red-eared slider turtles in a cage

New Campaign: Tell Petco to Stop Treating Animals Like Products



We’re expanding our campaign to protect animals suffering in the pet industry to include Petco.

This week, World Animal Protection launched a campaign urging Petco to stop treating animals like products and take the first step by ending the sale of reptiles and amphibians in its stores. Here’s why:

Petco Claims to Support Sustainability While Fueling the Deadly Wildlife Trade

Petco has made significant efforts to brand itself as a sustainable company. It has a dedicated Environmental, Social & Governance (ESG) webpage and a head of sustainability. In May 2021, the company released its first sustainability report. The accompanying press release claimed Petco is “setting the standard in…preserving the health of our planet...” Yet nowhere in the 83-page document does it address wild animal sales or acknowledge how wild animal sales are driving biodiversity loss—pushing some species to the brink of extinction.

Animals Sold in Pet Stores Come from Cruel Mills

In the report, Petco claims that its companion animal suppliers “are regularly inspected and must meet the expectations of our rigorous Petco Vendor Certification and Standards of Excellence Program.” But numerous Petco vendors have been cited for egregious violations of the Animal Welfare Act (AWA), the federal law that sets minimal welfare standards for some animals bred in mills. Further, the AWA doesn’t even protect reptiles, amphibians, or currently birds making it extremely difficult to know what’s happening behind closed doors.

For example, in July 2021, the US Department of Agriculture cited Sun Pet Ltd, a massive animal mill that houses more than 10,000 animals, for inadequate veterinary care, poor sanitation, and lack of accessible water for animals, among other problems. Sun Pet supplies animals to both Petco and PetSmart. The report stated that 22 hamster enclosures had cannibalism occurring in them, and “one enclosure had a hamster that was actively being cannibalized while it [sic] was still alive.”

ferret in a cage

Hypocritical Policies: Promoting Adoption for Some Animals and Selling Others

Petco promotes adoption for some animals while selling others. Petco frequently touts its support of Petco Love, its nonprofit arm, noting on its corporate website that “we have helped find homes for more than 6.5 million animals through in-store adoption events.” Petco’s sustainability report also noted that it “helped save roughly 400,000 animals from euthanasia.”

But the sale of animals means more animals end up in shelters. MSPCA-Angell, a shelter in Boston, reported that one in four people relinquishing animals at their shelter reported purchasing them at a pet store. A survey by the American Veterinary Medical Association similarly reveals that pet stores are by far the largest source of numerous kinds of animals, including birds, reptiles, and fishes.

Petco also sells an even wider array of wild animals than PetSmart, including ferrets, Russian tortoises, and skinks. These sales consign wild animals to a lifetime in a small tank and leave them at high risk of abandonment into unfamiliar ecosystems. Countless animals also tragically die in mills or during transportation before even reaching the cash register.

ferret in a cage

How You Can Help

Now that we’re taking on the two biggest pet retailers in the US, Petco and PetSmart, we need your advocacy more than ever. Please take a few moments to send a message to Petco and PetSmart executives urging them to stop treating animals like products. Stay tuned for more opportunities in the future.

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