Animal Rights

Is PETCO Lying About Its Abusive Suppliers?

| by PETA


Hamsters were put into a plastic bag and bashed against a table. Animals were cruelly killed, abusively handled, and forced to live in severely crowded, filthy conditions. The findings of PETA's undercover investigation of Sun Pet Ltd.—a supplier of animals to stores nationwide, including PETCO and PetSmart—are so shocking that it's no wonder that so many of you have been calling and writing to these companies concerning their ties to Sun Pet (and thanks for doing so).

Now PETCO is responding, using form letters and automated phone responses that stretch the truth like an old-fashioned taffy pull. Let's have a look at the form letter:

"Please know that at PETCO, the health and wellbeing of ALL animals is always our top priority, and we take animal care issues and concerns VERY seriously."

PETCO is quite aware that this is the fourth PETA undercover investigation of its animal sources—after North American Pet Distributors (NAPD), Rainbow World Exotics, and U.S. Global Exotics—and that every investigation found factory farm conditions, filth, crowding, deprivation, neglect, cruelty, and slow, painful death. Yet PETCO continues to do business with these mills and hasn't put a stop to its suppliers' abuses.

"Georgia Agriculture Department investigators said publicly that they found 'no significant violations' in their initial on-site investigation Thursday."

PETCO also knows full well that the Georgia Department of Agriculture's investigation is still open and that Sun Pet was somehow tipped off in advance that Agriculture Department investigators were coming. Additionally, a criminal investigation is in progress.

"As part of our vendor oversight protocols, PETCO regularly conducts surprise inspections at vendor facilities. In 2009, PETCO animal care team representatives conducted multiple inspections at Sun Pet, and found no issues."

Animals are kept in row upon row of coffins stacked bins.

Good to know that PETCO representatives found Sun Pet's factory farm A-OK! The animals are mass-warehoused in dark, severely crowded bins and are so stressed out that they cannibalize each other. That having been said, in the more than three months that our investigator spent at Sun Pet, there were no inspections by PETCO, surprise or otherwise—nor were there any at Rainbow World. The only inspection conducted during our investigation at NAPD was announced in advance. Reliable sources have informed PETA, however, that even when there are supplier visits, there is more sitting around than walking around by PETCO's so-called inspectors.

"It's important to know that PETCO does not sell exotic animals, dogs, cats, or rabbits. Our stores generally carry an assortment of mainstream companion animals such as freshwater and saltwater fish; certain species of invertebrates and reptiles such as hermit crabs and small lizards; small birds; and small companion animals such as hamsters, guinea pigs, and rats. PETCO has never sold dogs or cats and never will."

OK, first of all, PETCO stopped selling rabbits just a few months ago because of campaigns by PETA and other animal protection organizations—and the decision was long overdue. Also, snakes, lizards, tortoises, frogs, and hermit crabs are "mainstream companion animals"? Since when are reptiles not exotic?! Hello? But worst of all, PETCO is missing the point. The reasons why PETCO doesn't sell dogs or cats are the same reasons why it shouldn't be selling any animals. And as long as PETCO continues to sell live animals, it has at minimum a responsibility to assure that its suppliers treat the animals humanely.

Don't settle for PETCO's deliberately misleading spin. Keep writing and calling (1-888-824-7257; insist on speaking to a live person) until PETCO gets the message that you're not buying it—or anything else the company is selling—until it cleans up its act!

Posted by Jeff Mackey