Captured by the thousands from exotic locations, few wild birds survive the long journey to distant pet markets. Primates, rare reptiles, and other species are traded as “pets” to people who don’t understand these animals’ specialized needs. Bears are slaughtered for their gallbladders and paws. Elephants are murdered for their ivory, and young elephants are forcibly torn from their families to be shipped to far-off zoos. Fox, ermine, mink, and other furbearers are ensnared in barbaric traps to provide fur for fashion.
Martin Buber, the great philosopher, translator, and educator, said, “An animal’s eyes have the power to speak a great language.” In California, if we could translate that language, what we would all too often see in the eyes of pet store animals is pain and suffering.
API has received many complaints from people who bought animals at pet stores and then, heartbroken, find that the animals are ill, sometimes even near death. These complaints spurred API to conduct an undercover investigation of 64 pet stores in four key California cities.
What's a better purchase than an adorable new friend from a pet store? Just about anything! In many people's minds, pet shops are fun places, full of adorable animals romping and playing while patiently awaiting their "forever home."
In the U.S., rabbits are classic icons of childhood innocence and mischief. Whether it’s the wise-cracking, carrot-munching Bugs Bunny; the treat-delivering Easter Bunny; sweet Thumper from Bambi; the sleepy young rabbit in Goodnight Moon; or Beatrix Potter’s beloved Peter Rabbit and friends, rabbits have long occupied a cherished place in our collective consciousness.
But while we shower adoration on make-believe bunnies, we too often heap terrible abuses on actual ones. A disturbing number of industries — including apparel, cosmetics, wildlife control, and the pet trade — exploit countless rabbits each and every year.
Not long ago, an animal advocate contacted API for advice. Like many people, the caller was deeply troubled by the mistreatment of animals in circuses, and wanted to take action. She wasn’t exactly sure what she could do, but was considering trying to get her home state to pass a law restricting the use of wild animals in circuses and traveling shows.
It’s official: the holiday hullabaloo has begun! Throughout the autumn months, simply turning on the television or taking a stroll through a local mall means being inundated with celebratory songs, festive decorations, and advertisements promoting that “special something for a special someone.”
The pet shop seemed more like a pawn store, a place where disenchanted caretakers unloaded their birds for quick cash. During my visit, abandoned birds clamored for attention or followed me [Monica Engebretson] curiously with their eyes — except for a pair of Amazon parrots who sat motionless, side-by-side, with the most expressionless eyes I have ever seen in another living creature.