People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) has launched a campaign against one of PetSmart’s animal suppliers based in Hamilton, Texas.
PETA has filed criminal and federal complaints against Rainbow World Exotics after an undercover investigator filmed and documented allegations of “unwarranted or unjustified pain or suffering” involving animals.
During a three month-span from October 11, 2007 to Jan 18, 2008, a PETA undercover investigator said that at least 118 animals died at the store, and the organization described what they saw as “routine neglect and flagrant abuse of rabbits, hamsters, birds, and animals.”
The video documents filthy facilities, dead animals, and shows a rabbit being neutered with a dull razor and Chlorox wipes.
Daphna Nachminovitch, PETAâ€™s vice president, said, “(Rainbow) is one of PetSmartâ€™s main suppliers, and it was an easy decision because we had received complaints and had knowledge that animals were suffering there. If PetSmart conducts regular and rigorous inspections as it claims it does, it probably knew what was going on and just didnâ€™t think the rest of the world would know.”
PetSmart said they are taking the allegations very seriously and is conducting their own investigation. The company added that they believe the pets in PetSmart store are healthy and will continue to purchase animals from Rainbow World Exotics.
(Please note that the video shot by the undercover investigator contains disturbing material — the video link is now working)
Company spokesman Bruce Richardson said PetSmart believes that some images in the video could have been manipulated or taken out of context.
Richardson stated, “I donâ€™t know what those images say. Just because you see a dead pet, does that mean there was abuse? No. Pets die, particularly when you are dealing with volume.”
He added, “We hold our vendors to high standards and have high expectations of them. We visit their facilities with our vets and our technical team. We will make unannounced visits, which has happened with this particular facility in the past, and we havenâ€™t found any issues to cause us any concern.”
PetSmart issued the following statement on their website on January 23:
PETA has launched a campaign against Rainbow Exotics, one of our major pet suppliers. The images, video and allegations are very disturbing.
Of all of PETAâ€™s allegations, there are two that are of particular concern to us:
1. PETA alleges that some surgical procedures being performed at the facility are outside standard veterinary care. One particularly troubling segment of the video shows a Rainbow staff member conducting a surgical procedure on a rabbit.
Itâ€™s difficult to know exactly what was happening during this procedure, however, we are concerned that appropriate methods werenâ€™t being followed. This is a serious concern to us and one weâ€™re investigating fully.
2. The PETA video implies that a Rainbow staff member killed an escaped hamster by stepping on it. While the video is not completely clear and weâ€™re not sure of the true facts surrounding this issue, weâ€™re treating it seriously and are fully investigating it.
These allegations are troubling and weâ€™re taking them very seriously, which is why weâ€™re conducting an investigation. PETA also made other allegations that deserve a response:
Care and condition of the pets and facility
PETA alleges that pets are housed in overcrowded, unsanitary conditions.
â€¢ PetSmart requires that our suppliersâ€™ facilities must meet USDA requirements for animal care as well as our own high standards, which includes space requirements. Weâ€™re conducting a full investigation to make sure our standards are being met.
â€¢ The habitats are designed for cleanliness and safety, knowing the pets spend only a short time in these facilities before being shipped to stores. PETAâ€™s images unfortunately portray only pets that are in various stages of being transported within the facility, when large numbers are grouped together for a few moments.
Medical care provided the pets
PETA alleges that no veterinarian ever visited the facility during the two month investigation and that pets were cared for by untrained staff.
â€¢ PetSmart requires each vendor to have an attending veterinarian, and Rainbow has a veterinarian that is responsible for overseeing the medical needs of the pets.
Death and disposal of pets
PETA portrays Rainbow as being insensitive regarding the disposal of pets that may have died in their care.
Even under the best circumstances, unfortunately some pets get sick and die. The loss of any life is upsetting, and while images of death are always difficult to accept, sadly itâ€™s an inevitable fact of life.
PetSmart is committed to the exemplary treatment of pets, and we believe this is evident to customers who shop our stores.
We use only USDA-licensed breeding facilities for our pet suppliers, and we require that our breeders have a licensed veterinarian on staff. We expect our breeders and their veterinarians, including Rainbow, to be true to our high standards for pet care as well as those required by regulation. When PetSmart vets have visited Rainbowâ€™s facility (including unannounced visits), they have found those standards in place. Thatâ€™s why weâ€™re so disappointed and disturbed by some of the issues that have been raised. Weâ€™ve launched a full investigation into this matter and weâ€™ll take any and all steps necessary to make sure our pets receive appropriate treatment and care.
If you have any questions, please contact our Customer Service line at (800) 738-1385, ext. 2518.