Written by Jeff Mackey
Ever wondered what it's like to take part in one of PETA's undercover investigations? Tune in to the Discovery
Channel tonight, January 28, at 8 p.m. Eastern time for an episode of Extreme Smuggling that shines a light on
the trafficking of exotic and endangered wildlife and the investigative work that's
crucial to fighting this cruel and illicit trade in living beings.
The program will feature PETA Senior Vice President of
Cruelty Investigations Daphna Nachminovitch, who will discuss PETA's seven-month undercover
investigation of a massive international wholesale dealer of exotic animals, U.S. Global
Exotics, Inc. (USGE). PETA's investigation led to the immediate closure of USGE, the largest animal seizure in U.S. history, and the pursuit of USGE's owner Jasen Shaw on federal charges of smuggling, conspiracy, and aiding and abetting. Shaw
remains a wanted fugitive.
Hundreds of thousands of animals of all kinds were cruelly
confined, severely crowded, and denied basic necessities such as food, water,
space, heat, and veterinary care during their time in USGE's filthy warehouse. Most
animals' ultimate destination was stores such as PetSmart and
PETCO, massive commercial chains that sell wild animals stolen from their
native homes, imported into the U.S. from breeding warehouses overseas, or bred and sold by massive
mills such as Atlanta-based Sun
Pet and Rainbow World Exotics, a Texas-based dealer that bought animals from USGE and supplied animals to
PETCO and PetSmart stores.
PETA's investigation led to the rescue of more than 26,000 animals from the USGE hellhole.
What You Can Do
Animals sold by PetSmart, PETCO, and other pet stores are
wild-caught or bred in horrific
conditions, leaving countless animals to endure a miserable life in captivity, deprived of
all that is natural and important to them. Please buy your animal-care supplies
only from stores that do not sell any live animals.
Written by Michelle Kretzer
People who recently purchased
mice, hamsters, gerbils, and guinea pigs from a pet store might have gotten more than they bargained for—such as vomiting, chest pain,
testicular pain, meningitis, paralysis, fluid on the brain, or even children
born with birth defects.
The Centers for Disease Control
and Prevention (CDC) is investigating an outbreak of lymphocytic choriomeningitis virus (LCMV)
infections in mice shipped to pet stores throughout the country earlier this year. Mice with LCMV can
infect other rodents and even people who come into contact with them.
And guess which company shipped
out some of the infected mice?
None other than Sun Pet, Ltd.—the PETCO and PetSmart supplier whose Georgia warehouse PETA investigated in 2009 and 2010. Our undercover
investigator documented filthy, severely crowded conditions; unsalable animals killed
in a crude, filthy makeshift gas box; and sick animals deprived of veterinary
care. One worker put live hamsters into a bag and then bashed the bag
against a table in an attempt to kill them.
The Georgia Department of Agriculture put the facility
on probation following PETA's investigation.
Infected rodents shed LCMV in their
urine and saliva, and it also becomes airborne in filthy, cramped conditions such
as those that PETA documented at Sun Pet's warehouse. For animals, it can cause
weeks or even months of lethargy, loss of appetite, weight loss, inflammation,
and eventually death.
The CDC is encouraging people who
experience symptoms of LCMV to see a doctor. The agency isn't being overly
cautious: In 2005, three
people died after receiving allegedly infected organs from a donor who had purchased a
hamster with LCMV from PetSmart. One of the victims' widows sued PetSmart for negligence. We all knew animals paid the price for the cruelty and filth that are rampant
in the pet trade. Now we see again that consumers might be paying it, too.
This is just one more reason to
avoid sleazy animal dealers by never buying mice,
hamsters, rabbits, fish, birds, or any animal from a pet store or
breeder and by steering others who are considering getting an animal toward animal shelters.
Written by Lindsay Pollard-Post
According to a whistleblower, two bearded dragons languished in the back room of a Chicago-area PetSmart store for six months, apparently suffering from improperly treated eye infections that spread to their jaws and caused their faces to rot away.
After pressure from PETA, the store's manager finally took the bearded dragons to a veterinarian who put them out of their misery, but untold numbers of other animals are likely languishing in PetSmart stores and its suppliers' warehouses across the country. PETA's undercover investigations have shown time after time that this kind of cruelty is business as usual for PetSmart and its suppliers.
PETA revealed horrors at Rainbow World Exotics, one of PetSmart's main animal suppliers, including throwing live animals into the trash, crude neuter surgeries performed in a dark and filthy room by a layperson, depriving animals of desperately needed veterinary care, and leaving them to cannibalize each other, suffer, and die alone in their cages.
At Sun Pet, another PetSmart supplier, an employee—who has since been fired—placed hamsters in a bag and bashed it against a table in an attempt to kill them. Other animals who couldn't be sold were gassed in a crude, filth-encrusted tank.
Animals at the now-defunct U.S. Global Exotics, Inc., which supplied exotic animals to PetSmart, were crammed into severely crowded and filthy containers, including soda bottles and milk jugs, litter pans, cattle-feeding troughs, and barren wire cages. Hundreds of animals were denied basic necessities, such as food, water, and veterinary care.
And PETA's undercover investigation of a PetSmart store in Manchester, Connecticut, documented that more than 100 animals—including hamsters, rats, lizards, chinchillas, and birds—were deprived of adequate veterinary care and just left to die slowly, hidden from customers' sight. PetSmart boasted that this store had an "outstanding pet care team" and an "exceptional pet care record." Pathetic.
Please show PetSmart that you haven't forgotten about the animals who suffer unseen. Boycott PetSmart, and tell company officials that you won't set foot in their stores until live animals are no longer part of the inventory.
Written by PETA
Brrr! A cold spell
has gripped us here in Los Angeles, with night temperatures dipping down into
the 50s—much too cold for Angelenos … and for goldfish.
When the guardians of one rescued goldfish, Sadie, turned on her tank's water
heater this week, she immediately swam over to bask in the warmth, just like a
kitten seeking a sunny patch or a dog seeking a place by the fire.
A sympathetic PetSmart
employee rescued Sadie when she was deemed "valueless" because of a
genetic defect. She was born with one eye—likely caused by overbreeding, a
practice that is rampant in the hideous "pet" trade.
The employee, an aquatic animals expert who cautions that caring for fish
requires expensive equipment and frequent tank cleanings, subsequently left PetSmart
in protest over the way the retailer treats animals as if they were commodities
rather than recognizing that they are feeling individuals.
support companies such as PetSmart that put profit first—at the animals'
expense. Reputable local rescue groups and shelters
often have fish who need new homes. If you or someone you know has aquatic animals,
please also constantly check to be sure that the water temperature is in the
proper range for the animal during winter months. After all, they can't dust
off their spare blankets or snuggle up with a friend
for the night.
by Heather Faraid Drennan
A temporary booth set up in Orlando by the
Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) started to look like a
scene from The Jungle Book after the
agency gave "amnesty" to people in possession of exotic animals
banned under Florida law and agreed to take in the animals and place them in
facilities equipped to care for them.
The point of the agency's first Exotic Pet Amnesty Day
wasn't to cut illegal animal owners a break—it was to keep owners from simply
turtles, sugar gliders, and other exotic animals loose in the
wild, where they would disrupt the local ecosystem and perish slowly and
Abandonment of exotic animals—who are
usually purchased on impulse by unprepared and uninformed consumers—is just one
of many serious problems associated with the exotic-pet industry.
Many exotic animals are stolen out of their habitats in the wild, torn from
their families, and shipped in cramped, filthy containers across the world before
being warehoused in massive mills, awaiting their ultimate destination: pet
stores, including pet-trade giants PETCO and PetSmart.
A PETA investigation into international
animal dealer U.S. Global
revealed that animals were crammed into pillowcases, shipping crates, troughs,
and even plastic bottles, sometimes for weeks at a time. Many who were sick or
dying were frozen to death in a freezer. Our investigation resulted in the
largest animal seizure in history, the closure of the facility,
and the issuing of an arrest warrant by the federal government for owner Jasen
Shaw. But exotic animals are still suffering at the hands of other dealers like
Rainbow World Exotics
and Sun Pet Ltd.,
which supply PETCO
and PetSmart stores across the country. Despite evidence of systemic cruelty
and neglect at these small-animal factory farms, PETCO and PetSmart refused to
sever ties with Rainbow and Sun Pet and continue to buy animals from them.
Good for the Florida Fish and Wildlife
Conservation Commission for preventing animals acquired on a whim from
suffering uncertain fates in a concrete jungle far from their natural homes. To
help do the same, click here to e-mail PETCO and PetSmart
and demand that they stop selling animals.
by Michelle Sherrow
An employee of a New Jersey PetSmart store has been charged with three counts of cruelty to animals after allegedly punching a cat, attacking another, and killing a rabbit at his girlfriend's home. One of the cats was injured so severely that he had to be euthanized.
PetSmart has "suspended" the alleged animal killer. That's not much, but it is way more than the chain has ever done when allegations of abuse surfaced against its animal supplier mills, like Sun Pet and Rainbow World Exotics. Or when customers and whistleblowers around the country have reported filthy, severely crowded cages; comatose animals who were lying on cage floors; and animals who were suffering from deadly, contagious diseases in PetSmart stores. A PETA undercover investigation at a Connecticut PetSmart store revealed that sick and injured animals were deprived of veterinary care and left to die slowly in the "sick room" out of public view. Yet PetSmart continues to buy and sell living beings as if they were squeaky toys.
You can help by refusing to shop at PetSmart until it stops selling animals.
Written by Michelle Sherrow
Authorities recently raided Dutch animal dealer and breeding mill Reintjes—a supplier of U.S. Global Exotics (USGE)—and found animals crammed in cages in a dark warehouse with no working fan to combat stale air and the stench of urine and feces. Many animals had no access to food or water, and many were starving. Authorities seized every animal on the premises—5,900 in all, including mice, rats, hamsters, and birds—from Reintjes' owners, who already had criminal records for cruelty to animals.
Reintjes was a global supplier of animals to the pet trade. In 2009 alone, it supplied 112,546 animals to USGE, a major supplier of animals to wholesale dealers and pet stores in the U.S.—including PETCO and PetSmart suppliers Rainbow World Exotics and Sun Pet—until it was shut down following a PETA undercover investigation. USGE, which purchased rabbits, hamsters, guinea pigs, chinchillas, chipmunks, tree squirrels, and other animals from Reintjes, shared the Dutch company's view of animals as disposable commodities. Authorities raiding USGE found live animals shoved into soda bottles and tiny food storage containers; animals with severe, untreated injuries; a widespread lack of food, water, and adequate housing; and sick animals left to die. In fact, on the day of the seizure, an unpacked shipment of hundreds of chinchillas and hamsters from Reintjes was among the first things authorities found.
There is no word yet on whether Reintjes will be shut down permanently, but we will release updates as we have them. It is impossible to patronize pet stores like PETCO and PetSmart that sell live animals without supporting abusive animal dealers and breeding mills. Please, purchase your animal supplies at stores that don't sell live animals.
We recently shared the good news that no reptiles were harmed in the making of the new movie Rango, starring reptile friend Johnny Depp, but Paramount Pictures, the distributer of the movie, has partnered with PetSmart in a terribly irresponsible promotion of impulse buying, offering a $10 discount on any reptile to customers with Rango ticket stubs. Neither PetSmart nor Paramount has responded to PETA's polite pleas to put an end to this ill-conceived, cruel promotion.
We want to love this movie and its positive message, but this promotion will inevitably lead to the suffering and deaths of animals. This movie is being marketed to children, who may be intrigued by possessing a reptile but who are far from equipped to humanely care for one. Reptiles—especially chameleons, who are terribly hard to keep alive in captivity—are anything but low maintenance. Any animal acquired on a whim (prompted by a coupon, no less!) is in danger of being discarded within days once the "wow" factor fades and the animal's specialized needs become clear. Snakes, iguanas, and other animals who have become "inconvenient" are often dumped outside like garbage. Many of these abandoned animals languish in fear, hunger, and thirst before dying or being killed. Those who survive can wreak havoc on local ecosystems.
Please ask Paramount to stop this reckless promotion so that you can buy a ticket in good conscience.
Written by Jennifer O'Connor
Just call him Captain Jack Gecko. Johnny Depp, who lends his vocal talents to the upcoming animated film Rango, expresses his affection for his scaly friends in the current issue of Us Weekly:
"I've always had an affinity for lizards, and have always felt close to them and inspired by them," he said. "So when I was asked to play a lizard, I thought, 'I'm halfway there.'"
Unfortunately, even though no lizards were harmed in the making of Rango, PetSmart is shamelessly attempting to cash in on the film's reptile-friendly message by offering a $10 discount for "any reptile" to customers with Rango ticket stubs. In case you need a refresher, here's why that's a really bad idea:
Please take a moment to drop a line to PetSmart urging them to cancel this irresponsible promotion, which encourages impulse buying of these special needs animals and is sure to put them in harm's way.
Written by Alisa Mullins
Just in time for Puppy Mill Awareness Day, a puppy mill operator in Romulus, New York,
has admitted to using a makeshift gas chamber to "depopulate" the kennel—in other words, to kill 93 dogs and puppies. David Yoder, who bred poodles, bichon frises, Maltese, and Boston terriers at his Black Diamond Acres kennel, told a U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) inspector that he gassed the dogs after being told that he would have to test and treat them for brucellosis. He put groups of five or six at a time into a sealed "whelping box," which he had hooked up to a tractor engine. (Is anybody else noting the irony that these dogs were born and died in the same box?)
Yoder appears to have violated federal law, which prohibits kennel operators from performing euthanasia, as well as New York state law, which bans killing animals with exhaust fumes. Yoder has turned in his kennel license and is now under investigation by the USDA and the local sheriff's department. Should he be found guilty of violating the Animal Welfare Act, he faces fines of up to $10,000 for each such violation.
This case is just one more reminder—as if we needed one—why people should never buy dogs from pet stores (the retail end of the puppy mill business) or people who advertise puppies for sale in newspapers or online. If an ad mentions multiple breeds for sale, it might as well say "puppy mill" in neon lights.
you have a general question for PETA and would like a response, please e-mail Info@peta.org. If you need to report cruelty to
an animal, please click
here. If you are reporting an animal in imminent danger and know where to find the
animal and if the abuse is taking place right now, please call your local
police department. If the police are unresponsive, please call PETA
immediately at 757-622-7382 and press 2.
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Almost all of us grew up eating meat, wearing leather, and going to circuses and zoos. We never considered the impact of these actions on the animals involved. For whatever reason, you are now asking the question: Why should animals have rights? Read more.