Open Letter to PetsMart
Melissa Kaplan, June 1997
June 15, 1997
Mark S. Hansen
Dear Mr. Hansen,
While your Vision, Mission, and Values statements are laudable, the fact is that too many of us find PetsMart putting them into practice only when it pertains to mammals and birds - not to reptiles.
Somehow, I have a feeling your board of directors did not have in mind the bond created when a teenage boy ends up spending $300 at the vet, learns how to tube feed his baby iguana, and how give it daily antibiotic, fluid, and calcium injections, in the effort to save it after the iguana gets critically ill after your customer followed your care advice, only to have it die. Killing your customer's pets is not a good way to foster customer loyalty and repeat business. Having such incidents broadcast on the network consumer newscast probably isn't very good for business, either. PetsMart's having to reimburse such customers for their losses, which far exceed what the customer spent at the store to begin with, probably isn't what the directors had in mind, either.
For the communities in which we operate - To be a good corporate citizen and to add overall value to the community.
Those of us doing rescue and education are not seeing the value; in fact, your stores cost us money out of our own pockets as we try to save the sick, wild-caught turtles, and not-much-healthier farmed iguanas people buy from you...
Then why, after repeated complaints at many stores, does PetsMart continue to stock sick, wild-caught reptiles and hand out inaccurate information that results in the sickness and death of the reptiles you sell?
True regard for pets and animals...Genuine care and concern.
This is not seen in the way you buy and sell reptiles. PetsMart has proudly pointed to its "political correctness" in not buying from puppy and kitten mills. Unfortunately, you are buying from similarly cruel and disgustingly filthy iguana farms, as well as buying and selling wild-caught (and usually sick) box turtles. Due to continuing decline in numbers across their range, iguanas, all box turtles, and many aquatic turtles are covered under the provisions of CITES. Why don't you extend the same regard to reptiles as you do towards furred animals?
[PetsMart] is dedicated to the care and well-being of all animals. Rather than selling dogs and cats in its stores, PetsMart donates prime store space to local pet adoption programs.
How about, instead of selling iguanas and turtles, you enabled the local herpetological societies and reptile rescue groups to do adoptions as you do for local dog and cat groups and animal shelters? With thousands of iguanas and turtles being dumped every year by people who should never have bought them to begin with (most of whom were mislead into buying them by the information they were given by pet store employees), with iguanas now being euthanized for lack of proper homes, such group are in as much need of widely publicized adoption programs as are dogs and cats.
If you truly care for the well-being of the animals - ALL the animals - you sell, then you need to make significant changes in the way you buy, care for, and sell reptiles, and the information you provide to your customers before and after they purchase reptiles, reptile equipment and supplies.
In my personal experience, and those related to me by other reptile owners who have bought at PetsMart, or tried to educate PetsMart staff about the problems with the reptiles in the stores and the information given to customers, it is apparent that PetsMart regards reptiles as merely a product, not as "pets" - animals deserving of proper care and treatment. Further, through PetsMart's continued purchasing of wild-caught reptiles and failure to care for these animals properly and to provide accurate information to customers, it appears as though your caring and nurturing not only does not extend to reptiles, but also does not extend to the environment.
Reptile sales now exceed sales of birds and are closing in on tropical fish. With over 15% of U.S. homes having at least one reptile, it is estimated that in the next decade nearly half of U.S. homes will have at least one reptile pet. Due to the poor care and bad, even lethal, information given out by stores such as PetsMart, an increasing number of reptile owners are buying their equipment and supplies through the mail, or going out of their way to stores who do not sell reptiles or who care for them properly, rather than patronize stores who do both badly.
Would it not be better for PetsMart to be part of this community, rather than ostracized by it?
Very truly yours,
People write me asking if I ever received a response from Mr. Hansen or anyone else at PetsMart. I did not.
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