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Pet Store Mice Prove Deadly

Written by Michelle Kretzer | August 23, 2012

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

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  • Anila Reso says:

    We bought mice from Petsmart, not trusting Petco, and Ginger (my younger mouse) bites alot of fear. Jade (my older one) was gotten at the same time. They came from the back storage room, because the ones on display were older by a month or two, and they weren’t the colors i was hoping for. Ginger and Jade came from the back rooms and were carried out in a plastic shoebox, they seemed healthy and we adopted them. They are still very healthy, but I am concerned about why they weren’t also out being shown, and why they were in the back room. After reading this article, I don’t know if I can trust any petstore with live animals, esspecially not petco after hearing they threw a baby iguana into a dumpster in Texas in 100 degrees, also the habitats are dirty and unclean.
    Now, the mice are 10x happier in their new home, and defiently healthier.

  • richard sievert says:

    One bit my wife, and now she belives me that something is wrong with petsmart! They gave our mice shots befor they gave them to us, and we questioned that? Beware of this place, and if I find out she has it heads will role I controled my bite with expensive colodial silver and black wormwood mixed with walnut bark but it’s not cheap, and when I stop using it it returns!

    • Anila Reso says:

      When I got my mice, the clerk just brought them out from storage or something. He just scooped them up gently, and let me pet them, and put them in the carrier that you bring them home in. Thats it. He didn’t give them shots, but those shots are either steriods, or something to keep them healthy… IDK, but I don’t trust their vet care. I’d much rather bring them to a reputable exotic/small animal vet.

  • Yo says:

    Thomas, you are obviously an animal lover. I love snakes as well, but could never keep one due to their diet. I only hope you are vegan, considering your love for creatures. I’ve been vegetarian for 25 years, but recently went vegan (for good–I tried once but had to have cheese–now known to me as brick o’ pus). I feel so much better getting the hypocrisy off my chest.

  • ExStore Employee says:

    I worked up until a little while ago at one of these pet stores. I was let go because I believe I was talking to another ex employee about the betta fish. I felt so bad for them living (for weeks) and dying in dirty little cups. The live feeder food animals are just left and forgotten about. I know they are going to be food but they are living things! How can I say I care about animals when cruelty is being sold in a store I work for? No I will not tow the line.

  • M says:

    Rachael: Just because you may be kind to the pets sold at your particular place of employment doesn’t mean you are doing any good. In fact you are also supporting the inhumane treatment of animals. Where do you think all of the animals are coming from? Reputable breeders? Highly unlikely. Even if there was a slight chance that they did you could never guarantee that the pets you are selling are actually going to good homes. The only way to stop the disgusting and cruel treatment is to NEVER sell animals in a pet store. End of story.

  • Rachael says:

    First, it is PetSmarts policy that we will refuse everyone who wants to buy small animals for food. I also know, being I am in the Pet care position at my store, that i care for those animals just like i would my own. Just because one store with cruel emplyees did something wrong doesnt mean everyones bad.

  • Dante says:

    the pet stores do not sale small animals just for feeding to snakes they sale them as pets because they have antibiotics that will kill the snakes if they eat them and i have 2 snakes a ball python and a burmese python i dont not feed them live prey and never will but after watching a video on here i will NOT buy any live pets from ANY kind of pet store

  • Thomas says:

    I don’t think snakes should be legal to be kept as pets because people feed them live animals. Its very cruel and its not the snakes’ fault, I know they are very intelligent. Its the peoples’ fault. If snakes were illegal a lot of these rodents wouldn’t even exist. I have completely stopped shopping at Petco and Petsmart because they sell animals for this purpose. They don’t care about animals. They only sell small animals so they can sell you a ridiculously overpriced $100 cage and all other overpriced accessories and food. It’s all about profit for them.