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« Forced spay/neuter law dead in California | Main | That hormone thing, redux »

19 June 2008

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slt

Rather puts "Where the pets go" in a new light... ick.

Lori

I've always liked Petsmart better. Although I know they've had their share of problems.

straybaby

Well, they were busy in April . . . hiding the fact we had toxic tomatoes. . . .

Kat "

Makes me wanna PUKE! Guess the FDA was just daudling along, scratching their heads for TWO MONTHS - wondering if they were gonna actually have to DO SOMETHING!



Here's PETCO's Contact Us pg: http://www.petco.com/Content/ContactMain.aspx?PC=contactus&Nav=166

Jessica

The “small government” people always want to let market forces operate unless, you know, they don’t. In other words, letting people know what they need to know to make informed decisions is bad, protecting corporations is good.

I think the small government people would tell you that the FDA should be abolished. Reading this story, it sounds to me like it's the big government that's protecting corporations.

Gina Spadafori

Jessica, you might be interested in this piece by Paul Krugman on how the "small government" people have been throttling regulatory agencies while pushing to hand them over to the industries they are supposed to be watching.

Colorado Transplant

Well, my Batman got tired of all the cat food I bought from Petsmart and caught his own organic food. I cannot tell you what it was because it disgusts me to look at the remains.



The vet spent about 15 minutes with me yesterday to get me to slim him down. He has gained about 2 and l/2 lbs. in 2 and l/2 months.

I wondered how many calories he caught for himself today. I will have to deduct an estimated amount from the calories in the canned food I give him. Oh, dear!



Poor Petco--they might lose a lot of money because of the publicity. Poor shareholders.

Susan Fox

Not that I needed another reason to buy our pets' food at a locally owned business instead of Petco, but jeez. Sounds like they need to "hire" some barn cats ASAP.

Jessica

Gina: I may have taken a different message from that NY Times article than you did, and I would love to see a post from you about how you think food regulation should change. Personally I'm not convinced the USDA and FDA are fixable, but I'd be extremely interested in hearing someone else's proposal about how things should be fixed!

Seren

Colorado Transplant: I believe Petco went private several years ago, so they do not have to please shareholders with a high dividend.

Their high prices, compared to Petsmart, must just be do to greed. The Petco head office told me they charged more for identical items due to the exceptional service they offer the customers, Ha!

Lis

Honestly, I've always found the service to be better at Petsmart, as well as the prices.



But more and more, it seems worth the extra trouble to go to the slightly more distant locally-owned stores.

BJN

One big way to fix the FDA and other agencies would be to vote in folks who aren't out to prove that government can't do anything well - by doing everything they can to make sure that government doesn't do anything well.



The folks who believe in a completely unfettered market and it's "invisible hand" don't care if it takes sick or dead pets and consumers to eventually create enough bad press that consumers choose to buy elsewhere. Those folks are also often on the side of those who would limit liability suits against companies and individuals who knowingly endanger consumers for more profit.



It's time to roll back the second coming of the robber-baron era.

Marcy

I don't shop at the pet "superstores."



They don't carry the better brands (hopefully they're better) of pet food anyway, at least the one close to me doesn't.



One thing that was a tip off to me about the quality being sold at my local PETCO, was the fish room. I have been keeping aquariums for many years, and I know when I see unhealthy fish, or fish that have had bad handling by the suppliers prior to being sold.

Carol V

I must chime in about PetCo...the first and only (and last) time I went was two weeks ago...having recently lost my 2 yr old golden to cancer (second golden in two years with cancer) I needed to purchase a crate and play-yard and needed to be time efficient so off I went. I also wanted to buy my new pup Jack some safe toys, chew and soft and when I asked where the dog/puppy toys are that were not made in China the salesgirl told me where all the toys were and I asked if any domestic/organic toys and she said no that all their toys were safe and then I asked if she was aware of the melamine/ca contamination in the pet food last year from China and reports of lead in dog toys from China and she had never heard of that and looked at me like I had three heads.....

Sharon

Please, PETCO will NEVER be a "great store" and, from my experience, the animals definitely do NOT come first. I'm with a no kill rescue shelter and the new PETCO dangled all sorts of carrots to get us to place cats in those horrible boxes to live. I've gone around and checked several of the PETCO stores and found the cats without water or food and too depressed to even move around...if there were room for them to move around. Just yesterday I was at the brand new PETCO and saw kittens with no litter box and no water. The manager wasn't available, so I went home and called back. Was told "it's been taken care of, thanks for letting us know." Went back to the store and still no litter, no water. Any place that sells animals is all about the profits, not the animals.

Marcy

Sarah...



I was merely commenting on my local PETCO store. Can't speak for all of them, nor Petsmart, because I have not shopped there.



If you call an "educated employee," as one who would let a "first time fishkeeping family" dad almost buy his 5 year old son a saltwater fish, with no idea on how to keep it...then I guess our definitions of education are different. It was only after I let the dad know how difficult saltwater fishkeeping can be for a novice, that he opted to buy a less difficult freshwater fish for their first try.



The aisles at my local PETCO are full of junk stacked up, are narrow, and the service isn't good either.



The premium foods I was referring to definitely were not Science Diet, IAMS, or Pedigree dog and cat food. The last time I checked PETCO was not carrying the brands of cat food that I now buy. I called and the employee told me that they don't carry them. Sorry, but since the pet food recalls you couldn't pay me to buy the brands that they carry.



You have a right to your opinion, Sarah...as do we. And we have a right not to shop at PETCO or Petsmart, if that's our choice.

slt

I think it's clear the the PETCO supply warehouse sitch is more than a 'difficult to keep the pests away' thing. Rodents were urinating, defecating, gnawing at, reproducing and dying among the food in this warehouse. See this article for details:

http://www.southtownstar.com/news/1017529,062108petco.article

Christie Keith

As someone who doesn't shop at "big box" retailers of ANY kind but once or twice a year, and then at gunpoint, if you removed all signage and put me in a Petco and a Petsmart, I couldn't tell the difference between them. I think they only seem different if you're strictly comparing huge chains to huge chains.



This is where I shop:



http://www.sunsetpetsupply.com/Welcome.html



THAT is a good pet supply store.

Lis

Oh, I should probably note: Not an employee of either company, and I have concerns about Petsmart, too. Can't really buy toys at either chain, either.

Lis

Sarah, I'm glad you're proud of the company you work for.



I know PetCo was around before Petsmart. It also has higher prices. The service is, well, at least in my area, it's possible to make a "quick stop" at Petsmart. It's not possible to make a "quick stop" at PetCo.



Petsmart doesn’t educate their employees about the different animals and it shows if you ever go to a store to purchase an animal. They have a very small selection of animals also.



Selling animals at all is a point against both Petsmart and PetCo. Having a larger selection of animals does not, for me, tilt this one in favor of PetCo.



PETCO will always be “Where the Pets Go” because “Animals Always Come First!”



It's a mistake to fall for your own advertising slogans.:( Around here, one of the notable differences between Petsmart and PetCo is that people are a lot more likely to bring their pets to Petsmart, whether for a shopping trip or for socialization practice.



It is a shame that the distribution center had this problem, but considering the amount of animal food that is there, I am sure that it is not that easy to keep the pests away.



The FDA isn't describing a normal "these things happen" kind of situation. They're describing a serious failure to do adequate pest control. The company should expect to take a hit for it.

Sarah (PETCO employee)

To all of you that say PETCO is a bad store, it is actually a great store and company. They ensure that all of the employees are well educated on every animal (birds, small animals, reptiles, dogs and cats, and aquatics. They ensure that if there is any injured or sick animal, fish, bird, or reptile at it is properly cared for which includes a call and/or visit from a vet.



It is a shame that the distribution center had this problem, but considering the amount of animal food that is there, I am sure that it is not that easy to keep the pests away.



Also, PETCO carries a large selection of pet foods including organic, holistic, and premium brands. The employees are also education monthly about the benefits of higher quality pet food. Many people think that if you buy your pet Science Diet, Iams, or any Pedigree dog or cat food is a great food. Well you are sadly mistaken. Their foods contain a type of BH that is bad for your dog.



But anyhow, as far as Petsmart goes, PETCO was around before them and every idea or promotional thing that they have ever had or done was stolen from PETCO. PETCO was around first and they had all the great ideas which were stolen by Petsmart. Petsmart doesn't educate their employees about the different animals and it shows if you ever go to a store to purchase an animal. They have a very small selection of animals also.



Even though this thing with the distribution center may put PETCO down a little, doesn't mean that people should no longer shop at the store. PETCO is a great company and they still care a lot for the animals.



PETCO will always be "Where the Pets Go" because "Animals Always Come First!"

Joy

Wow. PETCO teaches their employees that some brands they carry are “bad for your dog”?

slt

To my mind, there is a big difference between (for example) a lab running tests for Nutro and a lab who can not test consumers' Nutro food samples due to a conflict of interest. That smacks of dishonesty and hiding of negative test results and such. A lab who regularly tests food for Nutro would be an excellent choice for testing Nutro samples from consumers since they are familiar with the food and the tests.

Maybe the lab is thinking that a "clear" test result will be viewed with skepticism by the consumer due to the lab's involvement with Nutro? But heck, if they are not OWNED or EXCLUSIVELY CONTRACTED by Nutro, why do they care who is paying them to test samples? Their business ethics would determine the integrity of their results and presumably they would stand behind those. If the consumer is not satisfied with the test results, they can always go elsewhere. As long as the consumer is informed in advance of the lab's testing for Nutro, they can make an informed decision to use that lab or not.

Sandi K

Well perhaps their in-house rule is whoever they get the most money from, we all know that wouldnt be pet owners. Makes me want to see the results of those subpoenas Congress issued on some of those labs even more.....how many hurdles do pet parents have to jump thru and go around and climb under to get the truth about the food we feed our pets?

Carol V

I don't understand why some labs say that--I too was told I could not get my food tested by certain labs (to confirm acetaminophen in Special Kitty) due to the fact that they also test food for pet food companies...yet UC Davis was testing food for consumers and Menu Foods--so I wonder what the "rule" about that really is!

slt

Any lab who said this is beholden in some way to Nutro and/or the suppliers of Nutro's ingredients and/or possibly the FDA - that's the only way I can think to interpret it. How many labs? Isn't there anyone who just runs a "regular" testing lab - not in the pocket of some corporation or govt. entity?

Sandi K

That was one of my many concerns too, slt, since when is it a conflict of interest to get ones pet food tested....And I see that Nutro's customer svc attitude hasnt changed in the least. Guess they dont feel they need to, the recent settlement doesnt hurt them.

slt

Regarding the new Nutro article: Particularly disturbing to me was this bit from an owner who sent Nutro samples of her dog's food for analysis but didn't hear back:

"I'm trying to find an independent lab to test the food, but some say it would be a conflict of interest to test the food and others say they don't know what to test for."

A lab can't test a sample of Nutro food without it being a conflict of interest? Isn't the lab's "interest" in performing tests and reporting results to clients?

Lis

You have a serious problem. You do now need to be telling me or anyone else what they can and can’t say, where can and can’t shop.



Oh, my!



Well, I certainly haven't told anyone where they can and can't shop. As for telling you what you can and can't say--sorry, didn't do that either. "Don't tell me X while you are doing Y..." is an objection against inconsistency or hypocrisy. I think everyone else understood it as such, and not as an attempt to silence you.



PETCO and Petsmart can’t help what they carry.



Oh, dear.



Sarah, yes, they can help what they carry. No one else makes that decision for them. PetCo and Petsmart decided for themselves what they will stock. That's why they don't have identical stock--at the corporate buyer level, they're making similiar but not identical choices.



Now, if you mean that each local store can't decide what it carries--that's true. PetCo and Petsmart both operate on a particularly braindead version of the chain concept: stock every store in the chain with identical stock, in proportions determined by how things sell over the entire chain on average, rather than letting local conditions influence stock in particular stores.



But when I say "PetCo does this" or "Petsmart does that" I'm talking about the chains as a whole. When I mean my local stores, I say so.



PetCo and Petsmart most certainly do control their own stocking decisions, and they choose to carry treats and toys made in China, despite the abundant evidence that it's not safe for our pets to do so.



The majority of the pet stores now are starting to carry foods and items and such that ARE made in the USA only! That whole thing is still new. Things like that do take time to work out.



The better independent stores have had the USA-made treats and toys on their shelves for many, many months. PetCo and Petsmart are still trying to figure out if there's enough demand that they have to go to the effort of making the change.



It is up to the pet owners to decide what they want for their individual pet.



We can only choose from what we can find. I have the means to get to slightly more distant, locally owned specialty stores that do carry the USA-made toys that PetCo and Petsmart can't seem to find. I have the onlie research skills to find online sources of USA-made toys. I have a neighbor who makes dog treats that are both tasty and safe.



But people have a right have confidence that the food, treats, and toys they are giving their pets are safe, regardless of their level of knowledge or their economic resources. We shoujld not all have to be research librarians or have middle class incomes in order to be confident that what we give to our pets is not poisoned and not from a country which has repeatedly poisoned them. (And often, Sarah, that "made in China" notation is in the tiniest possible print, hard to find even when you're a cynical b**** like me and actively looking for it.)



Oh and Lis, isn’t China where they eat many animals that we here in the USA have as pets like dogs and cats!?



Yes, Sarah, it is. At least sometimes.



How exactly you think that's a point in favor of PetCo and Petsmart carrying treats and toys made in China, I have no idea.

Sarah (PETCO employee)

Oh and Lis, isn't China where they eat many animals that we here in the USA have as pets like dogs and cats!?

Sandi K

Others dont think Nutro is so great either according to this new article at Consumer Affairs: http://www.consumeraffairs.com/news04/2008/06/pet_food_recalls98.html

Lis

We carry brands from companies that were not a part of the whole food issue thing last year. I have always fed my animals Nutro and they were not a part of it or at least a large selection of their food was not.



Sarah, yes, indeed, Nutro was affected by the food recalls last year. Not all their foods, no, but very few companies had all their foods recalled.



High, medium, and low-end foods; canned, dry, and pouch; foods in every one of those categories was affected. And after the first round of recalls, we were assured that everything remaining on shelves was safe. We got the same assurance after the second, third, fourth--on and on and on.



If you were feeding Nutro--one of the early names to make it onto the list--and never experienced doubt as to the safety of your pets' food, as week after week more foods were added to the list just after the news cutoff on Friday, you are a remarkably trusting individual. Most of us here are not quite so trusting.



The unifying link in the recalls last year was contaminated wheat flour passed off as wheat gluten. PetCo still carries lots of treats that are manufactured in China. So does Petsmart, of course--but don't tell me how great your store is and how much it cares about animals, when you carry toys for animals to chew on, and treats for them to eat, that are made in China, which doesn't even police food safety for the benefit of its own citizens, never mind our pets.

Sarah (PETCO employee)

Lis-

You have a serious problem. You do now need to be telling me or anyone else what they can and can't say, where can and can't shop.

PETCO and Petsmart can't help what they carry. It is up to the pet owners to decide what they want for their individual pet. The majority of the pet stores now are starting to carry foods and items and such that ARE made in the USA only! That whole thing is still new. Things like that do take time to work out.

Sarah (PETCO employee)

I just want to add that I am from a suburb of Chicago, Illinois

Sarah (PETCO employee)

Marcy-

I just want to add, that no one in my store would ever sell any type of saltwater fish or any type of fresh water besides a Betta or Goldfish to a pet parent who has a younger child that will be taking care of it.

And as for the dog food. We carry a large variety and we even carry extremely high quality foods that Petsmart doesn't carry. We carry brands from companies that were not a part of the whole food issue thing last year. I have always fed my animals Nutro and they were not a part of it or at least a large selection of their food was not.



Yes, I love my store. And of course there are going to be things that I will disagree about. Just because I am an employee at a PETCO doesn't mean I purchase everything for my own animals there.



Sharon-

About the cat rescue thing, I have never heard of a PETCO store keeping cats or kittens there at the store. We have rescue groups come into the store for a couple hours to try to get people to see the animals. This is a feature that I really like because I am against pet stores that sell puppies and kittens from puppy mills. I refuse to shop in any of those stores because I feel it is very wrong to sell them and even keep them in those horribly small cages and so forth.

Colorado Transplant

I have difficulty when I think of going to Petco.



As I walk down to first aisle to get to the pet food, usually canned cat food, I have to pass all the snakes in their cages, hoping one is not running around loose. That has happened in the past.



I scream when I see snakes. I do not want to scream in a public place. Also, there was a little critter loose one time and we had to ask the clerk to put it back in the cage. I forget what kind of critter it was.



I DO NOT WANT TO SEE THOSE SNAKES, PETCO, do you hear me--even if you did, you would probably say I was a nut case, albeit a nice nut case.

Gina Spadafori

Sarah, no offense taken.



In fact, given the perspicacity you've shown here, leaving the veterinary field for retail was probably a good career move for you.

slt

Comment by Sarah (PETCO employee) — June 24, 2008 @ 5:14 am



Well do tell! Is Nutro your recommended food?

Sarah (PETCO employee)

Gina - No offense or anything but I have previous knowledge on what foods and things are good for pets. I am also a certified vet tech. Just an FYI.

Gina Spadafori

I hardly know where to start.



Sarah, I am sure you love animals, and I am glad you are trying to do right by them and by your employer. I am also glad you are proud of your work. These are all good things.



But you are dealing with a knowledgeable readership here, any one of whom I would take advice from on feeding my pets before I would listen to a clerk at a chain store.



I also prefer to discuss any care issues with my veterinarian, who has, um, years of post-graduate study, as opposed to the Kool-Aid dump you apparently got as part of your new employee handbook.



Taking advice on feeding my pets from a big box pet retailer's employee would be like taking advice on feeding my children from the greeter at Wal-Mart. And makes about as much sense.

Sarah (PETCO Employee)

Joy - Anyone can know what type of food is good or bad for their dog. They just have to research it or look under the ingredients. PETCO teaches their employees the different qualities and the what the difference in each brand/type. We can have our own opinion on what foods we like best. My cats used to be on Purina One and I switched them to Nutro and they are now 100% better than ever. They are healthier because of the change.

Lis - You are very opinionated and I am thru talking to you.

mab

And I agree with you that it is unnaceptable. There is really no way to win. The fact is we get ingredients cheaper from China, and no matter how many times I've heard "I would pay a little bit more for something stamped 'MADE IN AMERICA'", they don't do it! I see they buying trends...companies know they can hike up the prices of those american made products!!! And considering we pay nearly $50 for a bag of decent dog food, some can't bring it to themselves to pay an outrageous amount of money for american made rawhide. Supply and demand sucks!

Lis

After reading all of this, I have come to this conclusion….both PETCO and Petsmart have their pros and cons. The same is true for any competing company in any field. Yes, you will still find products “made in China” in both stores. The fact of the matter is you will still find TONS of things we use on a day to day basis made in China.



Yes, you will, and I use many of them. Not always happily, but I do use them.



But after the events of the past year and a half, carrying almost exclusively dog and cat toys made in China, or any amount of cat or dog food or treats made in China, is inexcusable and indefensible.



And as bad as the whole recall was, I have to trust that all the regulatory services we have in this country are doing their job and keeping things “safe”.



I can only say, after the events of the past year and a half, I find that statement absolutely breath-taking.



And I say that despite the fact that I do, in fact, believe we'd be even worse off without those agencies, even in their current crippled and corrupted form.

The OTHER Pat

Comment by Sarah (PETCO employee) — June 24, 2008 @ 5:14 am



"Gina - No offense or anything but I have previous knowledge on what foods and things are good for pets. I am also a certified vet tech. Just an FYI."



Well THAT explains a lot.



BTW, Sarah - so am I. Don't get me started on the various reasons why I left the field . . . . . .

Gina Spadafori

mab wrote: "I have to trust that all the regulatory services we have in this country are doing their job and keeping things 'safe'."



Hey, well, as someone who has been covering food safety issues pretty much non-stop for more than a year, let me just say:



Good luck with that.

mab

I can't believe the bickering going on here!!!



After reading all of this, I have come to this conclusion....both PETCO and Petsmart have their pros and cons. The same is true for any competing company in any field. Yes, you will still find products "made in China" in both stores. The fact of the matter is you will still find TONS of things we use on a day to day basis made in China. And as bad as the whole recall was, I have to trust that all the regulatory services we have in this country are doing their job and keeping things "safe".



Regarding the knowledge of staff at the stores, yes, there are many "young kids" who aren't very knowledgable, but there are also people who have been with their company for years and do it simply because they like the work. So I think saying someone who was a vet tech before and now works for a retail store did it for "obvious reasons" (not exactly how it was worded, but how I took it at least) is a bit harsh. I am in the pet industry and work with someone who has 2 masters degrees and worked for the government and now works with us simply because she loves animals. So suggesting that someone has the intelligence to only get a retail job is a bit rude.



As far as taking the word of a vet or someone online, its really hit or miss too! I have friends that have told me vet recommended feeding her animal SD, which is full of fillers and one of the low end "premium" foods, in my opinion.



Where PETCO and Petsmart have much of the same foods in their store, I have found that PETCO has more "natural and organic" foods. PETCO exclusively sells Solid Gold (which I feed my dogs), Halo (a relatively new brand to the major retailer market), and Wellness (which I feed my cats and is one of the most sought after holistic foods). They also sell Natural Balance which is very popular, however I dont feel is one of the higher quality foods like Wellness or SG. Those 2 brands bring me to the store as I don;t have many "mom and pop" stores near me.



Colorado Transplant- I agree with you about the snakes, I HATE them too!

Sarah (PETCO employee)

Mab, thanks for sticking up for me. Apparently there are a lot of "animal lovers" that are rude and choose to pick on people that are sticking up for themselves, their background knowledge, and their career choices.



I never said anything about whether or not I still work as a vet tech. I am sorry to say in this day and age not many people can afford to have just any one average job alone. Especially with the price of everything going up except for most average salaries. Plus many people like to have a more of a hobby job or a job that is a little bit more fun and where you can get to know other people and see a lot of exotic animals outside of a veterinary clinic.



Oh, just so you all know by the way the distribution center in Joliet is almost back to what it should be. They have painted the warehouse and it is looking better. That is the info that my boss has given me.

Sarah (PETCO employee)

Oh and SLT, yes I do personally recommend NUTRO and I still feed it to my cats because I love the difference that it has changed for them.

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