In his historic decision earlier this week, Arlington municipal judge Michael Smith noted that the evidence that our undercover investigator collected during months as an employee of the exotic animal warehouse U.S. Global Exotics (USGE)—including a picture of a hedgehog whose leg had been chewed off and video footage of dying snakes and a wallaby who had been left to perish in a filthy, windowless room—depicted conditions that are not unique and that even reflect the entire industry’s standards:
Evidence was received which indicated that this facility was operated in accordance with industry standards of the exotic animal trade. While this may be true, this Court is not free to substitute those standards for the standards set by Texas statutes.
Think about that for a minute or two. USGE was a model animal dealer for the pet trade and, as Fort Worth Zoo employee Mike Doss testified, a facility by which others could be judged.
PETA’s evidence was vital to Judge Smith’s ruling to divest Jasen and Vanessa Shaw—owners and operators of USGE, which supplies pet stores and pet store chains all over the world, including suppliers of PETCO and PetSmart—of the more than 26,000 animals who were seized from USGE on December 15. Since the ruling, the media has remained abuzz with outrage over the widespread, “standard” abuse of animals in the pet trade industry.
This isn’t the first time we have gone undercover behind the tightly shut doors of the pet trade. Our investigation of Rainbow World Exotics revealed similar conditions. Unfortunately, that investigation didn’t make an ounce of difference to the multimillion dollar pet-supply companies, which both refused to sever ties with Rainbow and continue to buy animals there to this day. It just goes to show that the only “standards” the industry has are the ones that have to do with profit, not animal welfare.
We’re urging PetSmart shareholders to support our resolution to ban the purchase of animals from all distributors that are under investigation for violations of the law. Not much to ask, is it? Until everyone shuns pet stores and tells everyone they know to do the same, hellholes like USGE will continue to operate.
Written by Logan Scherer