bearded dragon under a sun lamp in a cage

Advocates Pressure PetSmart to Protect Wild Animals



On October 21, National Reptile Awareness Day, advocates across the US are delivering campaign packets to PetSmart stores urging the corporation to stop selling wild animals.

Animal advocates and PetSmart customers are telling the biggest pet retailer in North America to stop exploiting animals in honor of National Reptile Awareness Day. Despite promoting adoption through PetSmart Charities, the company still sells animals in its stores. Wild animals like bearded dragons, corn snakes, and African sideneck turtles are sold alongside chew toys and leashes.

These sales fuel the deadly wildlife trade, exacerbate the cruel breeding mill industry, and push more animals into shelters. Wild animals also can’t thrive in captivity, and when they’re sold as “pets” they’re destined for a lifetime of suffering in a cage or tank.

There are also serious welfare concerns for the animals sold in the stores. Workers organizing with United for Respect, a labor rights group, spoke out in an explosive VICE article in February documenting how unsafe working conditions are resulting in the neglect and deaths of animals at PetSmart stores.

We’re urging PetSmart to stop selling animals, starting by phasing out the sale of reptiles and amphibians.

Sending a People-Powered Message to PetSmart

Starting in September, we asked people to sign up to receive campaign packets in the mail to deliver to their local PetSmart store(s). The packets break down the problems with animal sales and urge the employee to pass along the information to upper management.

After delivering a packet, participants were asked to take a photo with our campaign messaging either in front of a PetSmart store or with a companion animal to share on social media or send to us. We’re asking people to use the hashtag #AnythingForPets because that’s the hashtag PetSmart uses to promote its brand. While wild animals are definitely not “pets,” it’s one more way to make sure PetSmart feels the heat.

A selfie of liz cabrera holtz in front of a PetSmart store with her sign
a photo of a dog with a PetSmart sign

There’s Still Time to Help

You can still sign up to receive a campaign packet in the mail or send an email to to request a PDF you can print at home.

Also consider making your own photo sign that says, “Tell PetSmart to Stop Selling Animals” and posting it on social media (don’t forget the hashtag #AnythingForPets!).

Finally, if digital advocacy is more your style, consider taking these actions. While National Reptile Awareness Day is a single day, we want to keep the pressure on PetSmart year-round.

Thank you to everyone who is participating today and stay tuned for more actions!

More about