We are calling on PetSmart to stop participating in the wildlife trade and to end the sale of reptiles and amphibians. PetSmart is the only large pet store chain that continues to sell these animals. This causes harm to the animals, the environment, and humans alike.
While we appreciate all the incredible work PetSmart has done on dog and cat issues, they continue to ignore the growing problems related to the sales of reptiles and amphibians. They are a prime example of how companies in Canada participate in the cruel wildlife trade.
In their code of ethics and integrity, PetSmart claims to be a responsible, ethical company concerned about animal welfare, but the reptiles and amphibians they sell are wild animals who suffer at every step of the trade. In the past PetSmart made the important decision to not sell dogs and cats and instead work with shelters for adoption of these animals. Shelters are now facing challenges with taking in an increasing number of exotic animals, the very same animals PetSmart continues to sell and the very same shelters that PetSmart Charities tries to help.
PetSmart’s compassion should not stop with dogs and cats but be inclusive for all animals.
The sale of these animals contribute to the wild capturing of animals.
The sale of these animals contribute to cruel captive breeding practices.
Lack of transparency about the history of animals sold at PetSmart, as there is no information readily available about the origin of the animals; if they are wild caught or captive bred and the conditions they endured during prior to their arrival at the store.
Inadequate housing of reptiles and amphibians at PetSmart.
Lack of honest communication to customers about the unsuitability of reptiles and amphibians as pets.
Selling reptiles and amphibians to people who are most at risk of contracting salmonella and other zoonotic diseases (e.g., families with young children).
PetSmart must address these concerns in the interest of their customers and the animals they are selling.
Yes, we have repeatedly reached out to PetSmart over the past two years, asking them for a meeting to discuss our concerns with the exotic pet trade. We have sent them scientific research, several reports, and invited them to participate in educational webinars on the risks of owning exotic pets to learn more from specialized veterinarians and other experts in the field. They have repeatedly ignored us.
Absolutely! Ending the sale of reptiles and amphibians would alleviate immense suffering for thousands of animals. Furthermore, PetSmart is a trusted source for many pet owners and future pet owners so a commitment from them would not only educate their customers, but also the broader public and help prevent impulse purchases.
Captivity limits wild animals’ natural behaviour and places both their mental and physical well-being at risk. Exotic animals often suffer from chronic stress and poor physical health because captive environments cannot provide what they need to be happy and healthy.
At PetSmart, animals are kept in very small enclosures. Whether it’s a crested gecko, a corn snake or Bahaman anole, who are all from different geographical regions and habitats, their enclosures at PetSmart are of similar size, shape and have similar furnishings. The housing is a very poor reflection of the behavioural and physiological needs of the individual animals.
75% of all new or emerging infectious diseases over the past three decades originated from animals, and principally from wildlife. Most, if not all, reptiles and amphibians harbour pathogens that potentially could make people sick (zoonotic diseases). Currently, about 50 different known zoonotic pathogens are associated with reptiles and amphibians.
Public health agencies in Canada and across the world agree that ‘at risk’ demographics should not touch or handle reptiles or surfaces that were touched by reptiles or amphibians. ‘At risk’ groups include children under the age of 5, individuals who are pregnant, the elderly over the age of 65, and any immunocompromised individuals.
Canadians love animals and many of us share our homes with pets. But there is a big difference between a dog, or a cat and a lizard, tortoise, or frog. Cats and dogs are domesticated animals, meaning they have been selectively bred over many generations and thousands of years for specific traits that make them better suited for living alongside humans. Domesticated animals, with the right care and conditions, can live with humans in captivity without suffering.
Wild animals have not co-evolved with humans, which means that these animals cannot thrive in a home setting. Therefore, in captivity, these animals are usually restricted to live in tanks or another type of enclosure and cannot roam in the house or outside. Reptiles and amphibians require an environment and climate that replicates their wild habitats, which is simply not possible to do because an enclosed area can never have all the complex elements of nature. Similarly, the freedom and array of choices an animal has in the wild cannot be provided in a captive setting.
Take Ball pythons as an example: these snakes live in a wide range of habitats. During the day they hide in burrows, and at night they leave their shelter to go hunt or find a mate. They are even known to climb trees. In a home environment, Ball pythons are often kept in undersized enclosures, restricting basic body movements including the ability to stretch out their full body.
PetSmart is not being honest about how reptiles and amphibians usually suffer in captivity. They are ignoring a growing body of scientific evidence that shows that these animals do not make good pets.
There is a growing body of scientific evidence that the reptile and amphibian trade is inherently cruel, contributes to biodiversity loss, and is a public health risk. Here are some reading materials to help you learn more about these topics: