Owners of an animal sanctuary were baffled when they were stopped from taking a rabbit from the adoption section of Pets at Home, Swindon Bridgemead

Emma Daltrey, 35, from Goatacre Animal Sanctuary in Calne was visiting the Pets at Home store when she spotted a rabbit called Marble with what appeared to be an injured leg.

“I asked a member of staff at the till, and they told me that he had broken his leg, which was now all healed but had fused into place.

“I knew that he would need further care like x-rays and vet visits as the leg would still be growing and would likely cause further issues. He’d need a specific home to cater to his needs and Goatacre could do that.”

Emma was unable to adopt Marble then, so she sent in a volunteer from the sanctuary to adopt him a bit later in the day. The volunteer mentioned to an assistant that she was adopting Marble for a sanctuary and the shop worker then refused to let them adopt him.

“The manager said they only allowed animals to go to pet homes. I think they were concerned that we would take Marble and rehome him and make money from him. But I don’t really understand what the difference between us and anyone who can walk in off the street and buy a rabbit," said Emma.

“We were prepared to give Marble the care he might need going forward, and they were refusing to let us.

“Even if we did rehome him, which we weren’t going to do, we’d carry out checks and make sure he went to a home that would look after him and cater to his needs. But I’m not sure what checks Pets at Home would do.”

Emma is hoping that the firm will reconsider the policy. She has contacted its head office which has told her it will look into the matter.

The store has since removed its Facebook page, and Marble has been taken off display.

A spokesperson said “Animal welfare is our top priority, and we have robust processes in place to ensure the animals in our care find homes with responsible pet owners.

They explained: “We would not usually rehome to sanctuaries as some have their own adoption programmes and our aim is to find a pet their forever home without the stress of moving from one rescue to another before finally being rehomed.

“Some sanctuaries also have on-site petting zoos, and these are not always the best environment for adopted pets.”