Granny fined $1,500, electronically
tagged for selling goldfish to child
The Raw Story
A British grandmother was heavily fined and electronically tagged for selling a goldfish to a child, triggering criticism Wednesday of over-zealous use of animal protection laws.
Pet shop owner Joan Higgins, 66, was fined 1,000 pounds (1,500 dollars, 1,120 euros) also given a dusk-to-dawn curfew for selling an animal to a person under the age of 16, but her 47-year-old son Mark ~ also ordered to do community service ~ slammed the ruling as a farce.
The pair were prosecuted after the local council sent a 14-year-old boy to buy a goldfish in a "sting" operation following reports that their shop, Majors Pets, had sold a gerbil to a teenager with learning difficulties.
The shopkeepers sold the fish without asking his age or how the fish would be cared for, prosecutors said.
"I think it's a farce and legal lunacy and I told the council that," said Mark Higgins, cited by the Daily Telegraph, noting that his mother was also given an electronic tag.
But Trafford Council in northern England defended the decision to prosecute, noting that the gerbil sold to the teenager with learning difficulties ~ who was also 14 ~ was put in a cup of coffee.
"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," said Iain Veitch, the council's head of public protection.
Higgins and her son pleaded guilty at Trafford Magistrates' Court to selling an animal to a person aged under 16. She was ordered to obey a curfew from 6:00 pm to 7:00 am for seven weeks because she is unfit for community service.
Mrs Higgins's husband of 48 years, Les, 70, said: 'They say the punishment should fit the crime but they have got it completely wrong. We think it was a case of entrapment.'
Mrs Higgins has to wear the tag until June 6 and she says she will not be able to attend her regular bingo sessions or go out in the evening until then.
She said: 'I've only had it on a day and already I'm looking forward to taking it off.'