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Animals are not ours to eat, wear, experiment on, use for entertainment, or abuse in any other way.

PETCO Leaves Animals to Drown in Flood

Written by PETA | September 12, 2011

PETA is calling for a criminal investigation and appropriate charges after PETCO left hundreds of caged animals to die in its Johnson City, New York, store in massive flooding caused by Tropical Storm Lee.

Despite highly publicized flood warnings and a mandatory evacuation order from the town’s mayor, PETCO’s vice president of animal care (a misnomer if we ever heard one), Marcie Whichard, had the nerve to call the flooding “completely unpredictable” and admitted that “the decision was made to keep the animals in the store.”  Hundreds of birds, guinea pigs, ferrets, hamsters, mice, reptiles, and other animals were abandoned, forced to try to keep their heads above water as floodwaters rose. Nearly 100 animals died. One can only imagine the terror and suffering that these animals experienced, all because PETCO—a multibillion-dollar company—could not be bothered to make provisions for them.

This is not the first time that animals have suffered and died at PETCO‘s hands. The company has a history of chronic animal-welfare problems, including buying the animals it sells from massive mills that warehouse animals in filthy, severely crowded conditions; withhold veterinary care from sick, starving, and injured animals; throw live animals into the trash; and much, much more.

Please help obtain justice for the animals PETCO abandoned to drown by politely urging Broome County District Attorney Gerald Mollen to launch a criminal investigation into PETCO’s actions. Call his office at 607-778-2423 or e-mail him at gmollen@co.broome.ny.us. And please never buy animals or anything from stores like PETCO that see animals as nothing more than a way to make money.

 

Written by Lindsay Pollard-Post

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  • Jessica says:

    As hurricane Sandy moves in, my heart weeps heavily thinking of all the animals, children, elderly and disabled who rely on someone else to help them. I remember reading about this on the news and I was very upset.

  • Evan says:

    I understand there has been a lack of research into this issue. To believe that Petco has no interest in saving pets lives is atrocious. The simple fact is that it would have cost less to temporarily move the animals than it would have cost to lose them. So your argument contradicts itself. Petco is one of the largest proponents for adoption, and makes little to no money on that process. It is unfortunate that no employee could legally enter the building after flooding began, but it is more unfortunate that they miscalculated the intensity and damage of the storm. They have moved pets many times in the past, and had they understood the extent of the flooding, they would have moved them in this instance. I doubt this will be posted, as it reveals the rest of the story. I do hope you can find it in your good nature to allow a better understanding of this issue.

  • Jen says:

    I also live near Johnson City NY, and 10 minutes away from this store a Pet Depot in Vestal NY was also flooded…and the Pet Depot owners put themselves at risk and rescued/evacuated their animals WITH BORROWED KAYAKS! It may be true that PETCO couldn’t predict the flooding was going to happen, but they had time to do something humane. Worksites and schools began evacuating before noon that day, I have a hard time believing true animal lovers working at that site felt comfortable leaving their shifts and leaving those animals caged there (especially being that site flooded before, and the area was being evacuated). Pet Depot will certainly get all my business now!! It was good to hear a heroic story after this sickening PETCO tragedy.

  • Mercy Devereaux says:

    I just heard about the atrocity of neglect that Petco’s managers perpetrated. I call out for justice. These miserable excuses for human beings belong in a cage themselves. If criminal charges are not filed, then our system of law is a profound failure. In addition, I have learned that animal cruelty is the bread and butter of this organization. Neglect, poor care, and horrible methods of purchase and shipping are bad enough, but the deliberate abandonment of living things to die in a most horrible manner is just to sickening to contemplate. I hear the employees wanted to house them and care for them during the disaster. Why didn’t they? Simply pick them up and walk out. Call it theft if you wish. I call it rescue. I am certain the media would have jumped on that story. Shame on all of you, workers, managers, and corporate alike. You all had a chance to prove your humanity….. and you failed miserably. May you all reap what you have sewn.

  • Meredith says:

    I am from Johnson City NY. My family is currently recovering from the devastating flood that happened this past week. We also experienced similar conditions in 2006. My grandmother’s home is within walking distance of the Petco store. I wrote to Petco,and tried to use small words so they would understand what I was trying to say because I have serious doubts about the brain functioning of the employees at the local and corporate level. The area of this store flooded in 2006. The warnings to evacuate this time were locally and nationally broadcast. They left innocent, helpless animals to suffer and die in cold, raging floodwaters. I will never, ever set foot in any of their stores again, nor will anyone in my immediate family. No matter how much Petco declares to care about animals on their website, their “communication” problems they had the week of the flooding will hopefully ultimately cause them to lose business. I believe that is all Petco truly cares about. I drove into Johnson City today to help my family and support the protesters outside Petco. Thank you PETA for trying to bring justice to this situation.

  • Laila says:

    Regarding Neil’s comment- I live 20 minutes away from the JC PETCO. That area is a known flood zone. It flooded 5 years ago. They were evacuated- that’s the flood warning- nobody should have to spell it out for them. Employee’s didn’t try to get in until after the store had flooded. You’re right, they probably didn’t purposely leave the animals to die, but they sure didn’t think twice about the possibility- and since the flood they have blamed everyone and anyone. They have not taken any responsibility. As far as I’m concerned these people are too stupid to be in charge of the lives of animals and if they end up jobless, they deserve it. I’m sure they can find a job as a stockboy or cashier somewhere else- somewhere where animals won’t die because of their lack of intelligence and common sense.

  • neil says:

    I don’t think “petco” Purposefully left their animals to die a tragic death. Do you really think a huge company like that would want such negative publicity as it might impact their “bottom line”. Just out of sheer economics sake they would have done everything possible to get those animals to safety, albeit for selfish reasons but none-the-less, to safety. Secondly it is plausible they didn’t realize the amount of flooding that would occur and from what I understand many employees tried but were turned away by those in authority. I feel bad for the lives of those animals but to boycott petco and possibly put that store out of business and more people out of work is more cruel than snakes passing away.

  • Melonie says:

    Stories like this make me sick to my stomach and embarrassed to be a human. I just cannot wrap my head around crap like this. All I can do is pray.

  • lisa says:

    This is just an outsider opinion as being from the UK and we dont have weather like you the most we have is the odd flood or bit of snow, what ive read from other posters to me and probably the rest of world think that PETCO had plenty of time to remove the animals out of danger and there seemed to be alot of people who would of helped them, quite frankly they just left the animals to die, why do you people buy from them??? give them your money??? there’s plenty of different animals in shelters desperate for a home. A poster called Janet said she hardly ever go’s through their doors but then said they are more expensive than other chains how did she know that???? and also Carol Frayne’s comment sorry to sound blunt but you dont need a degree to work out if an animal is dead or alive especially if the rest are chewing on it and you saw budgies sitting on the cage floor cleary not well or moving what did you do about it???? did you just leave the store??? knowing the animals were suffering, do’s anyone report what they have seen or do you just walk away??

  • Patty says:

    For a company as big as this…here’s your simply action plan…a climate control truck…large enough to house the animals safely…drive it to a location out of the way…aka…mountain, hill, diffent county…it provides an immediate and temporary shelter until it can be decided if the animal can be safely transported back to their original prison or be brought to a new prison…there you go. No thinking needed…I just did it for you.

  • boycottpetco says:

    boycott and picket petco nationwide !!!!!

  • Sherri says:

    Petco are ediotic to the fullest. Just seeing the way they act when I thought of purchasing a kitten from them disghusted me 100% They yanked a cat that was asleep right out of the cage and didnt even show a concern as to hurting the animal. The poor cat screamed. I walked out of the store and never went back. This was about 4 yrs ago. This is what really did it though.

  • Bonnie says:

    I will never set foot inside a petco store again and hopefully no one that I know (or don’t know) also never go through a petco store.

  • 7catskerry says:

    Me and many of my friends sat out side of a pet shop in a mall close to my town. We did this when my friends aunt got a job thier and they told her to take 4 ginny pigs that werent selling and gas them and do other cruel things for them to die we got an investigation and we won and that store is now gone and hopefully all pet shops like that one day will be gone ! ITS HORRIABLE .

  • Joe Majernik, Endicott New York says:

    They were Gods creatures and reliant on their humans to care for them. In the wild they could have saved themselves. Instead, humans decided to turn their backs and let them perish. According to the Bible not all killing is murder. Murder is the unlawful taking of a human life. The command not to murder applies to human beings and not to animals. God gave animals to mankind for his use (Genesis 1:26-30; 9:1-4). But, this does not mean that humans have the right mistreat animals and the environment (Genesis 2:15; Deuteronomy 22:6-7; 25:4; Proverbs 12:10).

  • animal lover says:

    I love animals and any time an animal suffers abuse I feel very sad. I certainly understand that they could not predict how high the water might get – but there were flood warnings. So in the effort to truly care for the animals who were caged any NORMAL person would certainly go and get these animals out of dangers way. So what I am saying is that the person or persons who made the decision to do nothing is NOT-NORMAL. That person should be fired and the store should certainly be heavily fined – that will send the message “our animals are part of our family” and when they are sick or die we mourn them! Please be mindful and make the right decision so everyone can truly know that what happened here is not acceptable – no matter what the excuse!

  • Liz says:

    I live in Broome County. PETCO experienced flooding during the last major flood, though not to this extent. This means they had FIVE YEARS to develop an emergency plan should this ever happen again. Given that they did not do that, there were many people who offered to help rescue the animals. This county (and the surrounding area) is filled with folks who do regular animal rescue, both domestic and wildlife. These are heroic, knowledgeable people. That these offers of help were refused, when there was plenty of time to orchestrate the rescue, is just total bullshit. These people need to be held accountable for this murderous approach to animals.

  • Lisa, Johnson City, NY says:

    I live right down the street from PETCO and when I heard about this I was APPALLED and OUTRAGED (I cried for hours)! PETCO had PLENTY OF TIME to get those animals out, PLENTY!! I walked down there Wed. late afternoon and the water had not gotten to them YET, it WAS just a matter of time when it would. They had to know it was going to happen, it was a given that they would have gotten flooded since the same thing happened in that plaza in 2006, just ask Toys R Us. THEY HAD PLENTY OF TIME!!!!!!! PLENTY OF TIME!!!! Even if there was water I would have done everything in my power to get in that store and get them out, see that is the difference between a person who cares about animals and those who don’t, I would have risked my life to save them no ifs, ands or buts!! I was mortified to hear that all those poor animals suffered a horrendous death because the employees didn’t care enough to get them out. If they don’t care about animals then they should never have been an employee there. I WILL NEVER, EVER BUY FROM THAT STORE EVER AGAIN and I will tell everyone I know not to! All I can see in my head are those poor innocent animals struggling and fighting and crying to get out, my heart just breaks! What did they do to deserve this??? These animals depended on those people to take care of them, to help get them out to safety and if they needed to help all they had to do was ask, I know several people who would have been there – me included. It’s bad enough that this flood happened to all these people and their animals, they lost soooo much but to have this on top of that THERE IS NOOO EXCUSE! I’m just sick over this. PETCO MISJUGDED the risk of flooding at their store location????? REALLY????????? BULL CRAP! THEY HAD PLENTY OF TIME TO GET THOSE ANIMALS OUT! They say hamsters or reptiles losing their lives does not compare to people losing their homes and livelihoods BULL, BULL, BULL, BULL!!!!!!! A life is a life is a life no matter what it is! Humans and animals ALL suffer, ALL feel pain, ALL have the SAME FEELINGS! I have no respect for people that don’t have any respect for animals. I’m glad I know no one at PETCO. PETA, I am right there with you and if there is anything that I can do I MOST DEF. WILL!

  • Kelly says:

    I live approx. a 10 minute drive from the store in Johnson City. Our county was ravaged by this flood. I live up on a hill and sat feeling helpless knowing that others were suffering that entire day and the days after. Had PETCO contacted the news or radio stations making a statement that they needed help moving those animals I am POSITIVE that they would have had immediate response. I know I would have found a way there to help. I have lived in this county my entire life and I know that 100′s of people would have showed up offering any help they needed. All they needed to do was ask.They would have had more help than they needed. NO EXCUSE for what they have done. I have never shopped there before and I certainly wont ever support them now. In fact, I hope they decide not to rebuild and get out of our community!

  • meikilove says:

    I just can’t help but think, why can’t organizations like PETA prepare pet parents and their pets before natural disasters occur? We focus so much on products that aren’t pet friendly and yet we can’t find a way to give people the option to mobilize their pets our of harms way? During the hurricane in NY I had a friend stay with me because they were evacuation towns and not allowing people to bring their pets. There were limited areas that allowed people to bring their pets, but we could’ve used some bigger help. Let’s try to save them BEFORE disaster strikes and not point and blame after it’s too late.

  • jazbo says:

    Perspective – This was wrong and should be investigated, but how many animals died outside during this monumental flooding. Many many millions I’d guess. And they are worth no less. Should we sue mother nature?

  • Liz Johnson says:

    TO: Jim Myers, CEO, PETCO – Your statement that “we were able to rescue the majority of the animals” is NOT TRUE, by the time you went to the store on Friday the majority of these poor animals were already dead. They suffered and drowned in their CAGES, there’s no way the FERRETS were rescued. We here in Johnson City, NY know the TRUTH and you will not be able to LIE about the condition of the animals when you FINALLY went into the Store on Friday, Sept. 9th…I saw myself how high the water was and there is no way the majority of animals survived! I would venture to say that mostly cacasses were removed on Friday. I don’t know how the manager of this Store can sleep at night – complete INCOMPETENCE !!

  • Doc says:

    These people at PETCO need to be brought up on charges . Not let this be swept away with a fine and a canned corporate apology . They do not care for animals they buy them from warehouses that have deplorable conditions . Whats needed is a rally against their stores picketing them so no one shops there again . Drive their sales into the ground . It would please me to no end to see them out of business . I cannot imagine the horror those poor animals went through as the water rose .

  • Marsha says:

    As an pet owner, I find this very upsetting, inexcusable and criminal. I’ve been shopping at PetCo for years. I will never step foot in their stores again.

  • RON WELLS says:

    THE CEO OF PET SMART SHOULD BE THANKFULL THAT THEY HAVE EMPLOYEES THAT CARED, THAT THE SAFTEY OF ALL THE ANIMALS WOULD BE TAKEN CARE OF.BUT INSTEAD THEY MADE A MAJOR CORPORATE DECISION TO LEAVE THEM BEHIND. CAN YOU SAY INSURANCE MONEY!!!!! I HOPE THAT NONE OF THOSE PEOPLE ARE ALLOWED TO HAVE ANY PETS OF THEIR OWN.THESE JUST MAKES ME SICK THAT THIS WAS ALLOWED TO HAPPEN TO THESE ANIMALS.I HOPE THAT YOU HAVE TROUBLE SLEEPING NIGHTS FOR WHAT HAPPENED. THE PROUD OWNER OF 10 PETS OF MY OWN,,, RON WELLS

  • Janet says:

    My heart is broken at the thought of what those poor animals went thru. Petco should be brought up on charges for murder and negligence (at the very least). I never really liked the chain and hardly even walked thru the doors, much less purchased anything there…but now, I vow to NEVER buy or go into another Petco again! Their prices are much higher than other chains anyway, so this senseless negligence and murder is the BEST reason to boycott their stores from now on! I have never thought pet chain stores should sell live animals. Most employees cannot even tell you about the animals they have in their care. And these pet chains NEVER tell you about the “backroom” where they have sick and dying animals. I have heard and read many complaints about Petco and as far as I am concerned, their license to sell any animals should be revoked nationwide. Besides, they get their animals from warehouses that abuse animals and if we can eliminate live animal sales from pet stores, it will put these warehouses out of business. The cruelty has to stop. If it were not for PETA, the word would not be out exposing animal cruelty and senseless heartbreaking exposure of what humans do to God’s creatures. I urge everyone to talk about animal cruelty every chance you get!!!

  • Lynn Nelson says:

    Petco should be investigated for letting 100+ animals drown in you Johnson City store in N.Y.due to flooding. To praise yourself as caring for animals as much as Petco does is disgusting.While the employees cared for themselves they just left the terrified animals to fend for themselves-which they couldn’t since they were caged. Beyond being terrified they could’t escape the water that slowly drown them. As I mentioned please launch a full scale investigation as to why Petco and its’ employees did what they did. It is more than deplorable and sickens me.Please see to it that they are prosocuted to the fullest extent and then some. Please make an example of Petco that show them that they can not get away with such cruelty. Till something is done we refuse to show at Petco ever again. Lynn Nelson jarcstudent9@gmail.com POB 180144 Chicago,IL 60618-2739

  • CAROL FRAYNE says:

    I was recently in the Petco in West Babylon and they had ferrets there in a small domed bedding area. I had my small granddaughter with me and we were looking at the animals. However, I noticed one animal not moving at all and lying on is side and another chewing on it. I waited to see if the animal would move but it was being harrassed by the other ferret. As I stood there I realized the animal was dead and immediately went to the sales person and told them. They told me they would get someone to take a look. In the meantime I had to told onto my granddaughter as she was not restrained and as I left the store I was told by another sales assistant that the ferret was alive but just sleeping! I don’t think for a moment this was true. I don’t know why PETCO is still selling animals in this way. They had budgies which were clearly not well sitting on the cage floors and not moving. I think most people who work in these places are ignorant of the needs of animals and at the end of the day get paid minimum wage to use minimum brain.

  • angelforanimals says:

    I will drive way out of my way to provide my pets with food and toys; I will NEVER patronize Petco. This company has a HISTORY of animal abuse! Put them out of business!!.

  • Dee Marie says:

    Thank u

  • michelle says:

    I live here in broome county and I feel staff sucks they knew the flood was coming and all should also be fired, News was warning everyone all morning and all night

  • KAREN JONES says:

    Outrageous. These innocent animals were in your care and you should have had a plan to keep them out of danger.

  • ESTHER says:

    IT IS WITHOUT ANY DOUBT THAT PETCO SHOULD BE HELD RESPONSIBLE FOR THE 100 OR SO ANIMALS BASICALLY KILLED DUE TO THIS CORPORATIONS INABILITY TO HAVE ANY TYPE OF EMERGENCY PLAN. AND YET, THEY CORPORATION CAN SIGN A LEASE IN A KNOW FLOOD AREA. THE IDEA THAT NEIGHBORS AND EMPLOYEES BEGGED MANAGMENT TO MOVE THE ANIMALS AND OFFERED UP THEIR OWN HOMES TO KEEP THE ANIMALS SAFE FOR A FEW DAYS, THEIR OFFERS WERE REJECTED IS BEYOND BELIEF. IT IS ANIMAL CRUELTY. IMAGINE BEING IN A LOCKED CAGE WITH WATER SLOWLY RISING UNTIL YOU CANNOT BREATHE. TAKE THEIR LICENSE TO HAVE LIVE ANIMALS AWAY. THEY CAN SELL FOOD AND CARRIERS. I WILL NEVER NEVER SHOP THERE EVER AGAIN. ESTHER CHEN

  • Edith R. Burch says:

    Thank you..