A CONTROVERSIAL pet shop has vacated a local garden centre, leaving surrounding tennants happy with the news.
Linton Pet Store was based at Ladds Garden Village, Hare Hatch.
The shop sold live animals including puppies, rabbits, guinea pigs and birds.
There were allegations from a number of local residents that the puppies sold from Linton Pet Store were sourced from puppy farms and a petition against the store attracted more than 10,000 signatures. Protesters also took to the streets outside the centre warning customers to stay away.
But the owners had said they had complied with the law.
The shop closed last month and the owners have allegedly left the country since then.
Its comes ahead of the spring launch of Lucy’s Law — which bans the sale of puppies and kittens in pet shops.
On their social media pages, residents have called the shop owners ‘sick’, ‘cruel’ and disgraceful’ for selling live animals, calling for others to boycott the store.
Ladds Garden Village is home to 11 other independent businesses – many of which have suffered from the pet shop’s presence.
Sadie Shepherd from Feathers and Fur Falconry Centre said: “We’re very glad they’re gone. The protesters have caused a large drop in visitor numbers over the last couple of years.
“I think one of their main reasons for leaving is Lucy’s Law, which will ban the sale of puppies and kittens in pet shops from April this year.
“We hope that residents can stop tarnishing us with the same brush. Many people boycotted all the independent businesses assuming we were supporters. But we’re actively against the selling of puppies and birds in pet shops.
Ms Shepherd alleged: “In the last couple of months, the pet shop owners disappeared back to Malta, and the staff were left to look after the remaining animals.
“Their staff were left with the backlash this caused on Facebook.
“Of course this is massively sad for the staff members, nobody should have to lose their job before Christmas, no matter who they work for.”
“After so much negativity, hopefully local people will start coming back and visiting this entirely independent garden centre.”
Dianne Chamberlain from Quality Garden Buildings has been at Ladds for 31 years in February, and is relieved to see the pet shop go.
“We’re a strong business so haven’t suffered too badly from their presence, but we could have been busier.
“We’re happy they’ve gone, and would like to encourage local people to return to Ladds and end the boycott.”
Claire from Turf Services explained how the pet shop had affected their business.
“People were boycotting the whole site, and there’s lots of independent businesses here.
“It was becoming detrimental to our business.
“It’s a good thing they’ve left.”
However, as the only shop selling pet food, Ladds has lost some of its regular visitors coming for their pet supplies.
Hopping to pick up the demand is Reading Reptile Centre, who will now be stocking all pet food — a bid to bring back centre visitors.
Andre Davis, owner of Reading Reptile Centre said: “We’re pleased to see the puppies have gone, but we’ve lost a pet shop.
“We want to encourage the local community to come back to Ladds and support us, so we are now stocking pet food as well.”