Melissa Kaplan's
Herp Care Collection
Last updated January 1, 2014

Petco Correspondence: June 19, 2002

Melissa Kaplan to Ilene Lelchuk (SF Chronicle) and Dennis Herrera (SF City Attorney)


Dear Ms. Lelchuk and Mr. Herrera,

In re your article (S.F. alleges cruelty at 2 Petcos Abysmal conditions led to deaths, suit says. San Francisco Chronicle, June 19, 2002), Ms. Lelchuk, you wrote:

"'What was most disturbing was the fact that the cruelty and pattern of brazen violations of San Francisco health and safety standards continued over three years,' Herrera said."

The disturbing fact is that this is yet another example of a long-term, well established pattern of practice at Petcos across the country.


"...especially because Petco's own regional managers regularly visit their local stores and perform spot inspections."

Most managers, like the employees they hire and "train", wouldn't know proper care - especially of exotics - if it hit them in the face. I know that's a fact because I've hit them several times. Please see the correspondence between Petco corporate officers and myself and others dating back to 1994:


"Customers interviewed Tuesday said they'd witnessed no inhumane conditions, however."

Because most customers don't themselves know the animals' care requirements. They also view pet stores and the store employees as experts and so assume that whatever the store is doing must be right. I spent several hours hauling dead bodies out of a store in Willits with a friend (a deputy sheriff from another county) and the local animal control officer while customers came in and bought supplies.

Mr. Underwood was surprised? This isn't the first time they have been cited: Petco Managers Cited for Animal Abuse: Four Shop Managers Cited for for Animal Cruelty; Dehydrated Pets, Dirty Conditions Found Repeatedly At VA. Store, Authorities Say

I am one of the moderators of The Iguanas Mailing List. Just last week, there was a Petco problem aired. Since someone else posted a link to your article to the list, my guess is that you may be hearing from some of the other list members.

have been active on the Internet since 1993 and have encountered numerous complaints about Petco and PetsMart on the various email lists, newsgroups, and the online communities/forums I help host (AOL Reptiles Community; Veterinary Information Network's Pet Care).

Thank you for your article, Ms. Lelchuk, and for your pressing the suit, Mr. Herrera. Whether your actions, or the boycott, or both, will have any lasting effect remains to be seen. Until the corporate officers, not store managers or regional managers, are made to feel the bite, as it were, it is unlikely that they will deviate from their current practice as, despite all the complaints, their present business model continues to serve them well.

/s/ Melissa Kaplan
Reptile & Environmental Education
Iguanas for Dummies
A Cold-Blooded Business, ASPCA Animal Watch, Spring 2000, pp. 22-29.

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