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.
PETA is urging the public to beware of PETCO's "Turtle
Relinquishment Program"—a deceptively named ploy to essentially solicit
free turtles from unsuspecting people in order to funnel them back into the pet
trade, through a meat farm!
Most states have laws either banning or restricting the sale of turtles, so it is likely that any you see at a pet store were captured illegally or raised in less-than-humane conditions.
Capitalizing on a recent rash of pet turtle–related cases of salmonella poisoning in humans, the shameless pet store chain—which has a terrible record already
when it comes to animal welfare—has announced that anyone can bring a turtle of any size to its stores. PETCO then ships
those turtles to its own vendor, Concordia Turtle Farm in Louisiana, which has said
that it will "treat" the turtles for salmonella.
Well, this might sound like a noble effort to some, but shipping
turtles is extremely stressful on them. And to add insult to injury, there really isn't any way to
rid reptiles of salmonella—they naturally carry it in their intestinal tract! What's more, what PETCO doesn't tell consumers, and what PETA
has learned, is that Concordia Turtle Farm exports 80 percent of its turtles
overseas—mostly to China, where they grow larger and are then slaughtered for
meat. Although it's unclear whether the relinquished turtles will end up on
Chinese plates, this business deal brings up several important questions. Why would PETCO ally itself with a
meat-trade supplier? And if it's "concerned" about human health, why is the company
selling turtles in the first place?
Living conditions during the trip from the breeder or dealer are typically cramped and unsanitary, and many reptiles do not survive the ordeal.
Please help keep turtles safe by urging the CEO of PETCO to
end this ghastly program and stop selling turtles altogether.
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.
Don't miss a thing: Follow PETA on Tumblr.
The Los Angeles County Department of
Public Health held a contest to create the most eye-catching and informative
packaging for its free condoms, and … well, let's just say that eye-catching and
informative are what PETA does best.
Doctors say that the Atkins diet could be bad for the
animal shelters are slowly killing animals. Here's how.
What swim, have fins, and are radioactive? … And the male ones may
also have a lower sperm
count than natural as well as female body parts.
If people you know are still using
products that have been tested on animals, PETA's alarming video "Testing … One, Two, Three" might be all it takes
to change their minds.
What better way to celebrate a day that's
all about love than by showing how much you love animals? See how your big day
can make a big difference for our furry friends with PETA's vegan wedding guide.
If you need yet another reason to love
Stella McCartney, here's a big one: She's giving one lucky PETA supporter her Falabella Cross Body Bag, worth
$1,095. Enter to win it!
El Al Airlines has reneged on its
promise not to ship monkeys to laboratories. Tell the airline to stop profiting from cruelty to
The California State Legislature is
considering a bill that would ban using dogs to hunt bears and bobcats. Urge the Assembly to pass this
bill, which would protect all
three species from cruelty.
National Laboratories is poisoning squirrels on its grounds even though PETA
has given the company information on humane squirrel control. Urge Sandia to adopt the humane
and more effective methods.
Rob_ert|cc by 2.0
Frederick Keys minor league baseball team in Maryland is planning to strap
monkeys onto dogs' backs while the dogs herd sheep and to release a captured
dove as part of its between-innings entertainment. Tell the team that cruelty to animals has no place
in the great American pastime.
Revlon to come clean about whether it's paying for animal tests in order to
market its cosmetics in China, and encourage the company always to be cruelty-free.
each saltwater fish displayed on PETCO's shelves, nine more died before even
reaching the store as a result of their traumatic capture. Urge PETCO to stop dealing in
saltwater animals who were ripped from
their natural homes.
PETA always encourages guardians to take the best care
possible of their animal companions. These three recent news stories about dogs
at risk remind us why it's so important to stay mindful of canine care:
a frightening echo of the illnesses and deaths tied to melamine-tainted foods
from China five years ago, Chinese-made Waggin' Train and Canyon Creek Ranch jerky treats for dogs and
Milo's Kitchen Home-style Dog Treats have been implicated in kidney failure, liver disease, and other
illnesses in almost 1,000 dogs, with one death reported so far. Milo's Kitchen has even paid off at least one
sick dog's guardian in exchange for a release of liability. Please check your
cupboards and be sure you're giving your dogs only healthy, wholesome treats—you
can even make your own!
is offering a $1,000 reward to anyone who can help reunite a Texas man with his
beloved dog, Dolly, who has been missing ever since PETCO groomers carelessly let her escape from the
store. Unfortunately, this isn't an isolated incident—another dog was lost (though,
fortunately, found) after bolting
from groomers at an Illinois PetSmart.
Choose your groomer carefully, and stay away from PETCO, PetSmart, and other big-box stores.
Breaking Up Is Hard to Do
all hazards are physical. Anyone who's suffered a broken heart knows that a
divorce or other romantic bust-up takes an emotional toll on the former
sweethearts and on their children, but companion animals can be hurt, too. An
excellent feature in the Chicago Tribune
points out what can go
wrong—or right—when guardians go their separate ways.
more tips on repaying our four-legged pals' love and devotion, check out PETA's
guide to caring for dogs.
Sophie lives with a PETA staff member and receives lots of TLC
Good news out of New York: Following September's flood in
which nearly 100 animals
died when they were left to drown, PETCO has announced that its
Johnson City store will
not sell any animals upon reopening this month. The announcement is music to the ears of Johnson City
residents, dozens of whom joined a PETA-led demonstration last September aimed
at keeping PETCO from
This decision will save many animals from being bred and warehoused to supply the store, which seems appropriate considering all those terrified
animals who perished in the dark, cold waters. But PETCO still doesn't deserve
our business until it does the right thing and stops selling animals in all its stores nationwide, given the neglect and cruelty that occur at those locations
and that are rife within
the chain's animal suppliers, in addition to the fact that the animal-homelessness crisis—which PETCO itself
cites at its dog and cat adoption events—affects the very species the chain sells, too.
Kudos to Johnson City for forging such progress for
animals in the pet trade from the devastation that struck there. And remember,
folks—there's still a criminal investigation pending concerning the events
leading up to those animals' horrible deaths …
How You Can Help
Animals in Pet Stores
Please buy supplies for your companions only from retailers
that do not sell animals.
pledged in 2005
that it would end the sale of large birds in its stores. Last month, a concerned
PETCO customer noticed that a PETCO store in his area had a white-capped pionus,
a kind of parrot, for sale. The bird had apparently spent 14 months in a cage at the store, waiting for someone to buy her.
PETCO's price tag for the bird was $799, but for some time, there was a "Manager's
Special—50% Off" sign on the cage she was in, as if this sensitive bird were
an out-of-style shirt to be placed on the clearance rack.
PETA reached out to its contact at PETCO's corporate office
and got the complainant in touch with the pet trade giant. For once, PETCO did
the right thing and allowed the person who contacted PETA to adopt the bird, since
named Tegan, for a donation to the PETCO Foundation, which provides funds for
animal welfare organizations and spay-and-neuter efforts, among other things.
Tegan now has the run (fly?) of
the house and the company of other birds. The kind man who took her in
says that Tegan is a very affectionate bird who enjoys taking showers and who spends
at least 4 to 5 hours a day riding around on his shoulder, where she seems
happiest. You can find tips on caring for birds on
our companion animals webpage.
Two important lessons emerge from this case. One:
Never hesitate to speak up
when you suspect an animal needs help.
And the other? Don't support the pet trade—shop only at pet-supply stores that don't sell live animals.
Written by Lindsay Pollard-Post
new year is already looking a bit brighter for animals: A PETCO store in Dickson City,
has announced that it will close permanently on January 1—which is great news
for the hamsters, gerbils, mice, fish, and other small animals who suffer and
die every day in PETCO's stores and suppliers' facilities.
for the animals PETCO sells often consists of struggling to survive wild capture
or captive breeding in horrific conditions, suffering from untreated injuries
and illnesses, and fighting for food in feces-strewn, severely crowded cages.
At the massive breeding mills that supply live animals to the pet trade, PETA
investigations have revealed sick and dying animals placed in freezers to die,
live hamsters placed in a plastic bag and bashed against a table in an attempt to kill them, animals deprived
of veterinary care and left to cannibalize their cagemates' corpses,
and other horrors.
For the sake of small animals, please say "No"
to PETCO and other stores that sell animals.
Written by PETA
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
UPDATE: PETCO CEO
Jim Myers announced that the company will not reopen the Johnson City store
where approximately 100 animals died in flooding last month. The company is
reportedly looking for another location in the village, but outraged residents
don't want a PETCO store anywhere nearby. The district attorney's criminal
investigation of PETCO employees' actions and the animals' deaths continues.
following was originally posted on September 19, 2011:
PETA joined dozens of animal advocates who
participated in a protest calling for PETCO to leave Johnson City,
New York, after the multibillion-dollar company opted to abandon hundreds of
animals—about 100 of whom drowned
during massive flooding from Tropical Storm Lee.
Despite highly publicized flood warnings
and mandatory evacuation orders, the company had the gall to call the flooding "completely
unpredictable" and intentionally left the animals behind, which Johnson
City Mayor Dennis Hannon called "absolutely disgusting."
animals, including birds, guinea pigs, ferrets, hamsters, mice, and reptiles,
suffered and died as a result. Cars
that passed the 70 demonstrators honked and waved in support, showing that
Johnson City residents are ready for PETCO to start packing.
PETA and Mayor Hannon called for a criminal
investigation last week, and now that investigation is under way. Please join
us in thanking Broome County District Attorney Gerald Mollen for taking the
case seriously. E-mail him at email@example.com
or call his office at 607-778-2423. Please be polite in your correspondence with Mr. Mollen and his office.
Written by Michelle Sherrow
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.
Follow PETA on Twitter!
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.