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World Animal Protection calls on PetSmart to stop selling wild animals

Reptiles and amphibians are carriers of salmonella, which can be transmitted directly to humans and has led to outbreaks in Canada

January 19, 2021  by CM Staff

A Ball python photographed during a visit to a PetSmart store in Ontario by World Animal Protection staff. The space for the snake is small and unlike the natural environment where snakes are free to roam when and where they please. Photo credit: World Animal Protection. March, 2020. (CNW Group/World Animal Protection)

TORONTO — World Animal Protection wants PetSmart to end the sale of reptiles and amphibians as exotic pets. This would save animals and help end the cruel wildlife trade says the charity.

“PetSmart showed themselves to be a leader when they chose not to sell kittens and puppies out of concern for their welfare, but they have ignored the welfare needs of other animals like reptiles and amphibians,” said Michèle Hamers the Wildlife Campaign Manager for World Animal Protection, in a prepared statement. “PetSmart has an opportunity to once again show their customers that they care about all animals.”

Animals are exposed at every step of the trade to stress, from transportation and handling, to being kept in conditions that fail to meet their complex needs. This can lead to physical and psychological issues.

For example, Ball pythons normally live freely in a natural environment where during the day they hide in burrows, and at night they leave their shelters to go hunt. In a store, Ball pythons are kept in small enclosures, which restricts their movement and other natural behaviours. It is generally accepted by animal welfare experts that space and providing choice are important for good animal welfare.

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Adding to the problem, many of the 1.4 million wild animals kept as pets in Canadian homes were purchased on impulse. A 2018 Stratcom study commissioned by World Animal Protection, found that 30% of Canadians spent a few hours or less researching an exotic animal prior to their first purchase and 46% rely on their local pet store to provide accurate information on the care and keeping of animals.

Health risks are another cause for concern. Public health agencies warn against the keeping of reptiles and amphibians in households with young children, people over 65, or anybody who has a compromised immune system. Reptiles and amphibians are carriers of salmonella, which can be transmitted directly to humans and has led to outbreaks in Canada.

Wild animals carry diseases with them, in fact 75% of all new or emerging infectious diseases over the past three decades originated from animals and principally from wildlife. Reptiles and amphibians are known carriers of at least 46 different zoonotic diseases.

“We’re encouraging people to speak out about their concerns and to sign our petition asking PetSmart to stop selling reptiles and amphibians. We know that animal lovers, many of whom are PetSmart customers, want to protect all animals from suffering and with their powerful voice, we can help make a change,” said Hamers.