Secretly Shot Video Shows Animals Frozen Alive, Gassed at Supplier to Big-Box Pet Stores

PETA Video Prompts Federal Inspection, Investigation of Animal Mill Supplying PetSmart, Petco, and Others

For Immediate Release:
January 20, 2016

David Perle 202-483-7382

Douglass Township, Pa.

Following a three-month PETA eyewitness video investigation that documented that animals were frozen alive and gassed by the dozens at Holmes Farm, a huge Pennsylvania animal mill, the U.S. Department of Agriculture just completed an inspection and opened an investigation of the facility. Holmes Farm supplies guinea pigs, hamsters, chinchillas, gerbils, and other small animals to hundreds of stores along the East Coast, including those operated by PetSmart, Petco, and Pet Supplies Plus.

“PETA reminds shoppers that, just like puppies who are bred in puppy mills, animals sold at PetSmart come from massive warehouses where they are kept in filthy, crowded bins—often without basic necessities—and even deprived of vital veterinary care,” says PETA Senior Vice President Daphna Nachminovitch. “Our message to consumers is to make a New Year’s resolution never to buy animals or even supplies from any pet store that sells animals.”

PETA’s eyewitness documented that up to 50 small animals of different species were layered on top of each other inside a waste-filled cooler and gassed with carbon dioxide. Animals were shelved in bins or stacked in wire-floored cages in buildings that reeked of waste, and hundreds of small animals were found dead, often in bins where there was no water available. Sick or injured animals were deprived of basic veterinary care and left to suffer, and some died. PetSmart and Petco stores returned sick and injured animals, some of whom were dead on arrival or died shortly thereafter. Some rats evidently carried rat-bite fever—a potentially fatal disease transmissible to humans that has led to two lawsuits against Petco—and cats were allowed to roam freely inside housing areas for small animals, terrifying and often killing them.

This is PETA’s fifth exposé revealing the abusive and filthy conditions endured by animals who are bred for sale at big-box pet store chains. PETA—whose motto reads, in part, that “animals are not ours to abuse in any way”—has shared its findings with these chains and is urging consumers to adopt and never buy animals, even small animals who, like dogs and cats, await adoption in U.S. animal shelters and rescue organizations.

Broadcast-quality video footage and photographs from PETA’s investigation are available. For more information, please visit

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