By Lindsay Pollard-Post
Most animals sold in pet stores are raised in anything but loving, safe, healthful conditions. Pet stores are notorious for obtaining the dogs they sell from puppy mills— hellish mass-breeding factories that neglect mother dogs and their puppies and confine them to tiny, filthy cages 24/7.
This treatment causes some dogs such mental distress that they spin incessantly in circles. Kittens sold in pet stores often come from similar mills.
But many people don’t realize that small animals sold in stores—such as hamsters, gerbils, guinea pigs and rabbits—are also bred in and distributed from hideously cruel factories.
At Sun Pet, a massive Atlanta-based breeding warehouse that supplies animals to PetSmart and Petco, a PETA exposé revealed hundreds of birds, rabbits, guinea pigs, gerbils, mice and rats crammed inside extremely crowded containers. The animals were forced to eat, sleep, urinate and defecate all in the same small space. One worker tried to kill hamsters by putting them into a plastic bag and bashing it against a table. Minutes later, one of the hamsters was still alive—suffering and panting heavily.
At U.S. Global Exotics—a now-shuttered massive wholesale facility in Texas that sold animals to suppliers of Petco, PetSmart and Petland—PETA’s eyewitness saw thousands of hamsters crammed into litter pans, causing them to fight and even cannibalize each other. Faulty watering-system nozzles often flooded the enclosures, leaving hamsters and gerbils to struggle for hours to keep their heads above water or drown. Live animals were routinely frozen to death—including a chinchilla who was bleeding from a prolapsed rectum and a squirrel whose neck had been so badly wounded that the muscles were exposed.
At Triple F Farms, Inc., a Pennsylvania-based ferret-breeding factory that sells animals to Petland and other stores, PETA found ferrets suffering and dying from bloody rectal prolapses, gaping wounds, herniated organs, ruptured and bleeding eyes and other conditions. Hundreds of newborn and young ferrets fell through the wire cage bottoms onto waste-covered concrete floors, but Triple F workers were not permitted to pick them up. Instead, the tiny animals were left to die of dehydration or starvation—or to be stepped on, run over by carts or buried in feces.
Animals who manage to survive these awful conditions often suffer and die prematurely anyway because they’re purchased by or given as “gifts” to people who aren’t prepared to provide proper care, including the right habitat and nutrition, grooming, exercise and veterinary care. Add to that the difficulty of introducing a new animal to the family during the holidays—when schedules are jam-packed and budgets are stretched thin—and new animals often end up being neglected, sometimes fatally.
And then there are the animals sitting in shelter cages throughout the country, waiting for a loving family to take them home. When people buy animals from pet stores or breeders, they pass over the deserving animals in shelters, who lose their chance at a loving home, and many end up euthanized.
If you are certain that you or your friend or a family member has the time, money, ability and desire to care for an animal companion for life visit an animal shelter and pay the adoption fee.