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Make a difference.... resources for reporting/handling abuse

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Pet Store Abuse, this is a great informative site, and it even has a link to file a complaint against a pet store! Remember that it's not just dogs and cats that may be mistreated in petstores, there are the "pocket pets" (ferrets rats, mice, hamsters, gerbils, rabbits, etc), birds, reptiles, and fish that should have proper care and housing.

If you know of a pet store that abuses or neglects their animals, don't just ignore the problem. It's up to you to make a difference for those animals. There are ten very important things that you can do quickly and without any real hassle:

   1. Do NOT attempt to "rescue" animals. Taking an animal only frees up space for another one and tells the manager that they may need more! Even if they give you the animal for free, you are just making their jobs easier. Instead of bailing pet stores out by buying their sick animals, we should encourage them to carry higher quality animals and provide veterinarian care to animals that need treatment.

  2. Document neglect or abuse with detailed notes BEFORE you bring attention to yourself. If you complain to management before you document your concerns, you may lose your chance (they will likely fix the problem temporarily or even ask you to leave). Things to look for include sanitation, physical health of the animals, and overcrowding. (For a list of guidelines, visit: General Pet Store Guidelines.) Also note the exact time(s) you were in the store.

      If possible, take photos or video of the animals. To avoid breaking the law, stay in public areas and, if filming video, keep your microphone off. Make sure the timestamp feature of your camera is enabled if it has one.

   3. Ask to speak with the store manager. After you've documented the abuse, find the manager. Calmly explain to them what is wrong, giving clear solutions and referring to reliable resources. Listen to any excuses*. If the manager seems unreceptive, contact the store owner.

      *A common "excuse" is that the animals were received in bad condition from the supplier, and therefore it's not the store's fault. If that were true, the pet store should be able to show they have the animals under a veterinarian's care, or that they have made arrangements for the supplier to take the animals back.

   4. Research laws governing pet stores. To protect animals in pet stores, several states have enacted pet store animal welfare laws. These laws also exist on the federal and municiple level. (Visit this page for more information on pet store laws.)  Have copies of all applicable laws on hand when you are filing a complaint.

   5. File a complaint with your local animal control agency. If possible, make an appointment to accompany the investigating officer to the store and point out the individual animals in distress. Call the next day to find out what is being done.

      Some areas (especially more rural parts of the country) may not have a designated Animal Control Department and the power to investigate cruelty cases may have been assigned to the local humane society or the local police. If you are unsure of who to contact, try the checking the government pages of your phonebook, or you can use the ASPCA's Humane Law Enforcement Lookup page to locate the agency in your area.

   6. If the store is part of a chain, complain to corporate headquarters. If the store is a chain (such as Petco or Petsmart), call the 1-800 number for headquarters and talk to an "animal care coordinator". Make sure you write down the names of everyone you talk to. 

   7. Write a complaint letter. It's important that you leave a paper trail in case future cases are brought against the store. In your letter, write down your list of complaints, giving dates and approximate times, and copies of any pictures or video you've taken. Outline any laws that are being broken. For an example, click here.

      Send copies to the store, the corporate offices (if applicable), the store's landlord (if applicable), the local animal control agency - EVEN IF YOU'VE ALREADY CONTACTED THEM VIA PHONE - and:

          * Your state's veterinarian.
            Each state has a State Veterinarian who is hired by the state government to oversee animal health matters within the state. To find your state's, visit:

          * Your county or state health department.
            Animals kept in unclean conditions can create serious public health risks by being more likely to transmit zoonotic diseases and parasites (salmonella, monkeypox, psittacosis).

          * Your city council or county board of commissioners.
            Send them a letter about how the store is an embarrassment to your county. They might then choose to deny a renewal of the store's local business license.

          * If the store sells exotic or wild animals, the USDA.
            If the pet store sells wild or exotic mammals (degus, sugar gliders, prairie dogs, flying squirrels, etc.), complaints concerning ANY mammals in the store should be reported to the USDA Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service office in your state. For contact information, visit or call (301) 734-7833.
            For more information on the USDA's connection with pet stores, click here.

          * If the store sells native species, your state's Department of Natural Resources (or Fish and Wildlife).
            In some states it is illegal for pet stores to sell any native species of reptiles and amphibians. Use to locate the appropriate website.

          * If the store is in a shopping mall, the mall manager.
            Ask the mall management not to renew the store's lease. Send them copies of all complaints.

   8. Ask local experts to verify your claims or assist with the complaint. If you know of any herpetological societies, zoo personnel, or veterinarians, ask them to visit the store and file a complaint as well.

   9. Boycott the store and encourage others to do so as well. When you spend your money in these types of stores, even just buying a box of dog biscuits, you're supporting the poor quality care of the animals. If you have nowhere else to shop for pet supplies, consider buying from one of the many reputable online suppliers.
      When considering a companion animal, always adopt - don't buy! For a list of shelters nationwide, click here.

  10. Notify the local media.
      Some news stations and newspapers will do investigative reports on neglectful pet stores.

Another great Pet Store abuse website with info on laws, fact sheets, and a wealth of other information.  Please take a few moments to look at the site:

Please take some time to look at the following sites.  There is too much information to list so I am just providing links.

 Detailed Discussion of Retail Pet Stores:

Licensing and Registration Under the Animal Welfare Act
Guidelines for Dealers, Exhibitors, Transporters, and Researchers

Animal Care Publications
Animal Welfare Act, Regulations, and Standards
This site has links to Enforcement Reports and Violation reports:

See a dog constantly chained up?  This site offers ways you can speak to the owner in a positive way, and ways you can help both the dog and the owner. Sometimes it is not that an owner is purposely bad, but they might not know any better or have the means to change a situation. There are  How to's on building a trolley and fencing, educating kids, and flyers and handouts you can print out.   Another GREAT site that really needs to be visited to appreciate all the information on it.

Anti-chaining laws, check your local ordinances for the most current laws:


--- Quote from: ~flower~ on July 30, 2007, 09:07:57 AM ---Great Post Max-Rep!! I just disagree with the following and do not feel comfortable letting it stand without a comment:

The guardian or owner debate may be discussed in the thread I started, let's keep this one uncluttered if possible.   :)

--- End quote ---

Flower I think the word Guardian here is being used differently than your discussion thread on Guardian verses Owner. I think the idea is to get the citizens involved in sort of a neighborhood watch over the animals. Whatever the proper term would be, itís a matter of getting it into the City ordinance.   


--- Quote from: Max_Rep on August 07, 2007, 12:58:46 PM ---Flower I think the word Guardian here is being used differently than your discussion thread on Guardian verses Owner. I think the idea is to get the citizens involved in sort of a neighborhood watch over the animals. Whatever the proper term would be, itís a matter of getting it into the City ordinance.   

--- End quote ---

As the laws stand now people are owners, if they become "guardians" then people's rights go out the door. I do not want the term Guardian to be used for all the reasons given in the other thread and want Owner to still be used.


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