New PETA Exposé Includes Damning Findings From North Carolina Petco Stores

Dead and Ailing Betta Fish Found During Visits to Seven North Carolina Stores; Retailer Urged to End Sales

For Immediate Release:
May 21, 2019

David Perle 202-483-7382

Raleigh, N.C. – As part of its nationwide campaign urging Petco to end its notoriously inhumane sales of betta fish, PETA is releasing a new video exposé revealing that listless, sick, and dead bettas were found floating in barren plastic containers with low water levels at Petco stores across the country, including seven locations in North Carolina. In response to the findings, PETA’s president sent an urgent letter to the retailer’s CEO, Ron Coughlin, today calling for an immediate end to the chain’s betta fish sales.

PETA eyewitnesses uncovered rampant, systemic neglect of these vulnerable fish while visiting more than 100 Petco locations—including in Raleigh and Durham, where dead bettas were found in one store, obviously ailing ones were found in two stores, and water contaminated by old food, feces, and algae was found in all seven stores visited. A betta at a Chapel Hill store who had been sick for months and was swimming on his side was simply offered at a discounted price rather than being provided with the veterinary care that he needed, while a staffer at a store in Raleigh admitted that it was difficult to tell why a betta had died but that “fin rot” was possible.

“Betta fish are complex, vulnerable little animals who are being left to languish in filthy water and denied care for sickness, to the horror of decent Petco staff and customers,” says PETA Executive Vice President Tracy Reiman. “PETA’s disturbing findings have revealed widespread suffering at Petco stores across the country, and the company needs to betta fish sales immediately.”

PETA—whose motto reads, in part, that “animals are not ours to abuse in any way”—opposes speciesism, which is a human-supremacist worldview. The group notes that betta fish are often starved for days during transport to stores and that many die in transit. Scores of Petco customers have reported finding dead, sick, and injured bettas floating in filthy water on the store’s shelves.

Broadcast-quality video footage from PETA’s exposé is available here. For more information, please visit

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