Feds Cite Petco, PetSmart Supplier Over Animal Neglect, Cannibalism

For Immediate Release:
September 21, 2021

Megan Wiltsie 202-483-7382

Atlanta – PETA has just obtained a newly released, damning federal inspection report about PetSmart and Petco supplier Sun Pet Ltd. documenting that dead hamsters’ partially eaten bodies were found in nearly two dozen enclosures—and that a hamster was eaten alive—along with other violations of six federal regulations. In response, PETA has sent letters to PetSmart President and CEO J.K. Symancyk and Petco CEO and Chair Ron Coughlin urging them to reconsider their companies’ relationships with Sun Pet and to stop selling live animals altogether.

The August 4 report details systemic neglect affecting hundreds—if not far more—of the nearly 13,000 animals onsite at the Atlanta-based animal dealer. Workers didn’t notice that “pieces of deceased hamster” were scattered throughout the animals’ food and bedding. Gerbils had been denied access to water for so long that they drank “voraciously” when finally given some, hamsters were kept in cracked enclosures, “green fuzz” was found on spilled food, and boxes confining hamsters were stacked precariously, “swaying … in the breeze.” Other animals suffered from untreated eye problems, labored breathing, and hair and weight loss.

“Sun Pet deprived animals of water, let sick ones suffer, and left them for dead in filthy cages,” says PETA Senior Vice President Daphna Nachminovitch. “Neglect and misery run rampant in the pet trade, which is why PETA urges shoppers to steer clear of PetSmart and Petco stores and any others with live animals for sale.”

Petco and PetSmart have long been under fire for their live-animal sales. A PETA investigation into PetSmart stores revealed animal neglect and led PetSmart store managers in Nashville, Tennessee, to plead guilty to cruelty-to-animals charges. In 2019, the Colorado Department of Agriculture hit multiple Petco stores with more than 80 violations of the state’s Pet Animal Care Facilities Act, including for neglect, filth, and poor recordkeeping. And a previous PETA investigation into Sun Pet revealed that a worker bashed live hamsters against a table and that other acts of abuse were committed.

PETA—whose motto reads, in part, that “animals are not ours to abuse in any way”—opposes speciesism, a human-supremacist worldview. The group’s letters to PetSmart and Petco are available upon request. For more information on PETA’s newsgathering and reporting, please visit PETA.org or follow the group on Twitter, Facebook, or Instagram.

For Media: Contact PETA's
Media Response Team.


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 Ingrid E. Newkirk

“Almost all of us grew up eating meat, wearing leather, and going to circuses and zoos. We never considered the impact of these actions on the animals involved. For whatever reason, you are now asking the question: Why should animals have rights?” READ MORE

— Ingrid E. Newkirk, PETA President and co-author of Animalkind