Written by PETA
Former "Hollywood Madam" Heidi Fleiss knows what it's like to be behind bars—and ever since she inherited dozens of exotic birds from an acquaintance who passed away, she's learned firsthand that humans aren't the only ones whose needs aren't met in captivity.
Heidi was fortunate enough to be able to turn part of her home into a huge aviary where her birds can fly free and are never caged, but as she points out, most people who buy birds have no idea how to care for these complex animals. Many people keep birds caged for their entire lives—some birds are kept in cages so small that they are prevented from even stretching their wings, let alone flying.
That's why Heidi is teaming up with PETA to pressure one major purveyor of imprisoned parrots: PetSmart. She'll be speaking on PETA's behalf at PetSmart's annual meeting this Wednesday. Pointing out how much birds suffer in captivity as well as the abysmal record of neglect and abuse by PetSmart's stores and animal suppliers, Heidi will ask the company to begin phasing out the sale of all birds.
Go get 'em, Heidi! We know you're an expert at turning heads—now let's see you change some minds.
Written by Amanda Schinke
Killer birds from PetSmart. It sounds like a reimagined version of Hitchcock's The Birds or maybe Troma's follow-up film to Poultrygeist, but it's a true, tragic story. A bird-loving family from Corpus Christi, Texas, reportedly lost their beloved father—and the daughter almost lost her life—after they both contracted psittacosis from a cockatiel whom they had purchased at PetSmart and named Peachy. Check out the Associated Press Article here if you don't want to take my word for it.
Peachy, who also died, allegedly from this "parrot fever," was bred at Rainbow World Exotics, a breeding mill that PETA recently investigated, where we found rampant abuse and neglect of small animals and exotic birds. Bird-breeding facilities such as Rainbow World Exotics are no different than puppy mills—they're massive animal factories that crank out birds with no regard for their health, happiness, or individual best interests. It doesn't just hurt the birds when unsanitary, inhumane conditions are the norm.
The good news is that this heroic and forever scarred family is now standing up to PetSmart and demanding an end to the sale of all birds. And you can help them succeed!
And please read this important info about how to keep you and your bird safe.
Angel's Story: Another PetSmart Casualty
If you’re one of those upstanding animal lovers who’s been digging in and taking your pet-related business elsewhere until the PetSmart people stop selling live animals, here’s an opportunity to take some credit for it. If you still have that old PetSmart Pet Perks card, you can finally dust it off and do something useful with it: We’re looking for pics and video of you cutting up your PetSmart cards, and we’ll post any good ones we receive on our Flickr page, so you can bask in the warm glow if Internet celebrity while you pat yourselves on the back for having done the right thing. You can send pics or video here.
If you’re looking for a little inspiration (or if you’re in the mood to irretrievably lose two minutes of your precious time), the Princess and I have put together this neat little instructional video.
After lengthy discussions with PETA, PETCO has announced that it will reduce the number of animals for sale in its stores nationwide by 30% and revamp its live-animal vendor certification standards to improve conditions at all of its pet suppliers, starting with Rainbow World Exotics (RWE) in Hamilton, Texas.
At RWE—a hellish facility that breeds and brokers tens of thousands of animals who will be sold at pet stores, including PETCO and PetSmart—PETA found abuse and neglect of small animals and birds, including the following:
•Rabbits were neutered by an employee using a dull razor and Clorox wipes on the animals' open incisions. One improperly anesthetized rabbit kicked and struggled during the surgery.•Live hamsters, rats, and mice were dumped into trash cans, and animals were thrown against the floor in an attempt to kill them.•Many animals were denied veterinary care, including a baby Goffin's cockatoo named Angel, who Jack told you about in January; ferrets with rectal prolapses; and a guinea pig with a broken hip.
•Rabbits were neutered by an employee using a dull razor and Clorox wipes on the animals' open incisions. One improperly anesthetized rabbit kicked and struggled during the surgery.
•Live hamsters, rats, and mice were dumped into trash cans, and animals were thrown against the floor in an attempt to kill them.
•Many animals were denied veterinary care, including a baby Goffin's cockatoo named Angel, who Jack told you about in January; ferrets with rectal prolapses; and a guinea pig with a broken hip.
Watch the video posted below for more details on the horrors uncovered in the investigation, and check out the piece from the Today show, where the story broke nationally.
Change is good, but we wish that PETCO would have done even better and kissed its relationship with RWE goodbye. Says PETA Vice President Daphna Nachminovitch, "It is astounding that an abusive mill like RWE can still call the nation's two largest pet supply companies its customers." She continues, "The decisions by PETCO and PetSmart not to cut ties with RWE make it clear that to them, the bottom line is far more important than ensuring that tens of thousands of animals avoid pain and suffering. PETA wants consumers to know that animals do not generally fare well in the pet trade. Animal shelters and pounds are the place to go when you are ready to offer a loving, responsible home to an animal."
I couldn't agree more. If you care about animals, don't buy from stores that sell animals.
For what you can do to help, click here.
Here’s what PetSmart spokesman Bruce Richardson had to say when he was asked about the shocking video footage revealed by our recent investigation into a PetSmart supplier in Texas:
“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.”
“When you’re dealing with volume,” Bruce? Does it not strike you as just a little bit callous to refer to the living, breathing beings that your company trades in as if they were lawn furniture? No, of course it doesn’t. Because that’s exactly the attitude that seems to be driving this business—despite being confronted by scenes of incredible suffering inflicted by a PetSmart supplier, Bruce and his colleagues appear to have seen nothing at all, beyond a few “acceptable losses” of their “product.”
Before I get too rhetorical here, let’s switch gears and watch something a bit more uplifting. It’s good to know, at least, that for every Bruce Richardson there’s also someone out there who’s taking time to make a positive difference for animals. Here’s a creative pro-spay and neuter spot by Alliance for Humane Action that I just came across. I like it because it has cats in it.
Update: You can watch the Today Show segment about this investigation here.
As you may have noticed from the front page of our site, PETA released the details today of a major investigation into a PetSmart supplier in Texas. You can learn more about that investigation on our brand-new PetSmart Campaign website. The whole thing is pretty disturbing, but the footage depicting the treatment of a baby Goffin’s cockatoo named Angel is utterly devastating. From the beginning of Angel’s “life,” which was spent in solitary confinement, until an agonizing death after four months wasting away from an untreated disease, Angel’s experience was characterized solely by suffering. It’s difficult to watch, but this video should be mandatory viewing for anyone who has ever considered buying a bird from a pet store.
You can contact PetSmart and ask them to immediately end all animal sales through the web form here.
It’s too bad that it required an outbreak of a disease that’s contagious to humans for PetSmart to make this decision, but this is something we’ve been asking the pet store chain to do for a long time now. According to The Huntsville Times PetSmart has stopped selling birds in all of its stores for the moment while it looks into the outbreak of psittacosis that has affected the birds it gets from various suppliers. And now that they’ve taken this step of removing these animals from the sales floor, we want to do everything we can to make sure things stay that way. One has to wonder what is happening with all of the sick birds as we speak?
Like all animals exploited by the pet trade, exotic birds sold at pet stores like PetSmart are raised in conditions that are designed to be the most profitable for breeders, which means that they are often crowded inside sheds, barns, and garages without any regard for their basic needs or the dangers of spreading infection and disease. No one should be surprised when this sort of thing happens in a pet store. It should be obvious to anyone who knows anything about birds—the very symbol of freedom—that keeping them confined in cages is cruel in the extreme, and PetSmart should never have been selling these wild animals in the first place. You can click here to learn more about our campaign against PetSmart and contact the company about its lousy track record of animal sales.
According to the Seattle Post Intelligencer, 20 different Petsmart stores in 11 Seattle counties may have sold birds with avian chlamydiosis, which can pose a serious health risk to people who are exposed to the animals.
The threat of a nasty disease is a pretty great reason not to buy a bird from Petsmart, but it’s not the main reason. People shouldn’t buy birds from Petsmart because birds don’t belong in cages. All caged birds were either captured or captive-bred. In the wild, they spend their entire lives with their flockmates, and many species mate for life and share parenting tasks. Considering that some parrots fly 30 miles a day in the wild, it’s no surprise that these animals often develop severe behavioral problems when they’re stuck in a cage for life.
Click here to tell PetSmart to just stop it already.
Following a PETA action alert and protests targeting the company, which resulted in thousands of emails to Petsmart Corporate over the last three months, Petsmart has announced that they will no longer sell rabbits in their stores! “At this time,” writes Petsmart (using perhaps my least favorite prepositional phrase ever), “we’re not expanding the test and will not continue to sell dwarf bunnies beyond those already in or planned for our stores.” Given the thousands of rabbits who are abandoned to die in shelters every year, this is big news for bunnies—and for those who care about their well-being.
This doesn’t mean the end of our campaign against Petsmart, which continues to sell other animals like hamsters, rats, fish, lizards, and birds—who are just as prone to suffering at the company’s hands—but it’s an important sign that direct pressure on the company from consumers will make them listen. Petsmart claims that this was purely a business decision (“we failed to meet the business objectives”), which means that we need to continue to go after their bottom line by boycotting their stores—you’d be surprised to see how many “business decisions” turn into “ethical decisions” when a company realizes that consumers are outraged at their practices. A huge thank you to everyone who called or wrote to Petsmart about this issue—if you haven’t already, please take this opportunity to let them know that you appreciate this decision but will continue to boycott their stores until they end all animal sales. Please also ask that they turn the remaining rabbits over to a reputable rabbit placement group which can ensure that they won’t be used as Christmas presents and will go into permanent, responsible homes.
About seven years ago, PetSmart CEO Phillip Francis made a commitment not to sell rabbits in PetSmart stores because of the high numbers of bunnies who are dumped in shelters after the novelty of an impulse purchase wears off. "Our brand name stands for ethics, quality, health and good care for animals and we're always willing to forego the short run marginal sale because our standards are higher and our ethics are little bit better," he said. Well, either that was an empty promise or else PetSmart Corporate decided it was a good business decision to lower their ethical standards in the intervening years, since the company has announced that it will start selling rabbits in its stores, despite the thousands of rabbits who are abandoned to die in shelters every year.
As you probably know, we're pretty unhappy with the company as it is, based on their lousy record of animal care and their refusal to stop selling animals in the first place. So we sent our own bunny to sort them out. Check out the pics below, and an article about the protest here. And you can write to PetSmart about this issue at http://getactive.peta.org/campaign/petsmart_rabbit_cruelty.
N.B. Please note that I was able to avoid using the phrase "hopping mad" throughout this entire post. I feel like I deserve some credit for showing such considerable restraint.
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
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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.