A PetSmart Campaign update - our road to change
Two years after publicly launching our campaign urging PetSmart to stop the sale of wild animals as pets, and supporters in Canada and the United States speaking out, we have taken a critical step in the campaign and are in conversation with the company.
A recap of the campaign so far
Our last update about the PetSmart campaign was in April 2022. Since then, we have been working tirelessly to encourage PetSmart to engage with us and to respond to our ask to end the sale of wild animals in their Canadian stores.
Below are some of the key moments in the campaign so far:
- September 2018: Held our first workshop to train enforcement officers and shelters on the animal welfare and health and safety risks of exotic pets. We invited PetSmart to participate but they didn't come.
- January 2019: Introduced our organization and work to the new president of PetSmart Canada.
- November 2019: Shared our report on the exotic pet trade in Canada.
- June 2020: Shared our ground-breaking report on the ball python trade with PetSmart. The report shows the destructiveness of this global trade.
- January 2021: Sent a letter to PetSmart to inform them of our upcoming public campaign.
- February 2021: Sent letter to show growing support for campaign, including from PetSmart customers.
- May 2021: Sent an open letter to PetSmart signed by vets, scientists and other organizations urging PetSmart to stop selling wild animals.
- October 2021: Handed over a petition with 50,000 signatures urging PetSmart to stand up for wildlife.
- July 2022: Had our first meeting with PetSmart Headquarters in Arizona.
- March 2023: World Animal Protection is named publicly by PetSmart in their CSR report.
Next steps for the campaign
We are very pleased that we can now bring our expertise as well as the voice of animals and our supporters directly to the table with PetSmart.
PetSmart has acknowledged the work we’re doing in their latest Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) report:
“We collaborate with nonprofit organizations working to advance animal welfare, including World Animal Protection in Canada. We value their expertise in animal welfare and biodiversity science and leverage their insights to continuously help us evaluate and evolve our policies in these areas.”
While producing a CSR report is a good first step and signals an interest in addressing important issues like climate change, biodiversity loss and animal welfare, we have several concerns that we also relayed to our contacts at PetSmart, including:
- Language in the report where PetSmart signals that they “are committed to increasing capacity for and implementation of domestic captive breeding for certain species where possible.”
- Vagueness about what animal welfare means and what will be done to truly prioritize the needs of animals.
PetSmart stakeholders, like customers and investors, have made it clear that they are most concerned about how animals are treated in stores, where these animals come from and how this affects the environment. These key concerns should be the top priorities for PetSmart to focus on.
These views are in line with polling results we commissioned in 2020, which found that:
- 92% of Canadian customers are concerned that selling reptiles and amphibians as pets can cause harm to the animals.
- 90% do not believe that reptiles and amphibians should be kept as pets because they suffer in captivity.
- 91% want PetSmart to be transparent with their customers about where their animals come from.
- 90% think that pet stores should improve their animal welfare standards and be transparent with their customers about how difficult it is to keep wild animals as pets.
We go into the discussions constructively, collaboratively and optimistically, but also critically and with high expectations that once companies know better, they will do better for animals.
We will not stop our work until we get a commitment from PetSmart that they will phase out the sale of reptiles and amphibians in their stores.
We know we can count on you in the future if we need to clearly demonstrate to PetSmart that their customers want them to stop participating in the destructive wildlife trade and stop selling wild animals as pets.