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Caroline's complaint against Pets At Home
Pets at Home getting rid of their terminally ill pets by putting them up for adoption
Complaint against Pets At Home
To whom it may concern, We are trying to file a complaint of animal neglect at Pets at Home, after adopting a pet that had a contagious disease (we have another rabbit) and in terminal condition (she died just after 10 days of being home). We were not aware of her diagnosis at the time of the adoption as we were misled by Pets at Home members of staff. Snowy (adopted female rabbit) wasn’t fit for adoption. She was suffering and terminally ill. The places I’ve tried calling or writing couldn’t understand that our concern is not about the money we’ve spent (adoption charity donation, hutch, etc) but the fact that they are putting other pets at risk and not giving proper care to the ones they have in store. They are allowing new owners to bond with them without a full understanding of their conditions. Snowy was underweight and extremely weak. We tried RSPCA, Trading Standards, and Greenwich Council, but they don’t have an Animal Welfare department. We felt that just calling the store and their central complaints department is not enough to ensure that changes will be made to ensure the well-being of the animals based on their responses (which always start with excuses before you can even tell them what happened). We are writing to you because we don’t think it is fair that a company as big as Pets at Home, so full of regulations, rules and licences is able to get away with something so inhumane and cruel and we are not sure on how to proceed. Would you be able to advise what would be the best course of action? Any help we can get would be much appreciated. We’ve lost a beloved pet, and put another one at risk, due to their negligence. Nothing will bring her back but something should be done in order to avoid them doing it to other animals. Please find below a full (and long) breakdown of what happened: On May 7th we visited Pets at Home Blackheath, 100 Blackheath Road, London, SE10 8DA to enquire about a rabbit that was up for adoption. We specifically needed a female rabbit to be a companion to our male and this was the first thing we informed their members of staff. They were happy to do a gender check and after confirming she was female we asked a few questions about her condition and why she was put for adoption. We were informed that Snowy had been at the back of their shop for several months and they were not able to sell her due to her respiratory problems. She had been under treatment with their vet (Vets for Pets, which is located within the facilities) but they were not able to diagnose her with anything. They tried a few different caring techniques and came to the conclusion that her condition was due to a “dust allergy” and even joked about her being a rabbit with hayfever or asthma. She would need special care and to be checked by a vet every now and then if her breathing conditions were to get worse, but the best way to look after her would be to keep her on a dust free environment, special bedding and on a diet of hay cookies, since the dust generated from normal hay could trigger her allergy. We also enquired about her being neutered and if we could have a copy of all the medical treatment done at their facilities. We were given a copy of it and after the member of staff checked with Vets for Pets they advised that neutering wouldn’t be recommended due to her condition. With that information on hand we asked if her condition could be contagious, as the main reason for adopting her was to give my male rabbit a companion. We were told more than once, NO, it’s not contagious, it’s just an allergy. Our mistake was to take their advice. We are pet lovers that aim to provide the best care and life they can possibly have, but we don’t understand vet records, we don’t know names of all possible diseases a rabbit can have. We trust them to explain it for us. Since all she needed was special care, which we were more than happy to provide, we decided to take her home. When you adopt a pet from them you receive a voucher for a free health check and first vaccinations. We booked her in for the following Saturday (May 13th). We assumed that she would be seen by the vet that took care of her while she was on their shop but she ended up being seen by a different vet that, according to his own words, had no knowledge of rabbits and the best course of action in order to get more information about Snowy’s condition was to request a call back for the vet that had been treating her. She gave us a call on Monday (May 15th) and informed us that Snowy had been diagnosed with Pausterella, a common disease found in rabbits and worst of all, contagious and incurable. By this point, as we were not aware that Snowy had this disease, she had already started to bond with our perfectly healthy rabbit, so he was at risk of being contaminated. That was the first problem we had. I called their shop manager (Tuesday 16th) and explained that their staff had put my male rabbit at risk by not disclosing the full extent of her condition. Their response was that the staff have no understanding of medical conditions (even though they have a big banner saying it takes 9 books and 10 months of training to become a member of staff) and that she was only put for adoption once they had received an all clear from the vets. We were trying to negotiate a free health check and tests for my male rabbit to determine if he had been contaminated. The manager was happy to gather some information and see if the store could pay for a health check and a swab. A quote from Vets for Pets had been generated and they were waiting on a response from Pets at Home to see if they would cover the costs as a way of compensation from them not informing us of her contagious condition. By Wednesday 17th, not having received any response from them and by this point not feeling we could trust their opinion, we decided to take both of our rabbits to a rabbit specialist. After checking her lungs, nose and weight, the vet informed us that her condition was extremely chronic, and that she had almost no usable lung tissue left. While still on the vet’s table, Snowy had a seizure and died in less than 10 min. After the shock of seeing our beloved pet die, we tried to figure it out if we had done something wrong, but were reassured by the vet that her condition was so critical that it was only a matter of days for this to happen. We do understand that staff members of a pet shop are not qualified vets and don’t have a full understanding of their diseases. Our main concerns are: • If the staff members didn’t know about how serious her condition was, they shouldn’t advise us that it was perfectly safe to take her home and bond her. • If they knew, they willingly decided to keep that information from us. • Snowy had been seen by the in-house vet for several months prior to adoption. At the very least the vet should have informed the Pets at Home staff that they should be careful of transmitting the disease to their other rabbits for sale (washing hands after handling, etc.). • If they were given her an all clear from the vets, which excludes them from any responsibility, why didn’t they try to understand her condition more, so they could give her the best treatment while she was still in the shop (she was underweight, not given a proper diet, being handled without special concerns about the abscesses she had on her body) • Why did the vet give her an all clear to be adopted after just four days of finishing the treatment if her condition was so critical? Rehoming a pet is extremely stressful for them and we don’t think, knowing now the full extent of her condition, that it helped her in any way. She died in a very stressful, undignified way that was, in our point of view, unnecessary and cruel. • We have seen other pets for adoption with symptoms very similar to the ones Snowy had, and upon enquiry were told that they had nothing wrong with them. Unfortunately, at the time, we were not aware of what it was, so it makes us wonder if they are not doing the same to other animals. Whatever reason or excuse they have, that is still, in our opinion, animal neglect. • We have asked about several rabbits up for adoption in various Pets at Home stores in our area, and unfailingly they are from their sales stock that they were unable to sell for various reasons. It feels to me that their “charity” is nothing more than another way to sell their stock that had suffered in the hands of irresponsible staff and vets, as they are both part of the same company. We are kindly asking you to help us with this matter. Please understand we are not aiming for financial compensation or a pet replacement, like other places suggested. We just feel they should be investigated to avoid other pets receiving the cruel treatment Snowy had. If this is a matter you are unable to help with, could you kindly suggest any other association or social media platforms where we can tell our story and raise awareness?
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