Target: Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service Administrator Kevin Shea
Goal: Improve regulations and guidelines to ensure the welfare of retail pet store animals
In light of the outcry against puppy mills that supply many pet stores with unhealthy animals, other animal welfare issues related to pet stores have not gotten quite the same intensive focus. But across the country, hundreds of thousands of animals are subject to neglect and denial of basic needs. Demand that the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service enact stricter regulations and protections for animals sold in stores.
Animals in pet stores are subjected to intense overcrowding, even in large chains such as Petsmart and Petco. Rats, mice, and other small animals are displayed in glass cages completely unsuitable for their mental and physical needs. Typically, there are no toys or any sort of stimulation, and illness is far more likely to spread in such confined and cramped quarters. Overcrowding can also lead to injuries and wounds sustained by animals that cannot run away from fights, and infections because of unsanitary conditions. Such limited space forces these animals to live in very close proximity to their own waste.
Large parrots are often kept alone despite their need for social interaction and mental stimulation. Some birds develop stereotypic behaviors from sheer boredom, and others fall ill and go unnoticed and without treatment, as employees may not always know the signs of sickness. Often, sick or dying animals are removed from the sales floor, but in many cases, as undercover reports have shown, animals are not treated; instead, they are placed in freezers and left to die.
It is quite clear that animals in pet stores nationwide need more protection. Despite revisions to retail pet store regulations, animals are forced to live in cramped, stressful conditions without enough mental stimulation. Cages are typically too small to meet the needs of birds, rodents, fish, and reptiles, and frequently overcrowded. Too often sick animals can go unnoticed, and do not receive the veterinary care they need. Many are even killed or left to die, the cheaper alternative to expensive vet care.
Laws have failed to protect these animals from inhumane conditions and wide-spread suffering. We must demand the United States government address these issues and put an end to neglect.
Dear Administrator Kevin Shea,
Pet stores have often come under fire for selling dogs from animal mills, but as this problem has been addressed, another has been neglected. Namely, the widespread neglect of animals sold in pet stores across the country. Frequently they are kept in overcrowded, cramped conditions that foster disease and infection from injuries. There is little stimulation, and small animals like rats and guinea pigs have almost no room in which to play or exercise. Birds face similar situations, with large social parrots kept alone and without the space they need, and smaller avians in crowded cages.
Though retail pet store regulations have been revised, they are simply not enough. Large-scale retail chains do not provide enough room or adequate stimulation for their animals, and they are left to suffer in a system that places profit over welfare. Though many of these animals are not typical companions, they are just as deserving of protection and welfare as dogs and cats, and something must be done.
[Your Name Here]
Photo Credit: Polarqueen at the English Language Wikipedia via Wikimedia Commons