PetSmart Investigates After PETA Alleges Supplier Causes Pain And Suffering Of Animals

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, PETA’s vice president, said, “(Rainbow) is one of PetSmart’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 didn’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 don’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 haven’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 PETA’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.

It’s difficult to know exactly what was happening during this procedure, however, we are concerned that appropriate methods weren’t being followed. This is a serious concern to us and one we’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 we’re not sure of the true facts surrounding this issue, we’re treating it seriously and are fully investigating it.

These allegations are troubling and we’re taking them very seriously, which is why we’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.

• PetSmart requires that our suppliers’ facilities must meet USDA requirements for animal care as well as our own high standards, which includes space requirements. We’re conducting a full investigation to make sure our standards are being met.

• The habitats are designed for cleanliness and safety, knowing the pets spend only a short time in these facilities before being shipped to stores. PETA’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.

• 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 it’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 Rainbow’s facility (including unannounced visits), they have found those standards in place. That’s why we’re so disappointed and disturbed by some of the issues that have been raised. We’ve launched a full investigation into this matter and we’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.

Source: Waco Tribune-Herald, KRIS-TV

(Thanks Amanda)

33 Responses to “PetSmart Investigates After PETA Alleges Supplier Causes Pain And Suffering Of Animals”

  1. Lynne says:

    “The video documents filthy facilities, dead animals, and shows a rabbit being neutered with a dull razor and Chlorox wipes.”

    Oh my God how sickening. PetSmart had already lost my business but this really seals the deal.

  2. G in INdiana says:

    Just because it says USDA on it does not mean it is clean, inspected, or that the animals are healthy. You can put money on it that the unannounced vet visit was not quite so unannounced. Rainbow has a vested interest in making money off those animals. They are sure to have someone on the staff of Petsmart that will call them and let them know when those surprise visits are going to happen. A little cash under the table is nothing when you stand to loose a huge contract like Petsmart.
    And you will notice the video is no longer available. Bet Petsmart put some pressure on YouTube to get it pulled.

  3. Cathy says:

    I don’t believe anything that PETA says. Why doesn’t PETA video tape themselves euthanizing the majority of animals that people surrender to them thinking they will find them homes?

  4. catmom5 says:

    For me, it’s a no brainer. I don’t believe either of them! They both have their own interests and agenda and I think would manipulate the truth to support their position. Interesting that PETA is concerned with disposal of bodies after using a dumpster for theirs. I don’t like either PETA or PetSmart!

  5. Carolyn & Maggie says:

    “The video documents filthy facilities, dead animals, and shows a rabbit being neutered with a dull razor and Chlorox wipes.”

    This statement was horrifying enough. I couldn’t watch the video. You know, I guess I thought people who worked in a place like Rainbow World Exotics *liked” animals. Shows you how wrong you can be.

  6. Stefani says:

    OMG. Re:

    “Bruce Richardson said PetSmart believes that some images in the video could have been manipulated or taken out of context.”

    So now they are going to claim that the video is manipulated? PLEASE. Let me guess: The rainbow guy will say he didn’t repeatedly stomp on the hamster on purpose, right?

    They GET CAUGHT ON VIDEO and still PetSmart is trying to make excuses.

    THESE are the things I appreciate PETA for. I know they are HORRIBLE on other things — but they did a similar undercover investigation of a veterinarian who was filmed doing horrible things.


  7. Lisa says:

    Petsmart sure has been making the news alot lately and not for feel good stories….can’t watch the video as it has been removed.

  8. Jaime Smith says:

    I already stopped supporting PetSmart for other reasons but this is sacrilege. The USDA isn’t exactly good (in fact they suck) with examining these types of things either. I have very little confidence in both the USDA and PetSmart that they will actually turn anything around.

    That poor bunny.

    I could not watch the video either. I have seen many of PETA’s videos from undercover ops and they are absolutely heart-breaking, but nonetheless make a point and serve as crucial evidence.

  9. Jan says:

    video is available on peta. org site

  10. Katie says:

    I didn’t watch the video - didn’t want nightmares.
    Petsmart again! haven’t shopped there since last March, with everything that has been going on with them - will never shop there again.

    Sorry Petsmart, while I have negative feelings for PETA, I can believe you knew what was going on and just chose to look the other way. Money is Money.


  11. Kristy says:

    I just don’t even know why PetSmart sells the small animals. Are the profits that good that you can turn your back on things like this? As someone who has looked at the small animals such as mice and hamsters in PetSmart and seen a good percentage of them display abnormal behavior (similar to what many animals due when confined to small areas) I find it extremely distressing.

    While I am not a big fan of Peta for many reasons and I don’t doubt that they have an agenda here (they have long critized PetSmart for the sale of small animals) I still feel that they are right in exposing this to the public. Even under the assumption that some things may be “taken out of context”, they are still 100% UNACCEPTABLE. There is no context in which they would be right.

    Sigh. I hope PetSmart wakes up. They may do a lot to help homeless dogs and cats, but this is just plain wrong. I can’t support them if they turn a blind eye on this.


  12. Sandy says:

    PetSmart has lost my business. I could not watch the video. To suggest the video was manipulated supports my belief that it was NOT. Be truthful, fess up, and do the right thing! Sandy

  13. says:

    Wow! I couldn’t even watch the video as the image was strong enough. I find that whenever the light is shed on a dark situation there are only 2 roads to take. Take responsibility and make it right, or come from a place of blame, which it appears Petsmart is doing. To be perfectly honest I am finding it very difficult to trust any of these corporations after the pet food recall. Personally you can say all you want to make me think that I should continue to buy your product, but if I am not feeling it, it won’t happen.
    I often refer to the saying “actions speak louder than words”. If you are saying one thing and doing something else that is detrimental for the health of our furry friends…you have lost my business permanently.
    Remember we the consumer have the Power!

  14. Kate says:

    I cannot stand PETA. I have a hard time believing anything they say also. Their credibility is zero with me after finding out what their adoption rate is and their opinion of trap neuter release programs for cats. But, I also believe that Petsmart needs to stop carrying any live animals for sale. I do not care if it is a rat, snake, hamster, bird, etc., they need to stick to providing food for their customers and stop being a pet store. With the recession, they don’t have enough staff to wait on customers as it is and the cages and displays reflect this.


  15. The Lioness says:

    Kate, I could not agree with you more on your last paragraph! When will these corpmorons get a clue?

    On this one, I’m with PETA. I don’t like their views on domestic animals or feral cats either, but these undercover investigations are another thing they are known for, and like Stefani said, they were responsible for a horrible vet being busted for cruelty.

    Realistically, the truth of this situation lies somewhere in the middle. We will never truly know, but I’m glad PETA has brought it out.

    Now, the question is: What is PetSmart going to do about it? I will be watching for the outcome of this investigation, and if they don’t satisfy me by their actions, I will stop buying anything from them. (I buy food and litter–mostly litter–there now.)

    The day of the pet store pet is over. We need to encourage adoption and get the dollars out of the hands of mills and BYBs.

    ~The Lioness

  16. KAEfamily says:

    ” You know, I guess I thought people who worked in a place like Rainbow World Exotics *liked” animals. Shows you how wrong you can be.”

    The majority of Americans are working at jobs they hate :-(

  17. Sharon says:

    Why am I not surprised this place is in Texas?

  18. Nancy VB says:

    I do not like PETA or Petsmart. PETA is a pack of fanatics! I stopped going to Petsmart over a year ago, I used their grooming and didn’t like how I saw animals handled. I used to sit in the parking lot, close to the window, so the person grooming my dogs could see me and know I was watching. Problem is you can’t see what goes on in the back! And, they carry junk pet foods.
    This story doesn’t surprise me. It makes me sick to think these innocent little creatures have to suffer for a dollar.

  19. Anonymous says:

    Now wonder petfood killed thousands with impunity. Here’s how seriously HUMANs are taken.

    US Consumer Protection Officials Delay Months to Notify Public of Dangerous, Defective Products, Public Citizen Study Finds
    Recalls of Hazardous Goods Often Take More Than Three Years to Begin

  20. Marie says:

    USDA inspection and ‘veterinarian on staff’ are meaningless.

  21. ILOVERATS says:

    You have to remember that people who work for petsmart are responsible for pets the moment they arrive. And across America, those who work for the corporation have never stepped foot inside Rainbow Exotics. I’m rather tired of PETA. However, I am glad they brought this out of the dark. Petsmart was oblivious to the conditions at Rainbow. Their accusations, however are bs about petsmart itself. Rainbow they caught, but dont believe about petsmart cruelty on its probably set up. They just want to see petsmart stop selling animals. Any one could walk in with a dead gerbil in their pocket…and peta WOULD do that. And this “Back room” they talk about for the dying animals is bs too. They take care of their sick, not kill it. If rainbow got shut down, and peta makes petsmart and petco stop carrying animals, then where do the remaining animals in rainbow go? Peta has the solution, put them to sleep like they do the majority of dogs and cats. Keep that in mind next time you see them complaining of how chickens should be killed. Bunch of lunatic hypocrites.

  22. justice for all says:

    i hate animal abuse period. i hate anyone who abuses animals. If Rainbow WORLD Exotics actually did those terrible things (which according to the tape they DID!) they deserve to be closed FOREVER and brought to court. If petsmart did not know about this then that is sad. ALthough i called several petsmarts in my state and all of the employees didn’t know where the small animals and birds came from. Even the people working in that specific area. The only one’s who knew were these “specialists”. I personally think that the only people who would know would be the managers. And if the managers of petsmart knew what was going on and did not stop it, well i hope they rot. But you also have to consider that the location of the stores and the state in which the animals came from, wasn’t just around the corner. As for the people who directly hurt the animals, there is NO acceptable excuse! they will eventually get theirs.

  23. justice for all says:

    as for the chickens i already hated eating meat but now i will never eat meat AGAIN!

  24. Julie says:

    Well…wasn’t that special? I no longer have any animals due to health problems, but this beats all I’ve ever seen. This will probably be tied up in litigation for years. And, the result will be…PetSmart will still be buying and selling those animals obtained from Rainbow World. Disgusting, huh?

    Do your part! Share this with every friend and family member you have. Make them aware of this. Even if they don’t have pets or frequent PetSmart, they can forward it on to their friends/family members. BOYCOTT PetSmart. In America, the bottom line has always been PROFIT MARGIN. Lets see if we can’t make a dent in PetSmart’s!

  25. Jackie says:

    We are a whole group of animal lovers and into animal rescue. This video is extremely disturbing. We are (or now used to be?) very frequent PetSmart customers. They have a good cat and dog adoption program but they should STOP SELLING LIVE ANIMALS.
    I will bring all this to attention of our group and boycott PetSmart in the future unless they stop selling animals obtained by Rainbow World.
    I called Rainbow World and this company is surprisingly STILL IN BUSINESS. Rainbow World should be INVESTIGATED, HIGHLY FINED and CLOSED for animal cruelty. Their remaining animals should be up for adoption!!!

  26. Laurel says:

    You know that’s just sick. I hope that these places get shut down and the animals cared for. on the plus side, I’ve figured out what I want to be when I grow up.

  27. Laurel says:

    Has our country gotten so caught up in the finance part of life that we’ve forgotten what really matters? A life is a life. Our brains our the biggest, our feelings are the most complex, we have the highest technology, and we’re the dominant species. But does this make us any better? In the end, what are we? We’re all animals. A vita est a vita.

  28. Watch the Footage says:

    You can still watch the undercover footage:

  29. Dalila says:

    Cathy, euthenization is a humane way of killing an animal. You dont see PETA stomping on animals, do you? I think you should rethink your assumptions. You cant find homes for every animal in this world. And with more animals coming in all the time, you can’t make enough space with out going into animal abuse. Are you suggesting that PETA doesnt kill them at all, but instead crowds their animals in small spaces like in this video?

  30. Kristin says:

    I really do hope that Petsmart with all their do-good-adopt-help the shelters will actually cut the bull! Come on, every statement the Petsmart spokesman is saying is beating around the bush. Petsmart says they only adopt out cats and dogs because of the overpopulation… Well, are these animals too not over populated? Why are they buying and selling them? Everyone I know will now know about this, and Petsmart had better come up with some REAL answers, this is not a political debate… Is Petsmart going to contribute to animal overpopulation or NOT?

  31. Brandon says:

    I for one use to work at rainbow, 1. we never abused our animals, 2. We never shipped animals below par out., Our birds, all enter quarintine, and get medicine before being released into general population with the rest, also the containers shown were shipping containers, and for 1 we never have sold love birds, and or baby’s.

  32. ashley says:

    i CAN NOT stand peta. what it was like 5 min. clip? and they were there for 2-3 months.
    the petsmart my friend works at is GREAT! they had this little rat there that had gotten abseses on his face/body. they didn’t let him suffer. they took him right to the vet office there. got his abseses removed from surgery and got all better. they didn’t put him back in with the other rats to be selled. they gave him to my friend for free. which in turn i got him and now he is a fat little guy with no problems. just becouse they are a big petstore dosen’t mean they are bad people that are money hungrey. they love there animals and that’s why people work there. most local pet store in my opinion are alot worst.

  33. Sarah says:

    Rainbow is a contract, individual Petsmarts have no choice but to use them as a breeder. If anything is wrong with an animal at Petsmart it is immediately taken to a vet. In all honestly I don’t believe Petsmart even makes money off of most small animals and birds just because they always have to pay such high vet bills to make sure all the animals are safe and healthy…..

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