PETA has released disturbing video footage and photographs of systemic neglect and widespread animal suffering documented by an eyewitness during an investigation of three PetSmart, Inc., stores across the country, including one in Peoria, near the company’s Phoenix headquarters. The investigation—which also included PetSmart locations in Brandon, Florida, and Nashville, Tennessee—prompted authorities to execute a search warrant at the Nashville store Thursday morning.
A supervisor at the Peoria store told the eyewitness that workers didn’t take sick and injured animals for free in-store veterinary exams because “they don’t want animals [in a back room] to take care of.” Solitary hamster species were group-housed, leading to fights, and a supervisor advised killing them by “squeez[ing] as hard as you can.” Another worker referred to a stressed hamster as a “[d]umb b**ch” and asked the animal, “What the f**k is wrong with you?” The eyewitness was also instructed not to inform customers that the store was selling fish suffering from ich, a highly contagious disease that would infect other fish in an aquarium.
The investigation also revealed that PetSmart is stocking animals with diseases, such as ringworm and coccidiosis, that are transmissible to humans, including children, and that it didn’t schedule staff to care for, feed, and water animals on Thanksgiving and Christmas, despite having an annual revenue of $7 billion.
“This exposé is the latest example of systemic suffering and neglect at PetSmart stores,” says PETA Senior Vice President of Cruelty Investigations Daphna Nachminovitch. “PETA urges consumers never to buy anything—even supplies—from PetSmart until it stops selling animals.”
PETA—whose motto reads, in part, that “animals are not ours to abuse in any way”—has released seven exposés revealing the abusive conditions endured by animals bred for sale at big-box pet store chains. A 2016 PETA exposé of Holmes Farm in Pennsylvania led facility manager Clinton “Art” Holmes to plead guilty to two counts of cruelty to animals and the U.S. Department of Agriculture to cite the company for at least 117 violations of 14 federal regulations.