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While it is commendable to wish to save these fish and do it with a large number of people behind you, you have to remember that it is not something that you can do with forum backing without the Administrator's permission and while he and the others running the forum may be sympathetic with, it is not wise for them to put themselves legally in a place where the forum could be put in harm's way for this. While I am sympathetic, and I HATE the actions of the people doing this, asking people to put themselves in a legal problem for this is not the right way to handle it either.

I totally agree with Susankat and say that the correct way to do this is to get your evidence together and go to the corporate offices of the store. They are the ones in control of the situation and the only ones who can change the situation. You can hold chats until the cows come home and this is not going to change things for those fish.

If you want to get things cleaned up you need to get the evidence together and make your case to the people who are in charge as they do not want to lose the money they have invested in the store. If they find out that their finances are being wasted this way they will do something about it and that is the bottom line. This is their property that is being wasted and until they are included in the issue no change will be made.

Rose
 

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Discussion Starter · #22 ·
Then chickadee, what can WE do? Like I said, many are jumping to big ideas first. Susancat wrote a letter to corporate offices before and got the manager fired. :)

Susancat, can you send me a PM, or post a reply on this thread of what you EXACTLY said? I think that composing a generic copy would be a good start in the problem-solving strategy. Please susancat, you have done and succeeded in doing this before. The people on this forum, inclucing myself, would benefit greatly, but more importaly, many fish of the future will thank you for your actions. :)
 

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I've had very good luck with the quality of the fish my closest PS carries. They are co-located with a great vet clinic who tends to the fish problems. All of the fish are looking good, with great survivability. It really does depend on the particular store and management, and what the public demands about the fish quality and care. I would hate to condemn every PS in the country. Some are good fish tenders, and some are not. When I visit their fish dept, I cheerfully help educate the newer staff. But I know our fishy friends there are well cared for. Wish all the chain stores took such interest in their livestock.
 

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Susancat, can you send me a PM, or post a reply on this thread of what you EXACTLY said? I think that composing a generic copy would be a good start in the problem-solving strategy. Please susancat, you have done and succeeded in doing this before. The people on this forum, inclucing myself, would benefit greatly, but more importaly, many fish of the future will thank you for your actions. :)
What I did was take pictures. You can either email these pictures or mail copies of them, but make sure you keep copies and records for your self.

I took pictures and dated them, at times I would do this 2 or 3 times a week for a month sometimes more. Dating the pictures each time. If I seen no change what I would do is write a letter stating how deplorable the conditions are and how I felt that the manager/or dept manager wasn't doing their job. and how the manager wasn't training their employees to do the job. I waited a week then went back, if the conditions were changing towards the better, I would let corp. know, If not they got more dated pictures and another letter. This time also telling them I would tell everyone that I know not to purchase anything from that particular store and I knew a lot of people.

I have even offered my skills to go in and train the employees in the care of the tanks and fish.

I know I have been lucky that I have managed to get a few people fired for the way they were doing. Lots of times they just don't care even if corporate comes down on them. But every once in awhile good does happen.

But to sound like a broken record, I would advise not taking this to a congressional level as it can and will shut down lots of the smaller stores, even down to the breeders who sell to the stores. They are already in the process of re writing this past bill to make it easier for actual fish keepers to get the fish they want, but if to much complaining done on how they are kept in a few in comparison to the many that do a decent job it will just make it easier for the old bill to pass. And I for one like to obtain my fish legally as opposed to black market.
 

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Jim personally I would keep the forum sponsership of it out as it could lead to problems for the forum. Chat is one thing but the involvement should be kept at a personal level as much as possible. I have seen this kind of stuff almost take out some good forums because of the legality of such issues.
Agreed... However Jarred will have the final ruling on that one. :)
 

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Susankat and chickadee-I also think that this forum shouldn't be involved directly on a sponsorship level. We certainly wouldn't want anything jeopardize it's existence. I suppose that decision is up to Jarred though. But I do think this is the perfect place for people to get together and talk this thing through to a point where we can write a letter. Nothing can really be done until we have a letter that succinctly states our position and past experiences with these pet stores and provides solutions to the problem.
Does everyone agree that a discussion night about this is the right way to start? We need to compile everyone's ideas somehow and I think that's a good way to do it.
 

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I see nothing wrong with individuals sending in mail on an individual basis with proof of what they are seeing like what Susankat is talking about but if they start getting form letters from everyone saying the exact same thing they are going to ignore them. Believe me I do know from previous experience. While you may make an outline of things you want to say, to be really effective you really need to have it be in your own words or they are going to think you are a PETA group just trying to push them around and that will be that.

I have been an advocate for fish before and an activist in my own way but I do not organize and let someone else speak for me because of this. The moment corporate chains start to see chain letters they begin to think of crackpots and that just turns them away from what you are saying. This is why petitions and such do not work anymore. Unfortunately organizations like PETA and those that make such fools of themselves have made it harder for the ones who are really well meaning to get anything across to the management and chairmen of these corporations with their ridiculous tactics. Just write a heartfelt letter with proof of what you are saying and do as Susankat said keep following up and make real solution suggestions not threats so much as solutions and they will be more likely to listen.

If they get 1000 letters from different people all saying something different about the care of the fish in one store they would pay much more attention than 10000 letters all saying the exact same thing word for word about the care of fish in that same store. Why? Because it would be obvious to them that 1000 people had noticed the actual care of the fish in that store, not that 10000 people had been told what to write on a piece of paper.

All I am saying is decide what you want to include for subjects like:

Dead fish in tanks
Sick fish in tanks
Dirty tanks
Fish that look like they have not been fed in weeks
Betta cups that have dead fish in them
Algae in tanks
Fish in tanks that are not compatible to be together
Tanks overcrowded

(I am guessing here so don't quote me) and then each of you choose three of the subjects but not more and write about it. That way all of your letters will have the topics but not all of them will be alike and yet there will be a lot of complaints. You will get your points across but not like a rubber stamp.

Rose
 

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Pleco n bn breeder n BOSS
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I agree with Rose, A form letter isn't going to have an affect on anything. Not even a petition as each store will be different and will have different problems that you will see. If you want to write to corporate, go to the store that you feel you need to write about. Take notes, take pictures what ever you deem necessary. Keep dates down. First go to the store manager and complain if you want. If he or she acts like they don't care, tell them you are going to contact corporate. Don't hide the fact that is what you are going to do. Write in your own words how you feel about the conditions and also state how the manager treated the problem, like if he didn't care. got mad or agreed with you. Once in a while you will find a manager that is willing to listen and try to do something about it. Offer your services to help teach employees or even the manager in the care of his live stock. You may be mildly surprised at the effort of some of those managers.
 

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Feel free to setup a time to chat about it in the chatroom and use the forum to its best capability. Or just keep talking about it on the thread, up to you guys really.
The stores often get sick fish shipments, it would be jumping to a conclusion to say that its the store's fault that they get sick. Often the stores will run coppersafe in the systems to prevent illness. Not that I agree or disagree with whats been stated so far, just something to consider as well. I worked for many years at a large LFS and we would go around every half hour taking out the deceased fish. By the time you get done with a round, there's more to go and fish out. The economy is pretty bad lately, maybe the stores cant afford to pay people to remove those fish the died, and it causes a chain reaction. See what you guys can put together..
 

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Discussion Starter · #31 ·
Ok guys, lets put it all together then.

Lets set up a time to discuss the problem and to talk about possible ways to deal with the problem.

Lets start to take this in our own hands and start to do something about this.

The fish will thank us. :)
 

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i have seen this problem too. it comes and goes at the petco where i live. somtimes its bad, somtimes good. what i hate is when you here other beginner aquarists come in and get advice about "why there fish are dying" from these teenage kids, and they give them terrible advice. ive actually interupted them a few times to give better advice. :)
 
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Ditto on our local PetCo (Portland, OR). AND if they treat the fish like this what about the cats, dogs, birds, reptiles, ferrets, gerbils, etc......???
 

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Discussion Starter · #34 ·
UPDATE: Just to remind everyone,tonight, Thursday, July 16, 2009 at 8:30 P.M. E.S.T, there will be a gathering in the chatroom about this problem. Please join us as we discuss ways on how we can put an end to the mis-treatment that these local pet chains are doing to the creatures that we love so much.
 

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Hi Guys,

this is Heiko Bleher from Italy and for those who do not know me, I hold (also) lectures around the world for that matter: the sick (in double sense) way of treating and keeping fishes MAINLY in US-Chain stores (little less in Canada) - it is a horror.

It this would be seen in any European pet store, they would close it.

This is really bad and does not seem to get any better, I feel it is getting wors all the time (saw it again in July in California stores - with one exception the family operated Rainbow Pet Shop on my website). many years ago I did a survey and I can show you hundreds of pictures it was BAD. In one Walmart store they carried me out and did not alow to take pictures - not a single tank has healthy fishes, in most of the were only dead ones floating.

I am sure, what some of you already mentioned, a letter to the head-office of such Chain store will be no good, useless, waste of time and energy. Individual approach as suggested by Rose is not bad, but than again for how long? Also the approach to the individual manager (probably the best - the direct approach is always the most successful) is very helpful, if you get a guy who will listen to you all. Unfortunately if he does, what happens when he is transferred to somewhere else?

On the other hand you all should also realize one thing not mentioned here at all: How much do you all want to pay for a fish? That is the main problem of all chain stores. And that goes to anything, not only fish. Everyone on this planet only wants (must) cut prices to attract customers. And if the customer does ONLY look for the price (as most of you do, or have to do) the chain store has to follow that trend and will (must) to survive. ONLY sales, offers of low prices (by 1 get 2; buy 10, get 2 free; 20 for only XX; clown loaches specials of the day/week; Lowest fish prices in the area; if you find another store with lower price money-back guarantee...). Don't we know that?

Are we not all to blame ALSO for these low quality, cheap fishes? How can a pet shop pay a "normal" price to the supplier/wholesaler/breeder and expect a healthy, acclimatised and well fed fish, if he cannot sell it above a certain price? If he has to compete with the next store? If he has to employ the cheapest untrained labor?

These are the facts as well and to change that, from the source, we, the hobbyist, must be prepared to pay for a live healthy animal a certain price. A live animal should NEVER EVER be on SALE, should never EVER be bargained, and should be respected, as we should respect each other as one-time-living creatures.

Many years ago I did this business (for 30plus years supplying tropical freshwater fishes to wholesalers around the world - to 86 countries) and saw around the globe the decline in quality, as people wanted everything cheaper and cheaper, as with everything else - BUT I tried very hard to explain to buyers around the world THAT WE ARE HANDLING LIFE STOCK, not nails or other dead merchandise. It was almost a lost battle. I founded the German Wholesaler Organization, than the OFI, Ornamental Fish International Association, to help the hobby, to bring good, quality fishes into the hobby. I worked for years again the TRANS-SHIPPERS (which started in the US and I claimed that this is causing the number one decline of the hobby, as fishes, which all need a minimum of quarantine, no longer had it and chain stores are getting week fishes and diseased ones...), but it was all lost time. The trans-shipping of fishes is number one in America, and almost around the world, as the people do not want to pay the price for a quality fish anymore...

And if you ask the chain stores, ALL of them will tell you the same: They never made money on fishes, they only have them to have the complete pet store line and they cannot invest in that side of it, as it is never profitable...

The number one thing, we still have in many parts of Europe, you find it in Japan and Singapore, in part in Australia and New Zealand, is to have the people who are willing to, pay the price for a healthy, quarantined fish.

I think you should also think of this side of the coin. Normally the evil is found at the source...isn't that also an American saying?

Think about it.

Always, and best regards from one who (I think and feel) was a fish sometime in a previous life-form, and will always think fish,

Heiko Bleher
Aquapress Bleher - Home
Aqua, International Journal of Ichthyology
 

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I just thought I would throw my two cents in... I will not shop at Petco anymore. First I bought a half-moon betta there (yellow with bright blue eyes, he looked very unhappy but perked up when I pulled him down from the highest shelf in the store, so I *had* to buy him) and within two days he had died. Turns out he was ill when I bought him and was never right. This was just after the death of my long time betta buddy Freud, and I have not had a male betta since.

The day I took Frank (the betta named after Ol' Blue Eyes himself), I wandered through the fish section because I had a $13 refund for Frank. I almost literally threw up. It was about noon. Obviously, no one working there had ever LOOKED in their fish tanks, as the guppy tank was horrible. There were literally 50+ dead guppies floating there, sticking to the filter. The few survivors were near death. I will remember that sight for the rest of my life.

I just don't buy from them anymore. Unfortunately, I have yet to find a good LFS here in Orlando near UCF, so I have been buying supplies from PetSmart and traveling an hour to my old LFS on the coast for stock. :(
 

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The appalling and horrifying conditions does not just happen at PS, i've seen this at many Wal-marts and local mom and pop store as well. I even took photos of the appalling conditions at my local Wal-mart and contacted Wal-mart watch( a group dedicated to refroming the caveman like policies of Wal-mart) via e-mail. Unfortunately you can write letters, send e-mails and even contact your senator but there's just too many big chain business that only care about profits and not the health of their stock. Petco puts aquarium salt in every FW tank to promote slime growth and extend the life of their stock until its sold, in most cases a little aquarium salt is a good thing once in a while but not all day every day 24/7. This is a huge problem and i've seen it discussed many times in many different forums with the end result of ppl just giving up on it and simply refusing to buy anything at the store. I personally think there's not much we can do as these big chain stores have numerous lawers and a huge amount of money to fight legislation and just brush it off like a mosquito. A few ppl or even thousands are not going to change the policies of these big chain stores, however i'm willing to do just about anything to bring this problem to the attention of our government and if any of you have a suggestion or want to stand on the White house steps and preach im all for it.

DION
 

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There should be some law that you need to treat your fish good at your store or else it will get closed. Good for you for speaking out. I really dont like petco and the only reason I go there is to get feeder minnows (the other petstores are a haul from my house). Those poor fish, how come if this happens to a puppy farm the farm gets closed down but when this happens to fish no body gets of their lazy seat to fix it.

*#666*#666*#666PETCO = DEATHCO*#666*#666*#666
 

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thats why my dad and i both refuse to go to petco for livestock. the problem is, they hire teenagers looking for a job that have no clue about how to keep fish and many other pets. one time, a girl at my local petco accidentally overflowed half of all the tanks and killed alot of fish just doing a water change!*n1

Haha!!!*r2*r2*r2 The people at DEATHCO are so stupid (sorry about the fish tho*frown) Once there was this really big guy there who would not let me get 3 tetras, he said only 2 or ALLLLL my fish would die (I was starting my first school) I called him a lazy pain in the u know what under my breath because he was too lazy.
 

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I have had luck before sending complaints to petstores about conditions. One time I complained about their treatment of hermit crabs at a specific store. I described the problem thoroughly, offered various solutions and proposed changes, and attached a detailed care sheet. I was called the very next day by the manager of that store who told me they were making the changes I was asking for at that very moment and was invited to come in and inspect the tanks to see if further changes were needed and if I was satisfied.
Tips for writing complaint letters or emails:

1. Be professional, respectful and courteous. Don't insult people or use vulgar or foul language, it will get you nowhere. Use correct grammar. Spell check and proof read. Include your name, home address, email address and phone number (consider the possibility of the manager calling and getting your voicemail and have the content of your voicemail message be such that they would take you seriously).

2. Be specific. Describe the problem(s) in detail. Offer reasonable solutions to each problem or alternative ways of doing things that are applicable to the store and the situation. Be sure to mention the time and date of your store visit, any individual you may have discussed the issue with in the store, as well as the address of the specific store. If possible, attach appropriate care sheets that describe the desired parameters such as temperature, pH, feeding, treatment/prevention of illnesses.

3. Describe consequences. Offer reasonable consequences, not as a threat but as a promise. Mention aquarium or other animal related communities, forums and chats you frequent and explain that you have posted your letter there, as well as a warning not to shop at the specific store. If your requested changes have been made within a set period of time, offer to relate to the community that the store has made the changes to your satisfaction and that the store can be shopped in once again.

4. Follow through. Do what you say you will, whether it is following through on a consequence, or you are invited to assist in the process, inspect or participate in any other way, including training of staff. Show up prepared, well dressed and knowledgable.

Here is a copy of the letter mentioned above, which you may use for ideas for your own complaint:

Outraged would be a mild description of my mental state after visiting the PetSmart store in Niles, Ohio. Even now, several hours later, I am horrified, disgusted and appalled. The conditions, under which the hermit crabs in this store are kept, have been less than acceptable for as long as I have been a customer, and past attempts to inform your employees of proper care have been ignored - except for the addition of some climbing items. Today, however, the conditions were absolutely sickening; I have never seen such disregard for life and outright cruelty to animals in any store I have ever been to. The first 5 hermit crabs I picked up were dead. All of them long enough to be stiff and foul smelling. One had been dead so long most of the face had rotted away and another so long it was merely a dark, mold covered mass inside the shell.
The employee, I have informed of the poor conditions in the past, came over to me and asked if I needed assistance, and I explained the situation and handed him one of the dead crabs to show him the severity of the situation. He told me the last shipment of crabs was poor and had been shipped in conditions that were too cold for the crabs. Then he said "I guess I need to clean up the tank" and walked away without immediately attempting to rectify the situation or removing the remaining dead crabs.
If the company that provides the crabs for this store has such disregard for animal life and welfare, I do not understand why PetSmart is willing to do business with them and support them financially by purchasing their crabs. The local Pet Supplies Plus in the same mall also carry hermit crabs and have the same species as PetSmart as well as more exotic species, and these crabs are obviously shipped under much better conditions and are also in shells that are suitable for hermit crabs contrary to the crabs at PetSmart. So in conclusion, I know PetSmart is not using the current supplier because there are no other options.
The tank conditions at this store are not suitable for hermit crabs, not even for temporary housing. There is no lid, no temperature and humidity gauges, no pools with water that the hermit crabs can bathe in and wet their gills for better breathing, not enough substrate, no proper food for the smaller crabs and the tank is in child height so anyone can pick up the crabs and mishandle them or drop them on the floor thus jeopardizing their lives and health.
The tank is very dry which is not acceptable. Hermit crabs breathe using modified gills and need high humidity to breathe. If the humidity is too low, as it is in the tank in this store, the crabs will suffocate and die - a slow and horrible process. It is inhumane and I refuse to believe a company like yours is willing to ignore such cruelty to animals and not take proper action when informed.
I expect to see the conditions in this store improved so that the hermit crabs have a chance at life instead of being cruelly mistreated as they are now.
I am a member of the Hermit Crab Association (HCA) which works to promote responsible hermit crab care and educate owners as well as merchants.
I have seen many complaints about PetSmart stores posted on our forums and have also discussed the issue with several other members. A number of our members have shared similar stories about PetCo and have in many cases sent complaints directly to the company. Many have reported positive improvements in the PetCo stores and have received direct contact information to their Customer Relations Coordinator who has encouraged them to report any future problems. I hope to see the same positive results and relationship between PetSmart and the members of the HCA.
Until the conditions under which the hermit crabs at PetSmart are kept have improved and are brought up to a reasonable standard, I will take my business elsewhere and encourage friends, family and fellow HCA members to do the same.
I will be reporting the conditions at this store to the HCA and post a copy of this letter on their forum. I hope that I, with your cooperation, can send an update to the HCA with the positive results and tank improvements at the store very soon.
Below is a copy of the Hermit Crab Care Sheet approved by the HCA. I hope it will serve to assist in the education of yourself, your employees and your customers.
I will be happy to assist in improving the conditions of the tank as well as the education of your employees. If necessary I will gladly come to the store myself and show the employees how to set up and maintain the tank and I am of course willing to answer questions or assist in any other way necessary.
 
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