In late 2011, national attention was focused on Johnson City, New York, after PETCO and its workers abandoned hundreds of caged animals in its store there and dozens drowned in massive flooding caused by Tropical Storm Lee. Community outrage and massive protests followed. Then-Mayor Dennis Hannon called PETCO workers'
actions "absolutely disgusting."
After 16 months of repeated public-records requests, PETA has obtained police records from the incident. PETCO workers' failures to do the right thing are even worse than anyone imagined.
You may recall that PETCO Vice President Marcie Whichard called the flooding "completely unpredictable." But as it turns out, the flooding was the subject of at least 15 National Weather Service watches, warnings, and forecasts beginning 36 hours before PETCO managers and employees abandoned the animals.
In fact, on that fateful day, officials forecast flooding of record severity. Just 30 or so minutes later, PETCO bosses locked up the store and drove away. But no one had evacuated the animals.
Shortly thereafter, a manager discovered an evacuation order for the store and surrounding streets. But the animals remained, trapped and alone, in the store.
A manager called the senior manager to say that she was "concerned that the animals might be under water." The senior manager "did not seem concerned that the animals were in
danger." At least five hours had passed since the store was ordered evacuated. The animals hadn't been moved.
Imagine the terror and suffering that these animals experienced as the water level rose and they drowned, all because this multibillion-dollar company and no less than seven PETCO corporate, senior, and other managers and employees could not be bothered to get them out of harm's way.
PETCO corporate representatives estimated that nearly 100 animals died.
PETCO reopened the location in April 2012, but—likely because of the community outcry following the drowning—it no longer sells animals there. If it can do the right thing in Johnson City, surely it can model stores in other flood-prone zones after the success of its Johnson City
You can help ensure that no animal is ever again abandoned to drown in a PETCO store. Please urge PETCO to stop selling all animals in its stores that are located in flood plains or are prone to flooding, as it did in Johnson City.
For all animals,
Senior Research Associate
Cruelty Investigations Department
People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals