The rabbits were discovered the same day Virginia Governor Ralph Northam signed Tommie’s Law, making animal cruelty a crime. On Wednesday, Petland announced that it had terminated the franchise agreement with the owners of the store.
An investigation by the Humane Society of the United States at a pet store in Fairfax County, Virginia, found 14 dead rabbits in the store’s freezer.
On Monday, animal control officers and detectives from the City of Fairfax Police Department executed a search warrant for Petland, Inc., a pet store at 9404 Main St. in Fairfax, “based on facts relating to the failure to provide adequate care and treatment. to pets. »
According to the Humane Society, this information was obtained by an undercover investigator who counted at least 14 rabbits, frozen stiff and roughly wrapped in plastic bags, in the freezer at the back of the store, according to the report.
“It was shocking,” the investigator said, according to the HSUS report. “The hardest part is that no one seemed worried. Everyone just seemed to accept the fact that rabbits die.
HSUS captured video during its investigation, including footage of the frozen rabbits removed from the freezer.
Their footage also captured a Petland employee saying, “We can’t do anything because they’re not being treated by a vet. When they are sick, they are sick. We just let them die.
Video captured by the HSUS can be viewed on their Twitter page. (Editor’s note: This content may be distressing for some viewers. Parental discretion is advised.)
The investigation did not conclude why so many rabbits sold by Petland are getting sick.
The HSUS alleged that most rabbits sold by Petland come from large-scale farms that do not take sufficient care of the animals by keeping them in small, dirty cages.
The report also points out that while dogs or cats may make noise to indicate they are sick or in pain, rabbits often suffer silently. Additionally, handling by inexperienced handlers and young children would mean fragile rabbits are often abandoned.
Petland issued a statement on Tuesday, saying its vice president of animal welfare was on his way to the store “to conduct a thorough investigation.”
On Wednesday, Petland announced that it had terminated the franchise agreement with the owners of the store.
“While HSUS has a history of exaggerated claims against Petland, Petland takes all pet care claims in our stores seriously,” Petland said in the statement. “Although Petland has found inaccuracies in HSUS’ latest allegations regarding the Fairfax franchise store, based on our own review of store operations, Petland has made the decision to terminate the store’s franchise agreement.”
In their previous statement, Petland called the timing of the revelations “highly suspicious”, adding, “We are even more disappointed that once again HSUS did not contact us directly in January when they claimed this is happening. was produced”.
Read the full statement here.
Fairfax City Police conducted the inspection of the facility Monday, the same day Virginia Governor Ralph Northam signed the Tommie Law, making animal cruelty a felony. They say there are currently no charges against Petland.
Nahal Amouzadeh of WTOP contributed to this report.