Rabbit Advocacy Animal Matters


More rabbit concerns and Petcetera's suppliers

Concerns over rabbits at Petcetera have been plenty, and as Petcetera and the BC SPCA have a business partnership both parties have been contacted numerous times over the years with regard to the sale of unsterilized baby bunnies, taken away from their mothers' at a too young age.  We've asked to be informed as to where the "stock" is coming from to supply the stores around the province, and have never received a reply.  The SPCA has been asked if the breeding facilities have been inspected, but again, silence.  We've asked head office what their organization is doing to address the plight of rabbits, but unfortunately, these companion animals seem to be overlooked.  It's the small groups and caring individuals, like the Rabbit Advocacy Group of BC, who are pushing the agenda forward and making rabbits matter. 

While the spin from large organizations, institutions, and companies makes for great public relations, it's the dedicated individuals behind the scenes who do the real work. 

May 4, 2005: From a BC SPCA press release

(Eileen) Drever says people should be vigilant in ensuring that dogs they are purchasing from a pet store do not originate from a puppy mill and that other animals in the store have not come from unscrupulous breeders.  "Legitimate pet stores will be able to provide full details where their animals come from."  

In reality, they don't, and rabbits and the other little victims seem to be exempt from the same consideration. There's a real hierarchy here. 

We finally received our first bit of information regarding the sourcing of "livestock" (expendable commodities)  from a Petcetera employee who had worked in several stores in the Lower Mainland and on Vancouver Island.  Not only were the rabbits being supplied by the Dragon Trading Corporation, this company has a large backyard breeding operation in the Corporation of Delta where all sort of critters are being constantly churned out to feed the pet industry.  Birds, mice, guinea pigs - you name it, it's a huge enterprise. 

And while Petcetera locations were being stocked on a weekly with baby rabbits, the sterilized adult rabbits supplied by the Vancouver and Burnaby branches for the PAWS pilot project at the Rupert store, languished.  Colbie and Sherry, like others, were there for months, and were finally bought by the rabbit rescue/action network.  Rabbit Advocacy continues to monitor Petcetera stores, documenting and reporting, and fighting to make a difference in their lives.  


Comment: (Sept. 29, 2008)  When is Petcetera going to show some corporate responsibility and stop selling rabbits?  With all the press regarding idiotic and uncaring people dumping their unsterilized bunnies in parks, along the roadside, and wherever else is convenient, it's time to STOP this madness.  The result of human action is why we are seeing widespread colonies of rabbits in communities everywhere.  Where are the politicians and the BC SPCA in this matter?  DO NOT BUY FROM A BREEDER OR PET STORE.  DO NOT SUPPORT THIS RUTHLESS INDUSTRY.  We cannot stress this enough.  It's unconscionable that homeless animals are dying every day while Dragon Trading Corp., Live Small Animals, Mr. Urbani, and all the other players are profiting from those with no voice. 





February 20, 2006

SPCA Rabbits in the PAWS Program 

Hello Bob,

As you may recall, we have had correspondence regarding the BC SPCA's decision to enter rabbits into the Petcetera PAWS Program, the pilot project being that of the store at Grandview and Rupert.  Among the numerous concerns raised and discussed were that staff would receive little or no education as to proper care, diet, housing, etc. to pass on to the consumer and that printed material would not be readily available or provided.

Last week an incident occurred that lasted the span of four days in which an individual involved in the rabbit rescue network attempted to adopt a rabbit called 'Sherry' that had been sent over from the Vancouver SPCA. The description can be found on Petfinder.  While this woman did not end up getting the rabbit, a friend of hers did.  However, no information on care was provided during discussion nor was it included with the completed transaction.  

Today I went to the store and spoke with Samantha, a staff member of Petcetera who was on duty in the PAWS department.  When I asked as to information on rabbits she immediately said they did not have any.  When I pursued the matter she looked into a drawer and we finally came across some material on recommended foods and a few sheets on 'Basic Rabbit Care.'  These pamphlets were ones of several that VRRA, a chapter of the House Rabbit Society provided in March, 2005.  As to the SPCA's brochure there were two copies left, one which I now have. You had assured me (and others) that the SPCA would be providing leaflets and that they would be readily accessible to the public.  Periodic checks, such as today's, show clearly that this is not the case.   

Once again I've got to ask where is the BC SPCA's commitment to improving the lives of companion rabbits.  Surely education plays an integral part in dispelling myths and in raising public awareness. Could not a pre-adoption checklist be part of the adoption process?  'Pet' rabbit abandonment is at crisis proportions with rescue groups and individuals attempting to do what they can for as many rabbits as possible, but the cycle goes on, unabated.   Preventative measures are far more effective and beneficial. Listed in your Society's Strategic Plan for 2006-2008 is the objective to increase "awareness of responsible animal guardianship" and also to provide "innovative programs" that would "increase the rate of successful rehoming of adoptable animals." 

I sincerely hope this extends to rabbits and that you will remedy the above-mentioned matter as well as allocate additional resources to rabbit welfare and advocacy. 

Your response is appreciated. 

Best Regards,

Carmina Gooch
Rabbit Advocacy Group of BC

Comment: Subsequent trips to the store have revealed that as of March 17th the SPCA has not remedied the above mentioned situation by providing educational material on rabbit care.   Update:  Dec./08  The BC SPCA pulled all its rabbits from Petcetera stores several months ago, due to ongoing care issues and lack of training of Petcetera staff.  The Kelowna store said that they hope to have a new arrangement with the SPCA in the next couple of months.  The Kelowna Petcetera is one of the stores outside the Lower Mainland that continued to sell rabbits supplied by breeders, despite Petcetera’s agreement to stop by September 1, 2007.  The entire program, upon commencement in April, 2007, never materialized and expanded as planned.  Both parties blame each other.    

February 22, 2006

Rabbits at Petcetera 

Mr. Urbani, 

I look forward to the day that you no longer sell rabbits but in the meantime I would like to be provided with written information as to which breeders you are using to supply your stores.  Often small to medium breeders supply to wholesalers who in turn sell their stock to stores.  Is this true in your case or are you being supplied by mass breeders in or out of province?  In my many years of rabbit rescue and advocacy I have come across a number of local backyard breeders whose living conditions and overall environment fall far short of optimum standards.  Frequently the young are removed from the mother at too young of an age with some taken away as early as 4 weeks.  On numerous visits to Petcetera retail outlets in the Lower Mainland I have seen some rabbits that appear to be approximately 5- 6 weeks old and I was informed by one staff member that the average age in which rabbits arrive at that particular store is 6- 7 weeks old.  I certainly have seen 'older' rabbits over the last several months and I have noted also that they are being supplied with toys.

However, care sheets for customers are either unavailable (Arbutus did not have any today) or incomplete as to essential and up-to-date information on a rabbits' needs.  In fact, a recently obtained copy is more of a shopping list than anything else.  As far as a commitment in working towards reducing the pet surplus I would expect that the benefits of spay/neuter be included with the purchase. If the public had this material readily available it would most definitely assist in improving the quality of life for the rabbit and would also help reduce the number of these pets being abandoned into our communities.  

Your timely reply as to where you obtain rabbits for the Greater Vancouver area is appreciated. 

From a BC SPCA press release dated May 4, 2005

(Eileen) Drever says people should also be should be vigilant in ensuring that dogs they are purchasing from a pet store do not originate from a puppy mill and that other animals in the store have not come from unscrupulous breeders.  "Legitimate pet stores will be able to provide full details where their animals come from."  

Thank you,
Carmina Gooch

Comment:  We never received a reply, which is typical.  Bottom line is Petcetera is in business to make money.  If the bottom line is affected, with consumers choosing to spend at stores that do not sell live animals, Petcetera will change. 




Employees fired to stop union drive, workers allege

Vancouver, May 8, 2008 – A group of former Petcetera employees filed a complaint with the British Columbia Labour Relations Board today alleging the company terminated almost half of its workforce in an attempt to bust a union drive.

Canadian Petcetera Limited Partnership is a Vancouver big box retailer specializing in pet products. “We did not receive adequate training and lacked proper safety equipment. Our concerns always fell on deaf ears though. We knew that we could make this a better workplace for ourselves, the customers and the animals if we united,” says Loukas Christopoulos.

In April, employees at the Vancouver Petcetera store began discussing the idea of forming a union to deal with a number of workplace concerns. After a majority of workers expressed support for the idea of forming a union they scheduled a meeting with representatives of the Service Employees International Union (SEIU).

Just days before that meeting took place Petcetera terminated almost half of the store’s workforce. A week after the initial terminations, two additional employees were fired after signing union cards and attending a meeting in support of the terminated employees. “I have held respectable positions in my career where I supervised employees, and I was shocked when I was dismissed over the phone; they’re wrong if they think they can stop a legitimate worker’s union drive by firing us,” says retired professor Joel Milgram.

Petcetera has justified the mass termination by claiming the store was not doing well and that the terminated employees were not part of the company’s restructuring plan.

Christopoulos strongly objects to those claims and says not only was the store doing extremely well, but the store’s General Manager stated that the firings were related to the union drive. The case is now pending before the British Columbia Labour Relations Board.

The Service Employees International Union (SEIU) is the largest and fastest growing union in North America, with 100,000 workers in Canada and 1.9 million workers across North America. Media Contact: Amanda Walker 778-227-7454

Comment: Although a job at Petcetera is considered an entry level position, if employees are treated decently they will be more inclined to stay.  From what we’ve been told by ex-staff members, there were all sorts of problems that caused them to move on.   We have also documented atrocious conditions and lack of adequate care for the animals who had the misfortune of being exploited by this ruthless industry.  

Date of Decision: June 6, 2008 

Decision of the Board  

1 The Complainants filed an unfair labour practice complaint against the Employer. A question arose in the course of the hearing about whether Local 2 is constituted as a "trade union" under the Labour Relations Code (the "Code"). 

2 The parties settled their differences on a without prejudice basis, except for the question of Local 2's status. I was asked to decide that question. 

3 I have reviewed Local 2's Constitution and a letter dated January 22, 2008 from the Service Employees International Union (the "International"). The letter from the International shows that it approved Local 2's Constitution and Bylaws. 

4 I conclude on the basis of the foregoing documents that Local 2 has the status of a trade union under the Code. Labour Relations Board “Ken Saunders”, Ken Saunders, Vice-Chair