PetSmart, a Valley-based pet store chain, is under fire from animal welfare advocates for selling rabbits in some of its stores.
Company officials said they’re listening to criticism from organizations who say rabbit sales are unethical, however, they aren’t bending to the pressure.
“We’re not terribly surprised by the response but at the same time we believe that ... adoptions and sales can co-exist,” said company spokesman Bruce Richardson.
In July, PetSmart began test sales of dwarf rabbits in 25 stores including two in the Valley and one in Tucson. The Phoenix-based company has yet to decide on whether to continue to sales.
Organizations like the Calif.-based House Rabbit Society, Phoenix-based Brambley Hedge Rabbit Rescue and People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals have publicly chastised the retailer saying, among other things, the sales will contribute to overpopulation in shelters and pounds.
The critics, many of whom partner with the retailer by offering rabbit adoptions, say the company also has reneged on a commitment not to sell rabbits.
“It really does feel like a smack in the face,” said Mary Cotter, outreach and education director for House Rabbit Society.
Richardson, however, said the company’s never had a no-rabbit policy.
He said the rabbits make good companions and are the third most popular pet behind cats and dogs.
They’re also the third most-euthanized animal when owners find them too burdensome, Cotter said,
Richardson said the company ensures their breeders follow proper husbandry guidelines by providing good care and safe transportation.
The retailer is taking other steps to ensure rabbit populations don’t explode.
Richardson said they spay and neuter the animals before they reach the sales floor and they won’t sell them during the Easter holiday season — a time when demand sky-rockets.