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Update on Discussion between HRS and Petco

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Dear Friends of House Rabbit Society,

We wanted to give you an update on the "Petco situation," as many of you are wondering what has occurred since my letter to Petco, dated 2/14/02, was sent to Petco demanding that they stop selling rabbits, and honor a (broken) 1994 promise that was made by Petco to no longer sell rabbits in their stores.

Since February, House Rabbit Society has spent an enormous amount of time on this issue. Petco's continued sale of rabbits in many locations has been a topic at HRS national board meetings as well as in individual chapter meetings. Meetings have been held with representatives of the Petco Foundation, and a group of Petco executives came to visit the HRS shelter in California, and to meet with me.

Petco, at the time of our meeting, proposed a plan whereby HRS would "supply" rescued rabbits to adopt in Petco stores, thereby eliminating Petco's need to sell purpose-bred rabbits. After much discussion and debate, HRS worked out a detailed counter-proposal for working with Petco which did not involve placing our rabbits in their stores, as many of our volunteers had a great deal of discomfort with this idea. This proposal would still have the "visual appeal" of rabbits, and would still, we hoped, promote the sale of rabbit care products, and would, we hoped, end with Petco promising (again) to no longer sell rabbits in their stores. This proposal included a commitment from HRS to create and produce a continuous loop video (at our expense) for distribution to Petco stores. The video would show adorable rabbits, in indoor homes, doing adorable bunny things, and would highlight various aspects of correct rabbit care, which would ostensibly enhance Petco's sale of rabbit products, without their having to have live rabbits in their stores. We were hopeful that Petco would see the benefits of our offer, and respect our discomfort with placing HRS rabbits in Petco stores.

Petco turned down HRS's offer, ending discussions of any national plan, as HRS would not sponsor a national plan to provide rabbits to Petco without the agreement of all of our chapters in question. At that point, we were at a stalemate.

HRS continues to be deeply disturbed at Petco's selling of live rabbits, and at their unwillingness to work towards reasonable alternatives.

In an effort to address this situation, and in a spirit of experimentation, one local chapter has decided to undertake a single-market test (offering rescued rabbits for adoption in a single Petco store, to be compared with stores selling rabbits) to find out whether Petco sales suffer without the sale of rabbits, and to test whether the rabbits will be well cared for and placed in excellent homes. The Minnesota chapter is doing this with National House Rabbit Society's full knowledge and support, and National will reassess the situation next year, when the results of Minnesota's experiences become known. This test would be in line with Petco's original proposal to HRS, but does not come with a promise that if successful, Petco would end the sale of all rabbits across the country (although it should mean, at the very least, an end to the sale of rabbits in this particular market). If the test is successful, however, negotiations would begin to determine how Petco would implement a similar approach in other markets for the benefit of rescued rabbits everywhere, finally ending, we hope, the sale of all rabbits in all Petco stores.

We will continue to update our members and friends as the test progresses, and as we hear more from Petco and our Minnesota chapter. Please continue to choose to shop for your pet supplies in stores where no rabbits, or other animals, are sold. If you happen to live in the Twin Cities area, however, we'd appreciate it if you would support the store chosen to feature HRS rabbits for adoption. Please make it known to your Petco managers that you are supporting this store *because* of the position they have taken on rabbits.

Margo DeMello
House Rabbit Society


House Rabbit Society is a nonprofit rescue and education group.
We welcome your feedback and appreciate your donations. Please join today!

Updated December 30, 2002 by Judith Pierce