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For Immediate Release: 11/09/05

Widespread Animal Suffering Exposed in Retail Pet Stores

First-of-its-kind undercover investigation finds shocking animal cruelty, spurs national call for laws regulating retail pet industry

Sacramento, CA — The Animal Protection Institute (API) today announced a groundbreaking undercover investigation into the live pet trade. API’s investigator visited 64 randomly selected pet shops in California, including Los Angeles, Sacramento, San Diego and San Francisco, and found widespread violations of laws designed to protect animals sold in pet shops. The investigation also documented extensive instances of substandard care and conditions that did not violate state law but exposed animals to injury and zoonotic disease.

California’s laws regulating the pet shop industry are among the toughest in the United States, yet this investigation proved that even these do not meet the basic physical and psychological needs of animals. Key findings of the investigation include:

  • 66% of stores failing to provide at least one form of environmental enrichment to one or more of the animals in their care
  • 44% of stores having at least one animal who was sick, injured or showed signs of neglect
  • 39% of stores failing to provide sufficient water and/or nutritionally adequate food

“We were shocked by what we found in this investigation: illness, injury, neglect and horribly substandard care,” says Michelle Thew, API’s Chief Executive Officer. “What is more shocking is that these conditions exist in stores that are open to the public at a time when consumer complaints about pet shops are already off the charts. If the industry thinks this is acceptable to show the public, one wonders what goes on behind the scenes.”

“Unfortunately API’s footage shows how common unsanitary conditions and animal care problems are in retail pet stores,” says Chris Sanders, DVM. “Ultimately, we need changes in the law that allow for proper enforcement of the laws that protect these animals, and if pet shops are repeatedly violating the law, they need to be prohibited from selling live animals.”

According to the American Pet Products Manufacturers Association, sales of live animals in the pet industry totaled $1.6 billion in 2004.

“The evidence our investigation reveals clearly demonstrates that laws must be improved and consumers must act to end the suffering of animals in pet stores. If the state with the toughest retail pet industry regulations has a problem this severe, how does the rest of the U.S. measure up?” says Thew. “The retail pet trade is a billion-dollar industry in the U.S. The sad fact, as our investigation shows, is it’s the animals who pay the price.”

API, a national nonprofit animal advocacy organization, works to end animal cruelty and exploitation through legislation, litigation, and public education. For more information, visit www.api4animals.org.


DVD b-roll and still photos are available for media use. To request a press kit email Zibby Wilder at press@api4animals.org or phone 916-447-3085 205.

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