Behind the Scenes in the Pet Trade

Posted by 7 years ago | Permalink | Comments (4)

Because most people love their animal companions and want to do their best for them, it’s easy to forget that animal companions, too, can be the victims of routine, profit-driven cruelty.

Buying animals can have terrible consequences for cats and dogs in animal shelters, but that’s not the only problem. There is a lot of money to be made from the “pet” trade, and that means that animals are going to suffer, just as they do in factory farming and other industries that consider animals to be sources of profit first and living, feeling beings last.

Last year, a PETA US investigator spent seven months undercover at US Global Exotics, Inc. (USGE), a massive international animal wholesale facility in Texas. We’ve already reported on some of what they found, including the fact that USGE supplied businesses right here in the UK. Because of legal proceedings in the US, PETA US couldn’t reveal the whole story until now – PETA US has posted a full report on the investigation online, and it’s pretty distressing.

At the time of the investigation, USGE was one of the largest US sellers of animals to distributors and pet stores around the world. The company certainly worked on economies of scale: USGE confined tens of thousands of animals to its facility and employed a staff of just three or four people to “care” for them. The PETA US investigation revealed that hamsters, gerbils, hedgehogs, chinchillas, ferrets, snakes, lizards, turtles, tortoises, frogs, wallabies, sloths, anteaters, kinkajous and other animals suffered terribly as a result of continuous, cruel confinement to severely crowded and filthy enclosures. Over and over again, animals at USGE were denied the most basic necessities, including food, water, adequate air and space, humidity, heat, veterinary care, and even a painless end to their misery.

[iframe 502px 382px] PETA US’ video of the seizure, care and rehoming of the more than 26,000 USGE animals

Why? In many cases, simply because it was easier and cheaper to let some animals die than to look after all of them properly. When an outbreak of vesicular disease started killing snakes daily, USGE Vice President Vanessa Shaw said that a veterinarian’s recommended treatment for the animals was “f***ing ludicrous” because of the time and medicine that the treatment would have required, which was minimal. Vanessa and her husband, Jasen Shaw, owned USGE, and they routinely ordered that live animals – including a spotted squirrel whose neck had been so badly wounded that the animal’s jugular vein was exposed and a chinchilla who was bleeding from a prolapsed rectum – be frozen to death.

The great news is that USGE has been shut down. More than 26,000 animals at USGE were rescued, and a federal arrest warrant has been issued for Jasen Shaw. The bad news is that the pet trade is continuing to exploit, harm and kill animals. The message is pretty simple: in industries in which people make money from animals, animals suffer. That’s true whether it’s an orca in an aquarium, a chicken on a factory farm or a chinchilla in a pet shop. And the moral is pretty simple too: never buy an animal.


  • John Gibson commented on May 6, 2010 at 1:41 pm

    I’ve never bought an animal from a pet shop and I never will. Companies that sell animals like their just merchandise and all that matters is how much money they make, is disgusting but even that word is an understatement. The complete lack of compassion is what hits me the most and how people rationalize such suffering. Pet shops should never be aloud to sell animals, through PETA’s work we can help change the lives of animals throughout the world!

  • Bryson commented on May 7, 2010 at 9:45 am

    I can’t believe anyone would ever buy from a pet shop these days given the amount of animals up for adoption. And this just goes to show the horrific treatment these animals are put through just to be a fad for someone’s kid.

    I don’t know how the investigator stayed there for so long…it’s heart breaking. Massive thanks to the investigator and to PETA.

  • KT commented on May 16, 2010 at 1:07 pm

    I am currently looking for a new animal companion but I’m definitely not going to buy from a pet shop or a breeder. Instead I’ve been checking out my local rescue centres.

  • Lydia commented on September 3, 2011 at 1:50 pm

    in my life i have had 4 fish and 2 dwarf hamsters and a rabbit i have always got them from pet at home cause i know they are really well treated ! they have this thing called support adoption and its where animals that have been returned cause kids have got board of them or they think there ugly or they bite i mean my first dwarf hamster chip god bless his soul xxxxxx bite and me and my friend ncley taught him not to , another reason is if they where born with a disability or they have like 3 legs or no eye i dont care!! they need a loving friend so i am going to bye some from there

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