Rabbit Advocacy Animal Matters


BC SPCA and Petcetera form relationship in 1997

Nov 4, 1997 by Nicholas Read, Vancouver Sun

Firm will see exotic animals, which cannot be cared for in captivity, perpetuating inhumane attitudes, practices.

This Friday a new kind of pet-supply store will open in Vancouver. Modelled in part on PETsMART, a giant U.S. chain, Petcetera will have SPCA dogs and cats for adoption among its stacks of dog and cat food.

It will have a special shelter for 10 rescued animals, who will be adopted out exactly as they are at the SPCA. Even the adoption fees will be the same, going partly toward spaying or neutering the animal and partly to SPCA coffers.

PETsMART has been doing the same thing in its U.S. and Canadian stores for years, but Petcetera, at the corner of Grandview and Rupert, is the first store of its kind to do it in Vancouver.

However, Petcetera will be selling other kinds of animals for profit, just like PETsMART. Opposite the makeshift shelter there will be an appalling array of birds, fish, rodents and even reptiles for sale; company vice-president Dan Urbani calls it the "livestock section." It's living proof of the Orwellian maxim that some animals are more equal than others.

Urbani defends the practice saying that "customers demand it." He also says that none of the animals sold will be wild-caught. Instead, they all will come from "reputable" Lower Mainland breeders. Fair enough, but from an ethical point of view, it's still indefensible. Selling living creatures for profit and amusement is wrong - especially exotic animals like reptiles which can't be looked after properly in captivity.

From a business point of view, it's understandable. Petcetera wants to make money; if it can make it selling birds and reptiles for profit it will. At least it's seen the light where dogs and cats are concerned.

But what about the SPCA? Is it right that an organization dedicated to preventing cruelty to animals will benefit from an association with a company whose business practices perpetuate inhumane attitudes and practices?

The SPCA deals with all kinds of rescued animals, including birds and rodents. Until now, reptiles went to the Rainforest Reptile Refuge in Surrey, but it can no longer accept more snakes, lizards or turtles because it's overrun with them.

At SPCA shelters, rabbits, ferrets and guinea pigs are put up for adoption every day. Yet here is the SPCA giving its tacit approval to disseminating even more of these animals through its association with Petcetera.

Petcetera says that once its other Lower Mainland stores have opened - in about 30 months - it hopes to contribute $1 million to the SPCA. That's quite a carrot. The SPCA needs money to operate and Petcetera needs the SPCA to legitimize its cat-and-dog adoption schemes. But it still means the SPCA is compromising what should be inviolate principles. Cruelty is cruelty, no matter what kind of animal is involved.

SPCA Greater Vancouver regional director Doug Hooper says he is satisfied that Petcetera is well-intentioned and that animals sold for profit will suffer no harm in breeding or transport. He also believes their sale will for an insignificant part of Petcetera's business.

Perhaps, but exotic animals bred domestically are still exotic animals, unfit for domestic sale. And while it's understandable that the SPCA would wish to champion what's right about Petcetera's policies - and reap a $1-million reward in the bargain - that doesn't excuse it overlooking what's wrong.

Vancouver Sun, Nov 18/97
By Nicholas Read

Petcetera stocks wild-caught animals; it said it wouldn't. Shame on the SPCA for its affiliation with this firm.

In theory it's a good idea. Petcetera, a new Vancouver pet-supply store, has rescued SPCA dogs and cats for adoption. The procedure and rates are the same as they are at the SPCA with the money going toward the SPCA and spaying or neutering the animal.

Bur there's a problem. Petcetera also sells exotic animals for profit, animals that shouldn't be kept in captivity because they can't be looked after properly.

The Greater Vancouver SPCA, while not endorsing the practice, says it has no problem with it. It has been assured, says Doug Hooper, that the animal breeders are reputable and no animals will come to harm.

Petcetera told Hooper that all its animals are bred humanely in the Lower Mainland and its staff are knowledgeable enough in exotic-animal care to ensure that none goes to an inappropriate home.

Yet, when I visited the store last week, sales assistant Anthony Snell told a customer that the store's fat-tail geckos, red head agamas, a kind of lizard, and bull snakes, were caught in the wild, a process which can result in 100 animals dying for every one that survives.

Snell said that availability of captive-bred animals, depends on suppliers. If they don't have what the store wants, they have to go to the wild.

Another sales assistant told me she had no idea how to look after a black-tailed prairie dog, a hedgehog or a sugar glider, a type of flying squirrel; the three were bred somewhere in the U.S. She didn't know where or under what circumstances. She also said the animals were unfamiliar to the staff.

None of these animals should be for sale, says Rob Laidlaw, executive director of Zoocheck Canada, an organization that deals exclusively with the welfare of exotic animals in captivity. People don't know how to look after them.

That includes the Greater Vancouver SPCA. When I met Hooper and some of his staff, they didn't even know what some of the animals on Petcetera's sales list were, let alone how to look after them. Yet they continued to say there was no problem because the public hadn't complained. That's because the public doesn't know enough to complain. It's up to the SPCA to tell them.

A hundred years ago it was acceptable to beat a dog in pubic and work a horse to death on the street. Now it isn't.

But public opinion didn't change on its own; it had to be led by organizations like the SPCA. In the case of exotic animals, a trade that kills tens of thousands of animals each year, the Greater Vancouver SPCA has abrogated that responsibility. It isn't shaping public opinion; it's using it to defend something indefensible.

Petcetera promises to establish an animal-welfare fund that could be worth $1-million in a few years. Vice-president Dan Urbani says he hopes the SPCA will benefit from it.

Hooper promises there is no question of the SPCA compromising its integrity for money. It is compromising its integrity, however. It's turning a blind eye to a brutal animal-trade and by doing so, is encouraging the public to do the same.

It makes you wonder what SPCA stands for, the Society for the Perpetuation of Community Apathy?

 Comment: The original Petcetera/BC SPCA contract was signed by BC SPCA CEO Douglas Brimacombe and Petcetera owner Dan Urbani, March 1999.



The BC SPCA and Petcetera agree that in ninety (90) days from the date of this contract, Petcetera will not offer the sale of exotic animals for pets in any of its British Columbia locations. An exotic animal shall be defined as: any animal, native or non-native, that has not been subject to domestication, through many generations of selective and controlled breeding, allowing it to adapt to an existence in close association with humans.

Petcetera will not sell exotic animals since the BC SPCA does not approve of this practice. Exotic animals are those that are not indigenous to Canada. Non-domestic or wild caught animals are included in this group. Fish, lovebirds, finches, canaries, budgies, hamsters, cockatiels, rabbits mice, gerbils, guinea pigs and rats are not included as exotics.

Wild Animal shall be defined, as any vertebrate that lives in the wild or in a natural state in Canada, not subjected to domestication through selective or controlled breeding.

The BC SPCA and Petcetera agree and do not approve of:

1. selling non-domestic or wild caught animals as pets
2. indiscriminate or mass breeding of pets animals destined for the marketplace
3. offering an animal as a prize or gift.
4. any other transaction where commercially driven motives override the well being of the animal.

Petcetera agrees not to sell "unfriendly" animal products such as; glue boards traps, leg hold traps and electronic anti-bark collars.

No animals will be offered as prized or gifts, nor will they be involved as part of equipment sales. For example, "buy a cage and we will include a canary."

Petcetera will not sell dogs or cats.

Petcetera agrees to follow the Recommended Code of Practice for Pet Stores (BC SPCA)

Petcetera will not advertise unaltered animals on the in store public communication board.

Petcetera will respect and adhere to the BC SPCA Animal Welfare Policies.

Petcetera agrees that the BC SPCA reserves the right to inspect and if necessary investigate all complaints of alleged animal cruelty in the British Columbia Adoption Centre locations.

The adoption process, procedures, forms and contracts will be handled in the same manner as any adoption performed at the participating BC SPCA Branch. All procedures for adoptions shall be the same as the participating BC SPCA Branch and shall be viewed simply as an extension of normal Branch operation. The method of the adoption process will remain under the control of the participating Branch. All the forms and contracts required to perform an adoption will be provided by the participating Branch.

Title to and ownership of animals sheltered at P.A.W.S. Adoption Centre remain, until adoption in accordance with the plan, with the B.C.S.P.C.A."


The final responsibility of assessment lies with the participating BC SPCA Branch. It is, however, the right and responsibility of on-site Petcetera personnel to assess the quality of the applicant, the suitability of the animal for that applicant (and vice versa), and provide all of the necessary information to the applicant to enable them to make the appropriate decision. In the event of any uncertainty or unease, the individual is encouraged to confer with their support staff and if necessary, request additional scrutiny before the placement is made. Such additional scrutiny can include, but is not limited to: deferring the decision to other qualified Branch staff, conducting additional interviews, request and observe subsequent interaction between the applicant and the animal, require more written documentation or evaluation of the applicant. Refusal of adoption to an individual is left solely to the discretion of the Petcetera Associate operating PAWS Adoption Centre, provided such is done in line with the participating BC SPCA Branch policy.

The participating BC SPCA Branch reserves the right to refuse an inappropriate placement.

The return/refund policy for animals will be as in effect at the participating BC SPCA Branch and adopters must be advised to take the animal directly to the participating Branch Shelter.

Process and Procedure:

Before the outlining of specific process and procedural steps, it is important to note that in all prospective adoptions, it is better for the animals and all other parties involved to err on the side of caution. The following processes are recommended guidelines and should be adhered to, but discretion along with personal and professional judgment should be exercised at all times.

Step #1: Preliminary Screening Questionnaire (oral), with a minimum score necessary to proceed.
Step #2: Adoption Application Form completed in full and reviewed.
Step #3: Adoption Interview completed successfully.
Step #4: Adoption Contract completed and approved.
Step #5: Adoption Process complete.
Step #6: Adoption Follow-up contact is initiated, then the Follow-Up Questionnaire completed.

NOTE: the participating BC SPCA Branch will provide the above forms."

"All personnel that are assigned to the Adoption Centres will have to undergo training provided by the participating Branch, consisting of at least one full work day (minimum eight hours) at the Branch shelter. This training will focus on the adoption process and on the care and supervision of sheltered animals. All personnel will also have to be trained by Petcetera on store operations, policies, procedures, and standards."

Comment: 01/05/09 The business relationship between the BC SPCA and Petcetera is problematic at best.  If the SPCA's core mission is to protect and improve the welfare of all animals, how can it hope to achieve this by partnering with a business whose mission is to profit from their exploitation?  And how can a board of directors approve of this association, knowing full well the routine mistreatment of the animals raised to support the pet industry?  

Has the SPCA ever checked the breeding facilities of the rabbits sold by Petcetera?  I've asked more than once, but nobody answers.  I do know that rabbits supplied by the SPCA for Petcetera's 'adoption' program have been removed from Lower Mainland stores because of concerns over 'care' by Petcetera staff.  

The public is watching and is demanding that the SPCA be more open and accountable in its actions, rather than merely paying lip service to its mandate to work on behalf of all animals.

In 2007 the BC SPCA still maintains a business partnership with Petcetera

Posted By: Carmina Gooch
Date: Sunday, 21 January 2007, at 6:45 p.m.

In Response To: Victory for Animals! Wyevale takes ethical step to stop the sale of animals (Carmina Gooch)

The RSPCA announced that they were "opposed to the sale of animals in pet shops" back in 1999, yet in 2007 the BC SPCA still maintains a business partnership with Petcetera, "Canada's leading pet superstore," a retailer that persists in selling a variety of live "product."


Victory for Animals! Wyevale takes ethical step to stop the sale of animals

Posted By: Carmina Gooch
Date: Sunday, 21 January 2007, at 6:38 p.m.

Animal Aid Press release: 22.09.06

Victory for Animals! Wyevale takes ethical step to stop the sale of animals

Following a 16-month campaign by Britain's largest animal rights group Animal Aid, Wyevale Garden Centres has announced a new policy decision to stop selling live animals in its stores. Animal Aid is absolutely delighted by this announcement, which marks the second major success in its campaign to afford better protection for domestic animals. A three-year campaign against DIY chain Focus also culminated in the company ceasing to sell live animals in 2005.

This latest victory marks an important step forward for the cause of animal welfare. Wyevale, as well as being the country's leading chain of garden centres, is the second biggest retailer of pets in the country, with animals being sold in approximately half of its 115 stores. Garden centres are totally unsuitable environments in which to sell animals. They encourage impulse buying by customers who will have gone to purchase plants, not pets. Animals bought on a whim often find themselves neglected and/or abandoned at already hard-pressed rescue centres once the novelty has worn off. Furthermore, based on its detailed research, Animal Aid has found that staff in such establishments are frequently unable to provide even the most basic advice on husbandry and may be ignorant of the often-complex physical and emotional requirements of the animals being sold. This is especially the case with exotic birds, available in some Wyevale centres.

Says Andrew Tyler, Animal Aid Director:

"We are absolutely delighted with Wyevale's announcement and commend them for it. We suspect that Sir Tom Hunter, a major new investor in Wyevale, played a central role in this change of direction. We recently wrote to Sir Tom setting out our concerns. His commitment to ethical conduct is evident from the work his charitable foundation does for some of the most disadvantaged people around the world. We would urge Wyevale to phase out animal sales as soon as possible and have offered to help re-home some of the animals in suitable, pre-checked homes."

So far, there is no announcement to phase out the sale of ornamental fish, by concessionaries operating within the company's stores. Animal Aid will be pressing Wyevale to stop these sales too. After all, fish are animals and are deserving of the same level of care and consideration.

Notes for Editors:

Animal Aid launched its campaign against Focus after undercover investigations revealed telling evidence relating to the company's animal suppliers and its staff's lack of welfare training. Hundreds of demos were staged at stores around the country, as well as a sit-in demonstration at the Focus headquarters, resulting in major national and regional media coverage.

For more information contact Kelly Slade on 01732 364546 ext 227 or email Kelly@animalaid.co.uk. Animal Aid has an ISDN line for broadcast quality interviews

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