Petco has severed its ties to Holmes Chinchilla Ranch and Other Small Animals, Inc. amid a U.S. Department of Agriculture investigation into the conditions at the storage facility where thousands of small animals are housed.
Petco stated on January 19 that the small-animal dealer “did not meet our animal care standards.”
Federal investigators spent several days at the Holmes facility after the animal rights group People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) presented them with video, which they claim shows substandard conditions at the company’s Barto, Pennsylvania, facility.
According to The Associated Press, the video provided by PETA includes scenes of containers with dead guinea pigs, foul water, and loose cats that preyed on small animals housed at the facility. PETA claims animals were housed in overcrowded containers, forcing them to compete for food and water.
Holmes announced that it is cooperating with federal investigators. In a statement, the company said they “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.”
According to online records, the company passed several recent federal inspections. PETA cited evidence of illegal warnings given to the company by the inspector involved in these checks and requested that the USDA exclude the inspector from its ongoing investigation.
PetSmart, another large pet retailer, also receives its small animals from Holmes facilities.
“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,” said Erin Gray, PetSmart spokeswoman.
Petco’s spokeswoman Lisa Start said the company severed its relationship with Holmes after its own investigations, which she stated are “a regular part of our strict vendor oversight protocol.”
Dan Paden, associate director of evidence analysis at PETA, said the employee who obtained the evidence that was handed over to the federal government was working for Holmes when Petco’s representative visited the facility in question on Dec. 2. The PETA employee claims Petco was still packing shipments of small animals at the Holmes facility as recently as her last day working there, which was Jan. 5. USDA officials also began their investigation on this day.