hamster in cage

PetSmart’s Unsafe Working Conditions Are Killing Animals



Working with United for Respect, a labor rights group, PetSmart employees are sharing heartbreaking stories of animal deaths and neglect at PetSmart stores.

“The freezers would get so full of dead animals that my manager used to ask me to take the bodies with me at night after work and dispose of them myself…”

– Lea Romo-Serrano, PetSmart Employee, Tennessee

In an exclusive story from VICE News, PetSmart workers are speaking out about the unsafe working conditions that are resulting in the neglect and deaths of animals at PetSmart stores. United for Respect, a labor rights group, has been organizing with PetSmart workers under their #PetCareOverProfits campaign which highlights how working conditions declined following PetSmart’s acquisition by BC Partners, a private equity firm. Insufficient training, supplies, and equipment and severe understaffing are putting workers and animals in danger.

Workers are sharing how:

  • They requested that sick or distressed animals be taken to the vet but were denied because their manager said it was “wasted money.”
  • “Cutting corners” at a store resulted in multiple hamsters giving birth and then eating their young. The employee described it as “a huge avalanche of deaths.”
  • Insufficient staffing leads to overfull freezers of dead animals.
  • Unsafe conditions during an extended power outage put workers at risk and led to the deaths of reptiles and fish.
  • A manager refused to take an ill guinea pig to the vet. The animal eventually had to be euthanized.

Read more first-hand accounts from PetSmart workers on United for Respect’s website.

World Animal Protection is working with United for Respect to amplify PetSmart workers’ stories and urge BC Partners to do better for workers and animals. We’re asking BC Partners to meet with the PetSmart Workers Committee to discuss their urgent concerns about the working conditions that are harmful to both workers and animals in their care, and to take the first step in recognizing animals aren’t products by phasing out the sale of reptiles and amphibians.

PetSmart treats animals as commodities, things to be inventoried and purchased, not much different than a chew toy or bag of treats. But birds, lizards, snakes, and hamsters are living beings who deserve to be treated with respect.

Please join us by sending a message to BC Partners asking them to do better for workers and animals.

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