of experience. Worldwide imports supplying the northern parts of Co Antrim and Derry/Donegal.

His Facebook page also states “our shop has over 70 animals including alligators, crocodiles, monkeys, raccoons, large pythons and more!”.

In a post on Christmas Eve, Potter thanked customers at the store, but said it had been a tough year for the exotic pet trade.

“Admittedly, this was probably the toughest year in business I can remember,” he posted.

“Economically things have changed…Brexit has been a major factor in our industry like many others.

“There will be many challenges ahead in 2022.

“On a good note, we opened our second store. Probably a crazy thing to do in these times but essential to serve the North West.

“So far so good, but only with your help!

“As a small independent family business, we work incredibly hard both at work and behind the scenes and this is only possible with your support!

“We thank all of our employees/friends. They have helped enormously this year!

Sunday Life contacted Potter about the case, but he declined to comment on the matter.

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