Watchdog: Pets at Home(16 Posts)
I spotted a fish in a tank that was so obviously nearly at deaths door one of the othet fish was nudging it
to get a response. I told the staff and they blanked me. So I told them again and got a muttered "oh hes not quite dead yet". Made me feel stupid for caring.
You must be mad to buy a pet from pets@home. Always something wrong with them or they die an early death. Where are the animals bred? Who are their suppliers? Their companion care vets rip you off too. What you see and what goes on behind the scenes are two very different things. Pets@Home are all about the money and nothing else. Don't be fooled.
To be fare I worked in an animal home for 6 months and that doesn't sound much different, there is no room for sentimentality when working with animals, 3 to 4 people had 2 hours to clean out 60 cat pens, you had to shift thru the shit everyday looking for traces of blood because there was loads of cat flu. There was nothing really fun, it was all just cleaning and carring buckets about, the rodents got cleaned out twice a week, the rabbits got greens 3 times a week but the rodents didn't get stuff so much.
People got ringworm off the dogs, some idiot once got food poisoning off the turtles etc.
It was a charity place so it wasn't that good and got really hot in summer.
70 I can only speak for one store (and won't say which one as that might out me) and I've not been back there for over 5 years so things may have improved (or worsened) but my experience was:
The small animals were delivered once a week from the breeders. The breeders seemed to care very little for the animals, we had to inspect them on arrival and send back any with signs of illness. We always had to refuse animals, often guinea pigs already infected with ringworm. Sometimes the infection was so obvious (big crusty patches on their faces and all over) that I found it hard to believe that they had been checked before the delivery. We were only allowed to send those back with signs of infection though, we were never allowed to send back the whole batch, even though it was likely that others would have picked up the infection but not yet be showing signs. I hated sending animals back as I knew the breeders would put them to sleep despite often suffering from mild ailments that could easily be treated. I was sending them to their death but we were not allowed to accept them
A number of my colleagues contracted ring worm (although this is often to be expected when working with small animals and my colleagues would often fail to follow the PAH policy of wearing disposable gloves and aprons when handling new or sick animals.)
The "quiet time" room, (which was always referred to as "quarantine" in my day) was tiny, cramped and not air conditioned as stated on PAH response. They used to sell birds before the bird flu scare and when you walked into this tiny room housing rabbits, guinea pigs and birds, it would stink, the birds would be startled and all start flapping about so that feathers, seed and droppings were flying about everywhere. The small cages in this room were cleaned out every other day which IMO was not enough, the shop floor animals were cleaned out every day and were not as cramped and crowded. There was A LOT of pressure on whoever was caring for the animals in the back to get the job done quickly and get back onto the shop floor asap, you were always very rushed and therefore staff would sometimes cut corners (eg just tipping out the bedding and replacing it, without washing and disinfecting the cage base). Taking animals to the vet (there was not one in-store) was to be avoided if possible and when staff pushed to be allowed to go, it was often begrudged by the manager.
The human grade fresh fruit and veg 3 times a day thing didn't happen either, this was more like twice a week, if that.
Having said all of the above though, the majority of the staff really did care about the animals and the experienced ones knew their stuff. We did do the hourly checks on the tanks and back then each tank in my store was individually filtered and not connected to any others. (This was later changed as it was high maintenance therefore not cost efficient.) I regularly refused to sell animals to customers as they did not have an appropriate cage / tank etc. The rats in the store always had a wood based pellet bedding, never wood shavings or sawdust.
I'm glad to see this thread as I had wondered what was on the programme.
I have bought fish from Pets at Home and they did fill out a form when I bought them. Though they were only interested in ticking boxes and I could have said anything to get the fish I want. There didn't seem to be any dedicated nets and 3 out of 4 fish have died.
We also bought a couple of gerbils from another PAH store and they have been great. They've lived for about 4 years so far so were obviously healthy and came from 'good stock'! PAH were very clear about having to buy at least 2 and didn't recommend we had 3 in the size of gerbilarium we had bought.
Tbh though I disagree with buying pets (excluding fish) in any pet shop. There are enough 'accidental' babies to go round and there should be a better way of rehoming them. We only bought the gerbils because DD was desperate to replace the ones that had just died and time was of the essence. When this pair die, eventually, we will be scouring the free-ads like we did with our first pair.
"they where selling before they could be sexed because customers are more likely to buy when they are cute little babies."
doreen what does go on at the back?
Or are you not allowed/it would out you to tell us?
I used to buy fish stuff in there never actually bought anything live, i once watched the man in front of me buy a blackmoor goldfish, the assistant put the fish in the bag and then spun it to twist it up before tieing the top, poor little fish was falling around all over the place.
I got sent there for a job interview by the job centre when they used to be called petsmart, i stormed out after having an argument with them after i was run thru their policies, it was the bit about the age they sold rodents that did it, they where selling before they could be sexed because customers are more likely to buy when they are cute little babies.
I buy fish from pah not furries tho I'm not into them, I don't usually have a problem they always fill out the form always ask what already in my tank size etc etc, I tend to inspect the tanks in which my chosen fish are coming from and if I see any signs of illness I don't buy them.
the staff in my local store seem pretty knowledgeable and helpful I don't always agree with them but hey ho, sometimes ill point out a tank with illness in it to them and they jump on it straight away and put treatment in before my eyes, usually whitespot but none the less fish are pretty susceptible to stress related diseases and I think sometimes part of the blame lays with the breeders who breed such poor quality fish
I think it must really vary store from store because I don't see my local store is anywhere near as bad as what watchdog have described.
Saw a rabbit in PAH 7 years ago who was being bullied/bitten by the others in the run. I told the staff but they didn't seem to care. Spent all night thinking about the bun and went back the next day and bought him. He had a torn ear and I wasn't given any advice about care etc.
Took him to the vets for vaccinations/check up and found a abcess under his chin which was drained the next day. I took the bill back to PAH and made them pay.
Also used to have dog food delivered and had two cases of wet dog food split and gone off on delivery plus a broken dog shampoo bottle. Rang the customer service line and they would only offer me £5 back, much less than the ruined products. Had to drive to nearest store for a refund and gave them the smelly food (it was vile). Never been in again.
I would never buy animals from them. I once bought fish & they died within a day, got them replaced & the same thing happened. Went to an independant pet shop bought some fish & they are still alive. Pets at home should not be allowed to sell animals.
And by livestock I mean pets of course not farm animals
My friend is a small furry animal fan and she's often posting on facebook about the rat bedding and also the fact that they happily sell single rats when rats much prefer company.
TBH I think it's time to stop selling livestock in large chain stores like this. These are organisations set up for profit, how much attention are they likely (can they afford?) to pay to the welfare of the animals?
worked there for 6 years, left 5 years ago - horrible place, that report only showed the conditions on the shop floor, you should see what goes on out the back
Have had several pets from two of our local pets at home and have always found them (irritatingly) efficient and thorough in checking the animal we have our headed and that we understand the care implications. Spose it varies lots from store to store.
Has anyone watched this?
It's not up on iplayer yet so I've only seen the 5 minute clip so far, and I've read Pets at Home's response
Some of the things Watchdog covered were daft.
- The dwarf frog being kept with small fish. I thought it was fairly obvious they meant small as in small enough to be eaten. And the fish in that tank were definitely too big for it to eat.
- the dead fish, quite a few were Gouramis which tend to have an incurable disease. Though I did think that they should have been removed sooner!
Reading the response though has made me cry bullshit more than a few times.
FWIW I've bought both fish and small animals from P@H.
"At the final stage of the process, just before the customer buys the pet, the Petscribe is completed. The Petscribe is the form used to record the essential details of each pet sale and includes a checklist of key information. Both the colleagues and the customers sign the form and the customer is given a copy to take home. This is where we also record that weve health checked the pet and hand over a Care Sheet to the customer."
Never ever seen this.
"Our small animals are housed in units which are designed above and beyond the guidelines issued by the Pet Care Trust"
I don't know too much about all the small animals, but I do know rats. And I know that they shouldn't be kept in strawdust bedding as it can cause scarring on their lungs. Every P@H store I've been in has used strawdust bedding. We even pointed it out to the staff at one store who just shrugged.
"Our colleagues are trained to use a dedicated net per Aquarium bay to ensure disease cannot travel from one bay to another via a shared net."
Again, never seen this.
" it is our policy to remove any dead fish immediately so we dont jeopardize the health of the other fish. We therefore check for losses every morning before the store opens and hourly throughout the day."
Hourly? Really? Last time we were there it took over an hour for them to serve us and it wasn't busy, they definitely didn't check the tanks in that time.
"The final visual health check is carried out by colleagues at the time of purchase. Our colleagues are trained to carry out a six point check of small animals, observing the pets nose/mouth, eyes, ears, coat/body, feet/toes and bottom. They also look for signs such as eye discharge or scratches which can indicate fighting or stress and they look for these factors in every animal."
IME they take the animals out of the cage and out them in a box, without much more than a glance to make sure they've grabbed the right one.
"At the time of purchase, both the fish being sold and all the fish in the same tank will be checked for visible signs of illness, fin, scale or eye damage, cloudy eyes and trailing clear faeces."
Maybe if they are super extra fast at checking!
Anyway, what did you all think?
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