Herrera Obtains Unprecedented Injunctions Against PETCO on Animal Conditions in City Stores

Settlement Sends Strong Message to Local Animal Care Agencies Nationwide of ‘Forceful, Activist Role to Play’ to Prevent Neglect, Mistreatment by Pet Retailers

City Attorney Dennis Herrera today announced a settlement of the City’s two-year-old litigation against PETCO Animal Supplies, Inc. that includes unprecedented court-ordered injunctions against the San Diego-based animal supplies retailer. In addition to a $50,000 payment to the City within the next 90 days, PETCO has agreed to abide for the next 18 months by tough, enforceable injunctions to prevent a pattern of cruel and illegal mistreatment of animals that the City alleged occurred in the company’s San Francisco stores over a period of three years.

“Today’s settlement sends a powerful message to local animal care agencies nationwide that they have a forceful, activist role to play in preventing the abuse, neglect and mistreatment of pets at the hands of local retailers,” said City Attorney Dennis Herrera. “Whether it’s for a Fortune 1000 powerhouse like PETCO or an independent pet shop in your local community, laws intended to protect animals from inhumane treatment have teeth-and today’s settlement with PETCO proves it.”

According to the Stipulated Injunction and Settlement Order submitted for signature to Santa Clara Superior Court today, PETCO will abide by the following provisions over the next year-and-a-half:

  • Specialized training provided to all new employees in PETCO’s San Francisco stores within three weeks of their start of employment. San Francisco’s Animal Care & Control Department will review and comment upon the training materials provided to all San Francisco PETCO employees.
  • Upon completion of the specialized training program, each PETCO employee must sign a verifiable certification of training, which must be SFACC may review upon request.
  • PETCO will refer all sick or injured companion animals to medical care.
  • PETCO must designate a managerial or executive level employee at PETCO’s corporate headquarters as a contact for San Francisco’s Animal Care & Control Department regarding any issue pertaining to the care of animals in their San Francisco stores. All calls must be returned within 48-hours, and PETCO assures that all outstanding issues will be resolved quickly and professionally.
  • PETCO will ensure that San Francisco has a regional manager contact at all times, and will inform San Francisco if this person changes at any time.
  • Reviews of all PETCO’s animals in San Francisco stores by an independent veterinarian selected from a list of mutually agreeable practitioners nominated by both parties.

Herrera filed suit against PETCO in June 2002, originally seeking to permanently enjoin the retailer from live animal sales in San Francisco after the company repeatedly ignored warnings and citations from San Francisco’s Animal Care & Control Department about its inhumane and illegal treatment of small pets at its 1685 Bryant Street and 1591 Sloat Boulevard locations.

According to the City’s complaint, Animal Care & Control inspectors and PETCO’s own customers documented numerous instances animal cruelty over a period of three years, including sick and dying animals kept in freezers; untreated animals with contagious diseases; animals left in unsanitary enclosures without water; cages overcrowded with mice; freezers filled with dead birds; and reptiles and fish left dead in display tanks.

PETCO-which operates 654 stores in 43 states and the District of Columbia-reported $1.65 billion in net sales for the fiscal year ending January 31, 2004 in its “Form 10-K” annual report with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission.

“Today’s settlement would not have been possible without the continuing good work of San Francisco’s Animal Care and Control Department,” Herrera said. “And I’m thankful to all the inspectors and administrators who helped make this injunction possible.”

“Although saddened that we had to take legal action against PETCO, we are very pleased with the settlement and feel confident that PETCO will adhere to the mandates of this injunction,” said Carl Friedman, director of San Francisco’s Animal Care & Control Department. “Score this one as a victory for all the companion animals that are housed and sold by pet stores.”

The case is City and County of San Francisco v. PETCO Animal Supplies, Inc. et al, Santa Clara County Superior Court Case No. CV811807.