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  • Superpet and Kaytee encourage the purchase of small animals as gifts
  • Letter to Superpet and Kaytee

    November 27, 2009

    Pets International/Super Pet
    Robert Krause, President
    2121 Touhy Ave
    Elk Grove Village, IL 60007

    Kaytee Products, Inc.
    Bill Engler, CEO
    521 Clay Street, P.O. Box 230
    Chilton, WI 53014

    Dear Mr. Krause and Mr. Engler,

    I am extremely disturbed by your "No Batteries Required" and "Fundango" Web campaigns.

    The "No Batteries Required" video clearly and overtly suggests that parents purchase small pets for their kids in lieu of electronic toys. This video directly subverts the work that animal protection organizations have been doing for years to educate the public that animals are not toys. Your video markets them as replacements for toys and implies that real animals are "easier" to care for than toys because no batteries are required. What an irresponsible and reprehensible message.

    Shelters are overflowing with unwanted pets abandoned by families whose children tired of them, just as they tire of their toys, and many shelters cannot accommodate even small pets due to the overwhelming numbers of cats and dogs. Many small animals, purchased spontaneously, suffer from neglect in their homes, or are abandoned in parks where they meet cruel fates. After an entire video of pets being portrayed literally as substitutions for toys, your tiny disclaimer about pets not being toys at the end of the video is both too little and too late.

    As for your Petfundango site, I cannot imagine anything more irresponsible in this day and age than to encourage pets in the classroom. You recommend that teachers determine if any students have allergies. There is no practical way for them to do this. Complex allergy tests would be required. Even then, what about next year's class? And who is taking the pet home on vacation and the summer? A child? Once again, you are promoting the myth that small pets are low-maintenance, disposable toys.

    Making matters worse, your care pages are loaded with misinformation. For example, grass hay, not chew toys, is required for rabbits' dental health. And your "Things To Do" tip to "Host your own wrestling match?" This suggestion demonstrates such a lack of understanding of how children interact with -- and injure - small animals that it boggles the mind.

    As the world's largest rabbit rescue organization with a presence in forty states and six countries, and a website that gets over a million hits per week, House Rabbit Society has played the leading role in rescuing and placing abandoned rabbits. In our twenty years of rescue work, we have rescued over 20,000 rabbits, and our members look to us to fight the continued breeding and sale of rabbits, and to prevent as many of their deaths as we can.

    There simply is no excuse in this day and age for companies such as yours to not only promote the sale of animals, when so many animals are dying at animal shelters, but to promote the uninformed purchase of animals as holiday gifts.

    House Rabbit Society will be informing our members of both Kaytee and SuperPet's decision to place dollars over animal lives, and will encourage our members and allies to shop elsewhere for their pet supplies. We also will be speaking with other animal protection groups to let them know of your ill-informed web campaigns.

    In closing, on behalf of the Board of Directors of House Rabbit Society, I ask that Kaytee and SuperPet withdraw these campaigns.

    I eagerly await your response to our request. Please do not hesitate to contact me if you need further information or clarification on anything covered in this letter.

    Sincerely,

    Margo DeMello, Ph.D.
    President
    House Rabbit Society


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