Feds Cite Longtime Atlanta-Based Animal Supplier to PetSmart, Petco Over Cannibalism, Neglect

For Immediate Release:
September 14, 2021

Megan Wiltsie 202-483-7382


Dead hamsters in 21 enclosures—and one hamster being eaten alive—as well as gerbils unable to reach water and animals suffering from untreated eye problems, labored breathing, hair loss, and other issues were all referenced in a recent U.S. Department of Agriculture inspection report of locally based Sun Pet Ltd., which supplies animals to PetSmart and Petco. So today, PETA rushed a letter to PetSmart President and CEO J.K. Symancyk and Petco CEO and Chair Ron Coughlin urging them to reconsider their companies’ relationship with Sun Pet and to stop selling live animals from anywhere.

“Time after time, PETA’s investigations into suppliers of the pet trade industry have exposed widespread neglect, suffering, and death,” says PETA Senior Vice President Daphna Nachminovitch. “PETA is calling on PetSmart and Petco to end their animal sales and sever ties with the rampant misery at Sun Pet in one fell swoop.”

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 on PETA’s newsgathering and reporting, please visit PETA.org or follow the group on Twitter, Facebook, or Instagram.

A copy of PETA’s letter to Symancyk follows. PETA’s similar letter to Coughlin is available upon request.

September 14, 2021

J.K. Symancyk

President and CEO


Dear Mr. Symancyk:

I’m writing on behalf of PETA and our more than 9 million members and supporters worldwide to share with you the latest disturbing findings of widespread suffering, neglect, and filth at your longtime supplier Sun Pet Ltd.

According to an August 4 report, U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) veterinarians found that Sun Pet employees had failed to treat hamsters and a rabbit for swollen and crusted eyes, labored breathing, hair and weight loss, inflamed skin, and other issues. Federal agents discovered hamsters confined with dead animals to 21 enclosures—and one hamster being eaten alive by other severely stressed hamsters—but workers had not even noticed “pieces of deceased hamster” scattered throughout the animals’ food and bedding.

Inspectors found that 10 underweight gerbils who were unable to reach water ran up a step when one was provided and drank “voraciously.” Hamsters were kept in cracked enclosures, “green fuzz” was found on spilled food, and boxes confining hamsters were “roughly” handled and stacked precariously, “swaying … in the breeze.” The USDA cited Sun Pet for violating six federal regulations, as hundreds—if not far more—of the nearly 13,000 animals on site that day were affected by this apparently systemic negligence.

The widespread animal suffering at Sun Pet has been well documented, including during a 2009 PETA investigation that revealed a worker bashed live hamsters against a table, and more recently, when a Georgia Department of Agriculture inspection found that animals were being killed in a cracked gas box. Given that your acquisition of animals from Sun Pet is still ongoing, we urge you to reconsider whether you wish to remain affiliated with such abject misery and neglect. Regardless, what will it take for you to stop selling live animals altogether and instead promote the adoption of all animals and only sell supplies for them?

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


Daphna Nachminovitch

Senior Vice President

Cruelty Investigations Department

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