Rabbit Advocacy Animal Matters


The BC SPCA and Petcetera's rabbit program

March 31, 2008 

The BC SPCA and Petcetera continue their controversial business partnership into 2008, which began back in 1997.  While part of the deal was that dogs and cats wouldn't be sold, this didn't apply to a vast assortment of other caged animals.  After much public pressure, it was announced in March 2007, that Petcetera was selling out its remaining stock of rabbits and that they would only adopt out animals from the SPCA.  Through the P.A.W.S. program the SPCA branches were going to supply sterilized rabbits to all Petcetera outlets in BC.  Breeders were put on notice. 

However, not everything is going smoothly, and a year later the six stores outside the Lower Mainland still stock baby bunnies, keeping the breeders in business.  Somehow, Mr. Urbani’s commitment to reducing homelessness and “euthanasia” doesn’t ring true.     

There have been numerous complaints to both the BC SPCA and Petcetera regarding the inadequate care of the rabbits at a number of the stores, and out of sheer frustration, members of the rabbit rescue community have adopted some of them.  The SPCA has pulled all its animals from the Richmond store, and Petcetera acknowledges that the issues, problems, and logistics of the program are under review. 

Meanwhile, two rabbits from the Burnaby SPCA were recently put into the Rupert store for adoption.  Volunteers within the SPCA suggested to management that Martin, a black bunny, was not a suitable choice.  Despite objections, he went.  Over the course of several weeks, a network of rabbit advocates who monitor the stores, noticed that he was becoming overweight and stressed to the point of pulling out his fur. The SPCA was told and after repeated requests, on March 31st, the bunny was removed.  The grey one remains. 


September 2008  The BC SPCA pulls all its rabbits from Petcetera stores.

There have been a number of problems with the program, going back to February 1, 2005 when a pilot project was started at the Rupert store in Vancouver.  We expressed concerns and were there regularly to monitor the rabbits and to bring educational materials.  The information kept disappearing and the SPCA provided no care materials of its own.  Meanwhile, Petcetera was still stocking the store with intact baby rabbits, and selling them at a lower price ($29.98) than the sterilized ones provided by the SPCA for the PAWS centre. ($49.98)  An average of 5-7 babies were being sold weekly in the store, while the altered adult rabbits languished.  Rabbit advocates pulled out at least half a dozen of the twelve that were provided to the store for the entire year!  In the Spring of 2006 meetings between SPCA management and Petcetera's President, Mr Urbani, weren't going well.  Finally, in the Fall of the same year, the program collapsed. 
Due to ongoing pressure from animal welfarists and the public, Petcetera announced that it was ending the sale of rabbits in its Lower Mainland stores by April 2, 2007, and by September 1, 2007 in all BC stores.  They reneged on the agreement, and stores outside the Lower Mainland continue to sell baby bunnies supplied by breeders.  The BC SPCA has pulled all its rabbits from the stores that did have them.  We visited a number of Petcetera locations recently and took some pictures. (September 2008) 


 Nanaimo                                                         Victoria

And in Penticton, just 68 km (42 miles) from Kelowna, where abandoned pet rabbits are being exterminated, the Petcetera store keeps selling them.  Talk about an arrogant and irresponsible corporation.      

Read more: Kelowna rabbits

Comment:  The SPCA and Petcetera’s contract for this pilot project is up at the end of 2008.  Regardless of  all the pitfalls, we cannot let Petcetera bring back baby bunnies.  If you have any information please contact us.  rabbitadbc@shaw.ca

Update: January 8, 2009 The BC SPCA and Petcetera have announced a new pilot project for rabbits.  The SPCA is seeking volunteers for three Lower Mainland Petcetera stores to help in the satellite ‘adoption’ centres.

February, 2009  We regularly monitor all B.C. Petcetera locations, but focus more so on the stores in the Lower Mainland.  We have checked on the participating outlets of the new pilot project and on a number of visits didn't see any rabbits for adoption.  Please let us know if there are any SPCA rabbits at the Rupert and Arbutus stores in Vancouver, or at the Coquitlam store on North Road.

Early March, 2009 The Petcetera store on Lougheed Highway in Coquitlam has closed.  There have been some recent staff changes at head office, and one source has told us that the company is feeling the effects of the downturn in the economy.  

From Craigslist, 2009-03-08

Just wanted to let all you pet owners out there know that Petcetera has changed their return policy. As I found out today, effective immediately, they will not return or exchange ANYTHING. Even if you have a valid receipt stating you have 30 days. We were even shown a letter from head office stating this. Store Managers will confirm this.

March 9, 2009  On today's visit to Petcetera in Park Royal there were flyers throughout the store advertising a "March Madness" sale.  There were also flyers near the cash registers and front door advising that "All sales are final.  No refunds, exchanges or adjustments are allowed."  In speaking with the store manager, I was told that head office has requested employees to tell customers it's merely because of the sale, nothing more.  PetsMart, on the other hand, still offers exchanges and returns up to 60 days of purchase.   In January, Petcetera advertised a "clearance extravaganza," declaring "we're going out for your business." 

Petcetera, on North Road, Coquitlam, was contacted today, as well.  We were informed that one SPCA rabbit was available for adoption, whereas the Arbutus and Rupert stores did not have any rabbits from the SPCA.  Employees were unsure when they would be receiving more.

August, 2009  Reliable sources have said that Dan Urbani is planning on reopening nine British Columbia Petcetera stores and will be selling a wide assortment of birds, fish, reptiles, and mammals, including rabbits!  The "new company” will operate under "new management."  Start contacting your municipal officials so that pet shop bylaws can be enacted to PREVENT THE SELLING OF LIVE ANIMALS, EXOTICS AND ALL!  REFORM IS URGENTLY NEEDED!

Read more: Petcetera files for bankruptcy protection 2009, SPCA owed money; files again in 2014, out of business!