Tag Archives: petco

Petco drops small-animal supplier amid federal probe

Petco, one of the biggest pet retailers in the country, severed its relationship with a Pennsylvania small-animal dealer amid a federal investigation into conditions at the facility where it keeps thousands of hamsters, guinea pigs, rabbits and other species.

Petco said in a statement this week that Holmes Chinchilla Ranch and Other Small Animals Inc. is no longer a supplier after the retailer concluded “they did not meet our animal care standards.”

The U.S. Department of Agriculture spent several days at Holmes this month after an animal-rights group shot video purporting to show substandard conditions at the dealer’s facility in Barto, about 50 miles northwest of Philadelphia.

“You have roughly 20,000 animals in severely crowded bins, competing for food, competing for water,” said Dan Paden, associate director of evidence analysis at People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals.

He said a PETA employee got a job at Holmes and worked there, undercover, for three months, collecting evidence that PETA presented to the USDA. The agriculture department’s investigative unit recently spent five days at Holmes, according to Paden.

Tanya Espinosa, spokeswoman for USDA’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service, confirmed the agency has an open investigation into Holmes but declined further comment.

The video, which PETA shared with The Associated Press, includes scenes of bins with dead guinea pigs; dishes filled with what appears to be fouled water; loose cats that PETA said preyed on hamsters, mice and rats; live rats stuffed in a plastic bag and placed in a freezer; and a “waste-filled cooler” where dozens of small animals of varying species were dumped and gassed, “sometimes ineffectively,” PETA said.

Holmes declined to answer questions about its operations.

The dealer said in a statement that it is cooperating with USDA, “and anticipate that we will satisfactorily resolve any concerns that they have now or arise in the future, as we have since the beginning of their inspections of our facility.”

Holmes passed its last several federal inspections, according to online records that go back three years. PETA, in a letter to the USDA, requested the inspector who gave Holmes a clean bill of health as recently as January 2015 not take part in the current probe, citing evidence the staffer warns facilities ahead of time of impending inspections.

Holmes’ 2015 federal inspection report said the facility housed 16,787 animals — ferrets, gerbils, hamsters, rabbits, chinchillas and guinea pigs.

Holmes also supplies PetSmart, another huge retail chain.

“We have reached out to the USDA to learn about its findings. If we find our standards have not been met by this supplier, we will take swift and appropriate action,” PetSmart spokeswoman Erin Gray said.

Petco spokeswoman Lisa Start said the retailer ended its relationship with the supplier “as a result of our own recent inspections at Holmes Chinchilla Ranch, which are a regular part of our strict vendor oversight protocol.”

Paden, with PETA, said the PETA employee working undercover was there when a Petco representative showed up to inspect the facility on Dec. 2. He said the employee was packing animals destined for Petco as recently as Jan. 5, her last day at Holmes and the day that USDA officials began their probe.

Did slaves peel your frozen shrimp? A guide to the issue and what to do

Enslaved migrant workers and children are ripping the heads, tails, shells and guts off shrimp at processing factories in Thailand, according to an investigation by The Associated Press.

AP journalists followed and filmed trucks loaded with freshly peeled shrimp going from one peeling shed to major Thai exporting companies. Then, using U.S. customs records and Thai industry reports, they tracked it globally. They also traced similar connections from another factory raided six months earlier, and interviewed more than two dozen workers from both sites.

U.S. customs records show the farmed shrimp made its way into the supply chains of major U.S. food stores and retailers such as Wal-Mart, Kroger, Whole Foods, Target, Dollar General and Petco, along with restaurants such as Red Lobster and Olive Garden. AP reporters in all 50 states went shopping and found related brands in more than 150 stores across America.

The businesses that responded condemned the practices that lead to labor abuse, and many said they were launching investigations.

Q: How do I know if my shrimp or other seafood is tainted by labor abuses?

A: That’s a big part of the problem. Most companies do not make their supply chains public. And even if they did, there are many places for abuses to occur that are not documented or take place far from any type of scrutiny. For example, slaves have been forced to work on boats catching trash fish used for feed at shrimp farms, and migrants have been brought across borders illegally and taken straight to shrimp sheds where they are locked inside and forced to peel. Fishing boats are going farther and farther from shore, sometimes not docking for months or years at a time, creating floating prisons.

Q: What shrimp brands and companies did the AP find linked to tainted supply chains in its investigation?

A: Cape Gourmet; Certifresh; Chef’s Net; Chicken of the Sea; Chico; CoCo; Darden (owner of Olive Garden Italian Kitchen, Longhorn Steakhouse, Bahama Breeze Island Grille, Seasons 52 Fresh Grill, The Capital Grille, Eddie V’s Prime Seafood and Yard House); Delicasea; Fancy Feast cat food; Farm Best; Fisherman’s Wharf; Winn-Dixie; Fishmarket; Great American; Great Atlantic; Great Catch; Harbor Banks; KPF; Market Basket; Master Catch; Neptune; Portico; Publix; Red Lobster; Royal Tiger; Royal White; Sea Best; Sea Queen; Stater Bros.; Supreme Choice; Tastee Choice; Wal-Mart; Waterfront Bistro; Wellness canned cat food; Whole Catch; Wholey; Xcellent.

Q: AP reporters visited supermarkets chosen at random in all 50 states. Where did they find shrimp linked to tainted supply chains in its investigation?

A: Acme Markets; Albertsons; Aldi; Bi-Lo; Carrs-Safeway; Cash Wise; Crest Foods; Cub Foods; D’Agostino Supermarket; Dan’s Supermarket; Dollar General; Edwards Food Giant; Family Dollar; Foodland; Fred Meyer; Giant Eagle; Harris-Teeter; H-E-B; Hy-Vee; Jerry’s Foods; Jewel-Osco; Jons International Marketplace; Kroger; Lowes Foods; Mariano’s; Market Basket; Marsh Supermarkets; Martin’s Super Markets; McDade’s Market; Pavilions; Petco; Piggly Wiggly; Price Chopper; Publix; Ralphs; Randall’s Food Market; Redner’s Warehouse Markets; Russ’s Market; Safeway; Save Mart; Schnucks; Shaws; ShopRite; Smart & Final; Sprouts Farmers Market; Stater Bros.; Stop & Shop; Sunshine Foods; Target; Van’s Thriftway; Vons; Wal-Mart; Whole Foods; Winn-Dixie.

Q: Thailand has been in the news a lot lately with problems linked to human trafficking in its seafood industry. Why is this still an issue?

A: Thailand is one of the world’s biggest seafood exporters, and relies heavily on migrant workers from poor neighboring countries such as Myanmar, Cambodia and Laos. These laborers often are misled by brokers in their home countries and illegally brought to Thailand with promises of good-paying jobs. They are then sold onto fishing boats or put into seafood processing plants where they become trapped and forced to work long hours for little or no money. Thailand has repeatedly vowed to crack down on the abuses. It has created new laws and is helping to register undocumented workers, but arrests and prosecutions are still rare.

Q: What are buyers and governments doing to try to stop slave-tainted seafood from reaching their countries?

A: The U.S. State Department has blacklisted Thailand for the past two years for its dismal human rights record, placing it among the world’s worst offenders such as North Korea and Syria. However, it has not issued sanctions. The European Union put out a “yellow card” warning earlier this year that tripled seafood import tariffs, and is expected to decide next month whether to impose an outright ban on products. Companies such as Nestle have vowed to force change after conducting their own audits and finding that their Thai suppliers were abusing and enslaving workers. Others are working with rights groups to monitor their supply chains and ensure laborers are treated fairly and humanely.