PetSmart began breeding and selling dwarf rabbits in 25 of their stores nationwide in July. The company could increase it to 40 of its stores depending on the reactions from customers.
Except, PetSmart’s move to sell rabbits is not making animal rescue groups happy at all.
Some animal shelters and rescue organizations are threatening to end their partnerships with the company. They say that PetSmart’s move leads to more overpopulation of rabbits. They also say that the company is reneging on a previous commitment to not sell specific pets like kittens, puppies, and rabbits. Animal rescue groups fear that some of these rabbits will end up in shelters when people grow tired of caring for them.
The company says that even though they have started selling rabbits, they will not be selling dogs or cats.
“We certainly don’t doubt that there are rabbits in shelters that need homes,” PetSmart spokeswoman Jennifer Ericsson said. “But we also know that there are people seeking pets that have been bred and want to have that pet from the start,” she said.
Several PetSmart customers have expressed their disagreement with the company’s new move. They say that they had hoped that the company control what they sell in their store. They say that people need to be responsible pet owners and not just buy a pet because of an impulse.
The rabbits are selling for $99.99 and they are all spayed and neutered. Customers will also be able to return the pets within 14 days of purchase. The company also says that it plans to hold off on rabbit sales during the two weeks before Easter.
One animal rescue group has already taken a stand against PetSmart.
The Brambley Hedge Rabbit Rescue has suspended its adoptions with PetSmart. The organization says it will suspend its partnership with the company as long as they sell rabbits.
A spokesperson for the organization feels that rabbits are just the start, and that they believe that selling kittens and puppies will soon follow.
PetSmart says that the number of rabbit surrenders to a shelter is very small compared to dogs and cats. Based on their data, only 2,000 bunnies have been adopted from their stores in the past 2 years. They had a total of 730,000 adoptions of all animals in that same time period.
Ericsson said that animal rescue agencies should not suspend their adoptions at a PetSmart store simply because of rabbits being sold. She said that these organizations will cut off one of the ways of adopting out their pets.
For the House Rabbit Society, they expect to stop doing business with local PetSmarts, but it is a tough decision.
“Do we continue to avail (the animals) to the local store that’s been helpful to us?” she asked. “(Or) do you want to send a larger message to the corporation?”