The small animals sold at PetSmart cost the multibillion-dollar company next to nothing and make up a minuscule percentage of the company's total sales. So why does PetSmart buy them by the thousands only to leave them to die from disease and injury?
The answer is simple. Adorable hamsters are frequently bought on impulse when parents can't resist their child's pleading. The hamster may not cost much, but supplies add up quickly. Cages, bedding, food, and other paraphernalia amount to millions of dollars in annual profit.
PetSmart sells birds and other animals to people who often buy them on impulse and don't have a clue about how to care for them properly. Just as there are puppy mills, there are enormous bird factories and massive animal "suppliers," where breeders warehouse thousands of "breeding stock," whose babies are taken away and sold. Regulation of such massive facilities is often lax or non-existent, leaving the monitoring of breeders to the company itself—and leaving the animals to suffer the consequences.
For years, PetSmart has assured PETA and concerned customers that sick and injured animals in its stores are provided with veterinary care when they need it. But during PETA's undercover investigation in 2006, we documented that more than 100 small animals—including hamsters, domestic rats, lizards, chinchillas, and birds—were deprived of adequate veterinary care and slowly dying, hidden away in PetSmart's back rooms, out of customers' sight.