John Pye Auctions Weekly Story – ‘Noah’s Ark’

Chaos would often come to me in many guises, but it was the four-legged variety that ensued when I was asked to empty a pet shop in Derby in 1987.

The City Council had sent in its bailiffs to confiscate items due to unpaid rates and I was asked to take the goods away to be sold.

When I arrived an argument was in full flow between the head bailiff and the woman owner, who was swearing with defiance at the threat of her shop being emptied. I was asked to start the process – which included fish, rabbits, guinea pigs, mice, kittens, cages, animal food and all manner of pet novelties and equipment.

First to go were the rabbits and mice in their cages – with the woman swearing continuously at me and my team as we carried them through the doorway.

After the first batch had been loaded onto their wagon, I re-emerged from the shop to find the woman had opened the cages and mice were running all over the road.

There were around 100 of them in sight, people were screaming, children were chasing them up and down the pavement. It was complete pandemonium. They were falling down grids and escaping into house air-holes. There was shouting and squealing by women passing by. People were chasing them with brushes. The police came, but we couldn’t do a blooming thing about it.

But then the woman started throwing the blinking rabbits and the kittens out as well. No-one could stop her because it was her shop. I said to the bailiff that he should lock the shop door before the whole lot were out and running around the local roads. He said it was her shop. But I said he didn’t have any choice.

The chaos continued well into the night, with me and the team working in the dark to try and recapture the fleeing animals back from gardens and hiding holes. It was like Noah’s Ark in reverse; in this case the little perishers were running away. I don’t know how many went missing before we got the rest to safety. But I’m certain that we didn‘t get all of them because so many were on the loose.

In fact, I would wager that some of their little furry descendents are munching their way through flowerbeds and garden sheds in Derby’s Uttoxeter Road area to this day!


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