PETA Calls for Criminal Investigation of PetSmart for Allowing Animal Deaths Despite Repeated Flood Warnings

PETA Calls for Criminal Investigation After Dozens of Animals Are Left to Die as Store Floods

For Immediate Release:
October 13, 2015

David Perle 202-483-7382

Columbia, S.C.

While flooding was sweeping through Columbia, South Carolina, on October 3, dozens of small animals and numerous fish were reportedly abandoned at PetSmart store #2423, and only a few survived, as flood waters ravaged the store. PETA has rushed a letter to local law-enforcement officials to urge them to open a criminal investigation of PetSmart management, which indicated that it chose to evacuate dogs and cats ahead of the storm yet left many other animals behind. The National Weather Service had issued flood advisories beginning on October 2, which included warnings for urban flooding and flash floods. The store is located next to a stream.

“Although they had ample warning and numerous flood advisories, PetSmart representatives, apparently knowingly and intentionally, left animals in the store, caged and unable to escape rising waters,” says PETA Senior Vice President Daphna Nachminovitch. “PETA is calling for an immediate criminal investigation into and applicable charges for this callous and negligent behavior.”

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PETA’s letter to Marli Drum, superintendent of the Columbia Animal Services Division, and the Honorable Dan Johnson of the Fifth Judicial Circuit Solicitor’s Office follows.

October 12, 2015

To:       Marli Drum, Superintendent, Columbia Animal Services Division
The Honorable Dan Johnson, Fifth Judicial Circuit Solicitor’s Office

From:   Kristin DeJournett, Cruelty Casework Associate Manager, PETA

Re:       Recent Animal Drownings at PetSmart on Garners Ferry Road

Your urgent attention is respectfully requested.

Our office has been inundated with calls regarding reports of animals left by PetSmart employees to drown in store #2423 on Garners Ferry Road in Columbia, where flooding, which was forecasted, occurred. According to a news source, the store experienced significant flooding on Saturday, October 3, and a PetSmart statement reported that dogs and cats were evacuated from the store, “[a]s a precautionary measure”—which is evidence of the store management’s knowledge of the impending danger. PetSmart staff, however, apparently knowingly and intentionally left other animals in the store caged and unable to escape rising waters, and many small animals died in the deluge.

We respectfully request a criminal investigation into this matter and ask that charges be filed where appropriate.

The area in which PetSmart store #2423 is located received repeated severe weather and flood warnings:

  • On Wednesday, September 30, the National Weather Service (NWS) predicted record levels of rainfall and flash flooding.
  • On Thursday, October 1, the governor declared a state of emergency.
  • On Friday, October 2, local news stations predicted record floods, and the NWS issued a flood advisory for urban and small streams. Store #2423 is located adjacent to an urban stream that drains into the Congaree River.
  • The NWS issued a flood warning early Saturday morning (October 3) for Columbia and Richland County that was extended through the weekend and beyond as conditions worsened.
  • President Obama declared a federal state of emergency in South Carolina on Saturday, October 3, at 6:25 p.m.Despite these myriad warnings (complete list attached), PetSmart staff closed the store Saturday night after evacuating some animals and left others stranded in cages to experience horrific and terrifying deaths as floodwaters rose around them and knocked out power. Thank you for your time and for the difficult work that you do. I hope to hear from you soon.


Kristin DeJournett
Cruelty Casework Associate Manager
Cruelty Investigations Department

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