Animal Torture Case Prompts Appeal to PetSmart

PETA Urges Locally Headquartered Chain to Stop Selling Live Animals After Hamsters Reportedly Bought at a PetSmart Store Are Killed

For Immediate Release:
June 11, 2020

Nicole Meyer 202-483-7382

Phoenix, Ariz.

Following the arrest of a man who has been charged with six counts of cruelty to animals after allegedly stabbing and drowning hamsters he says he purchased at a PetSmart store, PETA has fired off a letter to PetSmart’s CEO urging the company to implement a screening system for animal buyers—or better yet, to end its sales of live animals entirely. PETA’s Emergency Response Team had received complaints about the man’s disturbing videos and provided law-enforcement authorities with extensive forensic research that helped in tracking him down.

“PetSmart sold vulnerable hamsters to someone who tortured them, in part because the chain sells vulnerable animals to anyone who can pay,” says PETA Senior Vice President Daphna Nachminovitch. “PETA is calling on PetSmart to try to prevent acts of cruelty like this from ever happening again—and the only foolproof way for it to do that is to stop selling animals.”

PETA—whose motto reads, in part, that “animals are not ours to abuse in any way”—opposes speciesism, a human-supremacist worldview. For more information, please visit or click here.

PETA’s letter to PetSmart President and CEO J.K. Symancyk follows.

June 11, 2020

J.K. Symancyk

President and CEO

PetSmart Inc.

Re: The Torture and Killing of Animals Purchased From PetSmart

Dear Mr. Symancyk,

Your attention is urgently requested. A British Columbia man has been charged with three counts of killing or injuring an animal and three counts of causing unnecessary pain or suffering to an animal, after torturing hamsters and distributing images of the abuse online. In an online post, the defendant explains that he “recently purchased … hamsters from PetSmart,” and a PetSmart box is in the video in which he first handles the animals, as seen in the attached screenshot.

We ask that PetSmart please honestly assess its practices and consider that the animals you sell remain completely vulnerable to the whims of anyone who has a few dollars to buy them. Given your company’s claim to “love pets”[1] and your personal goal of “be[ing] the trusted partner to pets and pet parents,”[2] we would like to know that you are taking immediate, concrete action to ensure that such a horrific incident will never recur if you can help it.

Will you immediately implement screening measures to at least attempt to prevent individuals who seek to harm animals from purchasing them and to ensure that buyers are capable of and committed to providing them with appropriate care? Better by far, given that thorough, adequate screening of customers is likely impossible for the volume of animals you sell, will you please stop selling them and instead focus on selling supplies to caring guardians who have adopted animals from qualified and appropriately staffed shelters?

I look forward to hearing from you. Thank you for your consideration.


Colin Henstock

Assistant Manager of Investigations

[1]PetSmart, “About PetSmart” <> (Last accessed on June X, 2020).

[2]“PetSmart Appoints J.K. Symancyk as Chief Executive Officer,”, May 21, 2018 <> (Last accessed on June X, 2020).

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