The RSPCA has criticised Pets at Home for plans to roll out interactive ‘pet play’ areas at its 450 stores, as the charity said it could frighten pets.
Pets at Home has launched ‘pet villages’ at its two new stores in Stockport and Chesterfield so far, which feature tunnels that children can crawl through in order to get up close to the rabbits and guinea pigs inside pens above them.
The RSPCA warned that youngsters in close proximity banging on the glass or being noisy risked terrifying the pets.
The charity said: “The pet village has the potential to encourage very close contact between people and rabbits which, if not closely monitored, risks fear and distress.
“As prey species, rabbits and guinea pigs need to have both plenty of space and plenty of areas in which they can escape and hide away from what they find frightening if they feel scared.”
The RSPCA said that since voicing its concerns, the charity has been reassured by Pets at Home that the enclosures have twice as much space as legally required.