Sale of Sick Unweaned Bird Prompts a Call for Legislation to Change Arizona Pet Shop Laws
Tucson, AZ — When Patricia Glover refused to sign a disclosure statement absolving PETsMART of any acceptance of guilt or liability for the sale of a sick and injured parrot sold to her in their Tucson store, PETsMART took back its financial compensation offer.
Last August, Patricia Glover purchased a small parrot, an unweaned sun conure named “Romeo,” from a PETsMART store in Tucson, Arizona. Patricia willingly paid the above average price for Romeo ($550.00) based on assurances from the stores manager that the higher cost was the result of PETsMART’s special “hand-feeding” and “guaranteed veterinary” programs. When Patricia inquired as to why Romeo kept falling off his perch, she was told Romeo was just a baby and simply had not learned to perch yet.
A veterinarian examination later revealed that Romeo was a very sick bird with ailments including bacterial enteritis, an upper respiratory infection and giardiasis. Romeo’s wings had also been over-trimmed, resulting in considerable feather damage. Nearly a year old now, Romeo has yet to recover his ability to fly. Patricia spent over $250 in veterinary bills and countless hours nursing Romeo back to health.
According to Patricia, when contacted about the condition of the bird the store manager who sold her Romeo admitted that “we obviously sold you a sick bird” and offered her a $576.00 (check) and a $100.00 gift card (for all of her “troubles”). However, as a condition to receiving the monies she was asked to sign a settlement agreement discharging PETsMART of all claims and disputes arising out of the sale of the sick and injured bird, Romeo. In addition, the agreement contained a confidentiality agreement prohibiting any disclosure of the incident Patricia refused to sign and, as such, she has received no refund or financial assistance to help cover her veterinary costs.
The Animal Protection Institute (API) is not surprised by Patricia’s ordeal. API has repeatedly asked PETsMART to discontinue its sale of live birds and other animals out of concern for the welfare of the animals. “This incident highlights why birds, especially unweaned birds, should not be offered for sale at PETsMART,” says Monica Engebretson, API Senior Program Coordinator.
API is calling on Arizona legislators to introduce legislation to prevent cases like Romeo’s. In an effort to protect parrots in the retail pet industry, API introduced California Assembly Bill 202, requiring that parrots are able to eat on their own (“weaned”) before release from a pet shop and that pet shops must have one to two employees trained in the care and feeding of young birds. The bill went into effect on September 1, 2004, making California the first state in the nation to regulate the sale of unweaned birds.
API has draft model unweaned bird and pet shop legislation available to interested legislators and offers assistance in passing such legislation.
“Restrictions on the sale of unweaned birds will protect young parrots and will shield consumers from the emotional and financial costs of caring for a pet who has been sold at too young an age,” says Ms. Engebretson. “Birds are living feeling beings that should not be treated like mere merchandise,” she adds.
The Animal Protection Institute is a national nonprofit 501(c)(3) organization established in 1968. API works to protect animals from cruelty and exploitation through legislation, litigation, advocacy and public education. For more information about API please visit www.MoreBeautifulWild.com.
(PETsMART’s Settlement Agreement and General Release form is available from API upon request.)