USDA Confirms Suffering and Death at Animal Mill; PetSmart So Far Unresponsive Regarding Viral Video Exposé of Its Animal Supplier
For Immediate Release:
May 20, 2016
David Perle 202-483-7382
Phoenix – The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) has just posted its 10-page inspection report of Holmes Farm, a massive Pennsylvania animal mill and the subject of a recent video exposé by PETA. The inspection took place in early January as an initial response to evidence that PETA presented revealing that animals were frozen alive, stacked in filthy wire-floored cages, and deprived of adequate food, water, and veterinary care. The report indicates that USDA inspectors found at least 117 instances of violations of 14 federal laws.
Holmes Farm, which had contested the USDA’s findings and remains under federal investigation, is a supplier of guinea pigs, hamsters, chinchillas, gerbils, and other small animals to hundreds of stores. PETA’s video has gone viral, receiving more than 5 million views online, and more than 120,000 people have participated in the organization’s action alert calling on PetSmart to stop selling animals. Petco and Pet Supplies Plus have announced that they have now terminated their relationships with Holmes Farm, but PetSmart has so far been silent.
“Holmes Farm is just one of the suppliers to PetSmart that have been exposed for systemic neglect of and cruelty to animals,” says PETA Senior Vice President Daphna Nachminovitch. “It’s now time for consumers to speak up with their dollars and pledge not to buy anything from stores that sell live animals.”
According to the USDA inspection report, 36 animals “were found in need of veterinary care” for “hair loss, eye abnormalities, loose stool/diarrhea, and general lethargy/depression.” Sixteen dead animals were found among live animals and “in various states of decomposition.” When officials with the USDA’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) “questioned [Holmes Farm] personnel in charge of performing euthanasia and the methods which they were trained, the reply was that the procedure was ‘learned on the internet.'” Additionally, a “strong ammonia smell” in a hamster room “began to … burn APHIS officials’ eyes and noses.”
This was PETA’s fifth exposé revealing the abusive conditions endured by animals who are bred for sale at big-box pet store chains. In February, another PETA video investigation showed that hundreds of reptiles and other animals were cruelly killed, found dead, or left to suffer without basic veterinary care at Reptiles by Mack in Xenia, Ohio, which breeds and supplies reptiles to PetSmart. PETA—whose motto reads, in part, that “animals are not ours to abuse in any way”—is urging consumers never to buy pet supplies from retailers that sell any animals.