Rabbit Advocacy Animal Matters

 

Discussion and concerns on Petland stores in BC  

There has been a lot of discussion among animal advocates regarding Petland franchise stores in BC.   Some store managers and “buyers” are willing to work with rescue groups in placing their animals into approved homes, an arrangement that seems to be satisfactory  for both parties.   Others disagree with putting any animal in a store for ‘adoption’, saying that adoptive children wouldn’t be placed in a store front. 

While those doing rescue, no matter how well the pre-adoption screening is, they cannot guarantee that the animal will go into a loving and lifetime home.  The same holds true for stores that claim to ‘adopt’, rather than to sell to just anybody.  Certainly, steps can be made to minimize risks, but as human beings are an unreliable and selfish lot, it’s always a gamble.  And judging from the sheer numbers of homeless companion animals, and all those that are killed because there aren’t enough good homes, we’re unfit to be  caregivers. 

We can certainly strive to make change and perhaps, like we’ve been told, the Petland in 100 Mile House, is working to make the ‘adoption’ program successful.  Other stores, like the one in Courtenay, is reported to have brought in pups from Calgary, to have sold unhealthy puppies from a local breeder, and to have what appears to be, low sales and cage standards.  On a recent visit to Petland in Port Coquitlam, there were a number of issues that concerned us, along with the fact that some of the puppies appeared to be too young to be away from their mother.  Rabbit Advocacy’s (RAG BC) letter to Council:  

Date: April 30, 2008 

Subject: Petland concerns

             Unit A, 1097 Nicola Ave 

Dear Mayor Young and Council: 

A visit to Petland in Port Coquitlam on Sunday, April 27, 2008, was nothing short of appalling.  If one is to believe what's on their website, you would be convinced that this is a wonderful company, with animal welfare as their foremost concern.  They stress that they do everything "to match the right pet with the right person", that their breeders adhere to high standards, and that they are avid proponents of spay and neuter. 

However, as Petland stores are independently operated by franchisees, all outlets will differ in how they are run.  Staff at the Port Coquitlam store were young, and although they may act as "trained pet counsellors", several questions directed at one employee indicated that his knowledge on rabbits was negligible.  Policy also states that unless a person is serious about adopting (purchasing) a puppy, the animal is not brought out from behind the enclosed cages set in the wall behind glass fronts.  However, after being pressured by a father with two young girls, a puppy was brought out to be petted. 

Assorted puppies, birds, rodents, and a couple of rabbits were all prominently displayed as you walked into the store.  Petland prides itself on its in-store habitats being interactive, an experience that's supposed to be positive for human and animal.  However, I doubt that open Plexiglas enclosures in which numerous birds, and rodents are 'housed' together, and where kids are able to reach over the top to grab at them is very sensible.  Not only would this be stressful to the animal, there is the danger of these vulnerable critters being hurt.  There is also the possibility of zoonotic diseases being transmitted to humans, and as there are no signs to wash hands, there is an increased risk of contagious infections being spread.  I don't know that the two adults who had birds perched on their arms were aware of this. 

One little boy climbed on the ledge and continually reached in an enclosure, picking up different hamsters, and then dropping them back down.  His mother did nothing, and while staff was around, not once was he approached and spoken with.  I informed an employee, and she said it happens a lot, and even if they are warned, they often keep at it.  I inquired as to the safety to both human and animal, and while she acknowledged my concern, said there were no plans to change the set-up.  I wonder who will be liable if a child falls over and is seriously injured. 

At the back of the store there is a large section with a variety of fish, reptiles, and amphibians, such as frogs and geckos.  In one aquarium there was a dead fish.  Regardless of whether people have adequate knowledge about these species they are often neglected before succumbing to a premature death. 

On the puppy enclosures there are signs making the consumer aware that 12 equal payments can give them their pet of choice. If anybody needs financing to buy an animal you can pretty well guarantee that it will not be a lifetime commitment, and that overburdened rescue groups, humane societies, or shelters will end up bearing the costs of care, training and rehoming.  Other animals, like rabbits, will simply be discarded outdoors after the novelty has worn off. Pets are not disposable commodities and the idea that they can be purchased like a sofa or refrigerator is not in keeping with our changing societal values.  Petland cannot honestly claim, as they do, that their animals will never wind up in a shelter.  Nobody can.  Nor can one believe that breeders who place their 'product' in stores are selling healthy animals, free from hereditary and congenital defects.  There have been a number of recent articles of sick and diseased animals being sold to unsuspecting customers, some of whom are now resorting to legal action in order to address the issue. (attached reference; read more http://www.rabbitadvocacy.com/pet_stores_rabbits.htm

We look forward to hearing from you regarding the issues that have been brought to your attention and of any recommendations or action that may be taken.  Please feel free to contact us should you have any questions or if you require further information.