Rabbit Advocacy Animal Matters


More Bunny Debate & Petcetera

February 24, 2008 by: Carmina Gooch

Petcetera has been contacted on numerous occasions by animal welfare groups and the general public requesting a response as to why intact baby bunnies are still being sold in retail outlets across Canada.  With four more stores slated to open in 2008 it is evident that exploiting lives for profits is the motive, not a commitment to reducing pet overpopulation, as Mr Urbani, President and CEO, would have you think.  

Or is it that some lives are more expendable than others?  Abandoned rabbits are found in municipalities across the country and thousands of others are killed by so-called shelters simply because there's no room to accommodate the multitudes of unwanted.

Mark Takhar, manager of the BC SPCA Vancouver/Burnaby branch, in a recent press release, stated that the society is challenged to find homes for hundreds of abandoned or stray rabbits.  In a three-year period ending September 2007, close to 2,500 rabbits were admitted to branches across the province.  How many of those were transferred to other groups or bought out because they were under threat of "euthanasia" or sitting on Death Row.  How many perfectly healthy rabbits' lives were destroyed by the BC SPCA, not because they were "beyond medical help" nor "highly aggressive" as Mr Daniell, CEO would have one believe?  And how many others, dumped into our municipalities, met their fate by "gunshot euthanasia", a practice which meets with SPCA approval, provided it's done correctly.

The BC SPCA and Petcetera have a business partnership.  An excerpt from the original contract says that both parties agree and do not approve of "indiscriminate or mass breeding of pet animals destined for the marketplace."  Excuse me?   

Mr Urbani knows all too well that baby rabbits are impulse buys destined for disposal, yet company flyers, complete with picture,  continue to advertise their availability.  It's a never-ending cycle, the pockets of breeders being lined and the market over-saturated.  In fact, Petcetera's Plus Warehouse Club caters to breeders, giving them the same benefits of "Plus" members as well as an additional 10% discount on merchandise.    

So much for corporate responsibility, the well-being of rabbits, and this company's "mission to reduce euthanasia of homeless animals." 

Comment:  Calls made to the Kelowna, Nanaimo, and Victoria stores on Feb 19th all elicited the same response; a shipment of baby rabbits and other animals was expected on Friday.  Ask Petcetera to live up to its promise to end rabbit sales in all its BC stores and support our campaigns to have pet store sales stopped Canada-wide.

Also on February 19th, a supporter visited the Calgary location at 1632 14 Avenue NW, and was told by a store employee that their last rabbit had just sold, and a shipment was expected at any time.

Sue Collard writes:

When the BC SPCA and Petcetera announced in March 2007 they would be working on a program to place adoptable rabbits in Petcetera locations, when the SPCA indicated in its March 2007 newsletter that this program would be in place across BC by September 2007, when the March 28, 2007 article in the Vancouver Sun stated that rabbits sales in Petcetera stores would be phased out in Lower Mainland locations ... well, let's just say I was guardedly optimistic that some small, positive moment forward in rabbit welfare would be achieved. 

Fast forwarding to February 2008, past all the abandoned and feral rabbits in Kelowna, Nanaimo, Richmond, Vernon and Victoria what do we find but Petcetera still selling bunnies, maybe not in the Lower Mainland but certainly in Nanaimo and .... well, some of the other places that appear to have feral rabbit populations or dumped rabbit issues. 

Perhaps the SPCA and I were for once sharing a common fantasy when we imagined Petcetera phasing out rabbit sales ACROSS BC. I can see no reason for the SPCA to make a public statement around Petcetera's replacing rabbits for sale with adoptable rabbits across the Province unless they had grounds to do so. Perhaps Nanaimo and those other Petcetera locations have secretly seceded from the province.  

Whatever the reason for Dan Urbani's continued sale of rabbits in Petcetera locations (and why is it, Dan, that with Petcetera's commitment to reducing pet overpopulation issues and much vaunted PAWS Program rabbits never seem to quite make it officially into PAWS?), whatever the reason for the SPCA's apparent silence on this issue, with February being Adopt a Rescued Rabbit month and Easter on the horizon, we are once again asking you to: 


Unless you are willing to make that 10 year commitment to a live bunny, eat chocolate rabbits and don't buy a live animal, get a stuffed toy. Let's face it, the chocolate will last about as long as Petcetera's commitment to rabbit welfare, and the toy will last longer.

Comment: Please support retail outlets that don't sell live animals.

The following letter (with photos) was copied to a number of media outlets and humane societies, as well as to the BC SPCA. 

February 24, 2008 

Subject: Breaking a promise - rabbit sales continue at Petcetera 

Dear Mr. Urbani: 

In March 2007, Petcetera announced that beginning April 2nd, 2007, Petcetera would no longer sell rabbits in its Lower Mainland stores and phase out rabbit sales altogether at its other B.C. store locations by September 1st


Petcetera's vice-president, Richard Kaga, was quoted as saying that Petcetera had been approached by the BC SPCA because of concerns that there were too many rabbits in shelters.   Kaga said that Petcetera would partner with the BC SPCA, and adopt out only sterilized bunnies from the SPCA at the various Petcetera satellite adoption centres.   

Petcetera's decision to discontinue rabbit sales in BC was widely reported in newspapers and was heralded as a very positive move by rescue groups and other humane agencies as a step to help reduce the rabbit population.  At the time, Kaga said the decision to not sell rabbits was not only socially responsible, but good business. 

Mr. Urbani - After your public announcement and commitment to stop selling rabbits in BC, why is it that, after a recent check of several stores in BC, Petcetera is still selling rabbits and expecting new shipments of baby bunnies into its BC stores within the next couple of weeks? 

Specifically, the following information has been obtained: 

  •          Kamloops Petcetera - January 28, 2008

      - conversation with Kim; mini-rex rabbit for sale - $ 34.96
      - cage flyer states sale price effective between Jan 5 - Feb 1, 2008
(see bottom right of flyer)  photo attached 
  •          Kelowna Petcetera - February 19, 2008

      - conversation with Dianna in livestock; currently two rabbits in store, more expected on Friday, Feb. 22nd (for the weekend) 

  •          Nanaimo Petcetera - February 19, 2008

      - conversation with Derek; no rabbits at the moment; animal shipment with rabbits from the supplier expected on Friday, Feb. 22nd.  Not sure how many rabbits will be arriving. 

  •          Victoria Petcetera - February 19, 2008

      - conversation with Jody; rabbits coming this Friday, currently none in store.  Livestock manager puts in order but what comes is sometimes different than what is ordered. 

There have been many recent newspaper stories of communities struggling to deal with out of control rabbit populations, and Petcetera's selling of baby bunnies directly contributes to these situations. Impulse buying of baby rabbits from pet stores because of the cuteness factor at Easter time is a major cause of rabbit dumping at shelters and parks several months later when consumers realize how difficult keeping rabbits can be.  Abandoned rabbits quickly reproduce causing headaches for more and more communities across Canada.

(City of Richmond newspaper article attached)

Given the fact of society's evolving perceptions and concerns regarding animal welfare, efforts and policies should be made which contribute to improving and saving lives of our companion animals.   

Our recent petition is attached at the link below, and we ask Petcetera to immediately discontinue rabbit sales in British Columbia and, also, discontinue sales at all Petcetera stores across Canada.  Your own vice-president is quoted as saying the decision to not sell rabbits was not only socially responsible, but good business.  It's time for you to prove it. http://www.thepetitionsite.com/petition/948517927

We look forward to your positive reply. 

Carmina Gooch, Director
Pets In Need Society
Pacific Animal Foundation
Rabbit Advocacy Group of B.C.


Nanaimo Petcetera - baby bunnies - February 24, 2008


Kamloops Petcetera - baby bunny & guinea pig - January 28, 2008

Victoria Petcetera - baby bunnies - February 24, 2008

Comment: Feb 26/08 Petcetera announced in March 2007 that rabbit sales would stop in all BC stores by September 1, 2007.  So why haven't they?  For quite some time we've heard that this new project with the BC SPCA hasn't been going smoothly.  Information from Petcetera's head office has confirmed that a review is expected within the next few months.  At that time, the issues, problems and logistics of expanding the program to the other BC outlets will be examined. 

Not satisfied with this explanation?  Neither are we.  There's been one excuse after another, rather than doing what's right, and that is to stop rabbit sales.  Please let Petcetera know your thoughts and don't forget to copy us.

Dan Urbani, President & CEO danu@petcetera.ca                                                           Rabbit Advocacy Group of BC 
Vice President Richard Kaga richardk@petcetera.ca                                                             rabbitadbc@shaw.ca

Petcetera's blatant promotion of cute little Easter bunnies

Comment:  March 10/08 While Petcetera's Mr Urbani hasn't directly responded to concerns about the flyer, he has given instructions to Ms Savard at Head Office, to answer on his behalf.  She states that "it is Easter time" and the company is not promoting rabbits, just animal supplies. Really?  Keep writing those letters! 

March 21, 2008  The Rabbit Advocacy Group of BC wrote to a number of humane societies and media outlets earlier this month regarding the now infamous Petcetera flyer.  Read what Petcetera had to say when contacted by the media!

Live Stock = Dead Stock

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