Rabbit Advocacy Animal Matters


January, 2007 ALERT

Information from Judith Pierce of San Diego House Rabbit Society:

"Bad news, PETCO stores across the U.S. are now selling baby rabbits from Marshall Farms. Marshall Farms is a notorious "puppy mill" breeder, which also has bred nearly 100% of the ferrets for sale in pet stores in the U.S. Not only do they breed for pet stores, they also breed for laboratories. They have jumped into the rabbit market, churning out thousands of baby bunnies and - get this - spaying or neutering them at a very young age (well before puberty) in order to sell them at a premium price. They hope to counter the issue about selling rabbits that are not altered, but in doing these surgeries at such a young age they are surely causing long-term problems. And, given the difficulty of a surgery on a bunny so young, I would bet they are easily losing 30% or more in the process.

"San Diego House Rabbit Society has information on the PETCO situation on their web page at http://www.sandiegorabbits.org. This includes a brief description of what's going on (Marshall Farms rabbits being sold at PETCO), and asking people to write letters of complaint, and also cut-up and include their PETCO PALS cards. This situation is being discussed among HRS chapters nationwide. PETCO just showed up with these rabbits in Rhode Island, and they are coming to Southern California as well. I'm sure they are destined for many areas in the U.S.

"Please take a moment to write a letter of protest to PETCO. Protest them selling baby rabbits when our local shelters are overflowing with abandoned rabbits. Protest their supporting the notorious Marshall Farms. And, if you've got a PETCO PALS card, I hope you'll cut it up and include it in your letter. I also ask you to stop purchasing anything from PETCO until they stop selling rabbits. From this point on I will no longer refer any person to PETCO for supplies, nor will San Diego HRS have anything to do with them.

"Once PETCO has pledged to stop selling Marshall Farms rabbits, and has rescued shelter rabbits for adoption in its stores (either through adoption days or in-house), we can once again work with their Foundation. Visit the SDHRS website at www.sandiegorabbits.org to see a sample letter, who to write your letters to, and a copy of a letter to Brian Devine. I hope we can turn this around. Many thanks to the dedicated House Rabbit Society volunteers and to the San Diego House Rabbit Society for being proactive in dealing with this situation. "

Please tell Petco to stop selling rabbits--and all other animals, too! Letters should be addressed to one or all of these individuals:

Brian Devine, Chairman of the Board
Bruce Hall, President & COO
Jim Myers, CEO
Tom Farello, Senior Vice President of Operations

The address for all of them is:

PETCO Animal Supplies, Inc.
9125 Rehco Rd.
San Diego, CA 92121


In December, 2006 PETCO stores began selling rabbits in San Diego County.  The Escondido (Valley Parkway) and Carmel Mountain stores currently have rabbits and the Poway is considering adding rabbits to their inventory.

PETCO sponsors the Union Tribune "Adopt a Pet Save a Life" insert, which features dozens of homeless rabbits.  How can PETCO, in good conscience, begin to sell animals they know are already languishing in local shelters in huge numbers? With more than 500 rabbits coming into local shelters and humane societies each year, what is PETCO thinking? Certainly not their "supposed" mission of "Think Adoption First."

Secondly, it's been reported that these rabbits are coming from the notorious "puppy mill" breeder, Marshall Farms, which has now gotten into the "rabbit mill" business.  Marshall Farms is well known for the thousands of dogs and ferrets it breeds for pet store and laboratory use across the U.S.  This is not something we want in San Diego County!  


Dear (name):  

I was dismayed to learn that you have rabbits for sale in San Diego area PETCO stores. As a House Rabbit Society supporter, I know that there are hundreds of rabbits available for adoption at shelters throughout San Diego County.  

I understood that PETCO was promoting a "Think Adoption First" program and was working with shelters to facilitate adoptions through their in store Adoption Centers.  

With the large numbers of rabbits languishing in local shelters, I am saddened to see that PETCO is now creating more demand from breeders for rabbits. I am hopeful that the corporation will reconsider this giant step backwards and will continue its admirable work with local shelters to promote adoptions of the homeless animals there.  

I realize that the PETCO charities have raised millions of dollars to support animal welfare agencies across the country. Your website states “Pet overpopulation is one of the biggest problems facing companion animals and animal welfare organizations nationwide". Why then would your corporation choose to undermine the efforts of those same animal welfare organizations by offering breeder sourced animals for sale in its stores?

Regretfully, as long as your corporation offers rabbits for sale, I will no longer shop at PETCO. Thank you for your consideration in this matter, http://www.cotse.net/users/dlf/marshall_farms.htm  (For the Love of Bunnies website)

Comment: The response from Petco was the usual PR rhetoric. In part, it stated that ”in stores where no rescue group is able or willing to provide a consistent supply of shelter rabbits, we reserve the right to offer for sale rabbits obtained from other sources to meet the needs of responsible customers.” They believe that their overall approach, combined with “a price point unlikely to lead to impulse decisions,” is a responsible one.

Marshall Farms

Marshall Farms is the main breeder supplying PETCO with animals. PETCO and Marshall Farms both insist that their animals are treated with the utmost care and love, in preparation for happy healthy lives as loving pets. Marshall Farms is also the main breeder supplying animal testing laboratories with their animals. It would seem that there would be a conflict of interest here. Or perhaps it's corporate pragmatism of a most inhumane nature.

Marshall Farms also makes it a practice to spay/neuter baby rabbits at the age of one month, which is far too young for a rabbit to develop properly. The hormones they miss out on due to such young alterations affects their physical development and creates inherent health concerns and an increased likeliness of illness in adults. The reason the rabbits are altered so young? So they'll stay small and cute and baby-like in their appearance, hopefully enhancing their appeal.

Read more: Akron Petland closes after worker drowns rabbits; Robinson Petland, PA, under scrutiny

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