Hi Readers — You read that headline right. Apparently in England it is now illegal to sell a pet to anyone under age 16 who is not accompanied by an adult. (England? Are you feeling okay? Something bump you in the head?) Anyway — this granny did! And she was fined 1000 pounds (about $1500) and given a curfew and forced to wear an “electronic tag.”
Even more unbelievable: It was a sting! The kid — a 14-year-old — was working for the police! And the authorities had targeted this particular shop because on another occasion the granny ostensibly sold a gerbil to a 14-year-old girl with learning disabilities, and there are unsubstantiated reports that the girl unwittingly allowed it to die.
The Free-Range issue here, besides just plain jaw-dropping, head-scratching, don’t-you-have-any-crimes-besides-underage-goldfish-peddling-to-worry-about disbelief? Children and pets go together. I can see where I’d be a little peeved if my sons came home with a hamster one day. (Tickled, too.) But that does not seem like a legal issue so much as a parenting one. Just another instance of officially “protecting” us from things we don’t need protection from. If I were a gerbil, I’d go over there and bite some lawmakers. (Hey, I may STILL do that.) — Lenore