Undercover Investigation Reveals Neglect, Cruelty, and Filth at Another Pet Trade Supplier

A PETA investigator went undercover at Sun Pet Ltd., an Atlanta-based wholesale animal dealer that supplies animals to numerous PETCO and PetSmart locations, among other retailers across the U.S. Video footage and photos taken by PETA’s investigator show the widespread suffering of hundreds of birds, rabbits, guinea pigs, gerbils, mice, and rats in Sun Pet’s enormous warehouses. On April 22, 2010, Georgia Department of Agriculture representatives descended on Sun Pet, which was, unfortunately, tipped off well in advance and apparently took the opportunity to clean up its act. PETA has requested an investigation into the leak that prepped Sun Pet for the Department of Agriculture’s visit, but so far, no one has been held accountable for it.

In August 2010, PETA learned that the Georgia Department of Agriculture placed Sun Pet on probation for two years and imposed a penalty of $3,000 to be paid immediately if the company is found to be in significant, repeated, or similar violation of the state’s Animal Protection Act.

In addition to the misery of confinement to extremely crowded containers, forcing animals to eat, sleep, urinate, and defecate all in the same space, PETA’s investigator recorded the violent killing and abusive handling of hundreds of animals.

One worker put live hamsters into a bag and then bashed the bag against a table in an attempt to kill them—one of the animals was seen suffering and panting heavily minutes later. Other animals whom Sun Pet could not sell were gassed in a crude, filth-encrusted tank. Animals who got loose in the company’s warehouse suffered horribly after ingesting the poison that Sun Pet sets out to kill them.

A supervisor trained PETA’s investigator to determine animals’ genders by forcefully squeezing their abdomens “like a … PlayStation controller handle” to make their genitals “come out.” “You could throw them against the wall and they’ll stand back up again and keep on running,” Sun Pet’s supervisor said to PETA’s investigator when ordering him to pack and handle animals more quickly. In more than three months of employment, not once did PETA’s investigator see anyone from PETCO’s or PetSmart’s corporate offices inspecting Sun Pet’s facility. 

Sun Pet also purchased animals from U.S. Global Exotics, the filthy Texas warehouse from which more than 26,000 animals were seized in December 2009 following another PETA undercover investigation. Sun Pet also purchased thousands of animals from unlicensed vendors, in apparent violation of the federal Animal Welfare Act, despite previous warnings by the U.S. Department of Agriculture regarding such practices.

PETA’s investigator documented that PETCO and PetSmart stores returned animals suffering from illnesses and injuries, sometimes without food or water, to Sun Pet instead of providing them with veterinary care or basic necessities or even putting them out of their misery. The animals were hauled around in cardboard boxes in the backs of trucks traveling hundreds of miles and many hours from store to store until they finally got back to Sun Pet, and many died as a result. View photos taken by PETA’s undercover investigator.

Rats were forced to eat food tossed on top of their waste and onto another rat’s rotting remains.
As a result of severely crowded, unnatural conditions, small mammals often attacked, killed, and cannibalized one another.
Sick guinea pigs were left to languish in filthy, feces-filled enclosures.
Feather loss—as seen in these finches—frequently occurs when birds peck at one another, a sign of stress, which is often the result of severe crowding and continuous confinement.
Stressful conditions led to fights, resulting in painful injuries like this chinchilla’s head wound, which was left untreated.
Hamsters were confined to extremely crowded tubs before being shipped to PETCO stores.
Guinea pigs were severely crowded in bins, in which the drinking water that was available to them was contaminated with their own waste.
Many hamsters at Sun Pet suffered from hair loss and inflamed, irritated skin.
This filthy box served as Sun Pet’s gas chamber and was routinely used to kill animals deemed unsalable by the company.
Chinchillas were severely crowded in these tiny cages, causing them a great deal of stress and leading to fights and untreated injuries.
At Sun Pet, chinchillas were housed in stacked metal cages in a makeshift ‘room’ (similar to a storage shed) inside a massive warehouse.
Stressful conditions lead to fights, which leave animals with serious injuries, such as those suffered by this hamster.
Animals are kept en masse in row upon row of stacked bins and cages in giant warehouses.
Sick animals like this gerbil—whose left eye was sealed shut with mucus and whose hindquarters were coated with waste—are common at Sun Pet.
This hamster almost lost one ear entirely, and his other ear was torn—the result of crowding and stress-induced fighting.
At wholesale animal dealers like Sun Pet, small animals—such as these mice—are kept in severely crowded enclosures stacked on top of each other in massive warehouses.
Mice and rats are kept in extremely crowded, coffin-like bins.
Canaries and parakeets were regularly ‘found dead’ and recorded on one of the facility’s dead lists.
Hamsters are confined to stacked bins—many of which do not allow light in, subjecting animals to continuous confinement in the dark, sometimes for weeks on end.
After being attacked by other distressed hamsters, this hamster’s skull was left exposed.
At Sun Pet, hundreds of thousands of fish are kept in tanks stacked on top of each other in a massive warehouse.
Night after night, Sun Pet hauls hundreds of guinea pigs, hamsters, and other small animals across the country to pet store chains like PETCO and PetSmart in these dark, cramped cardboard boxes

You can help secure justice for all the sensitive individual animals peddled for profit by urging PETCO and PetSmart to stop selling live animals in their stores.

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