SPCA halts adoption of exotic animals at Petco stores

ARLINGTON -- The SPCA of Texas asked Petco stores to cease adoptions Wednesday of 2,000 animals that had been removed from U.S. Global Exotics last year during the nation’s largest exotic-pet seizure.

The SPCA of Texas had given the hamsters, fancy mice, lizards, toads, snakes and other small animals to Wild Rescue Inc. of Texas, an animal welfare agency partnered with the Petco Foundation. The Star-Telegram reported Wednesday that Wild Rescue was making the animals available for adoption at 22 Petco stores in the Dallas-Fort Worth area.

The Petco Foundation, which provides supplies and support to animal welfare groups, was set to collect a nominal adoption fee on the animals.

“They were concerned that ...Petco and or the foundation are some how gaining benefit by the partnership,” said Kevin Whalen, a spokesman for Petco. “That’s not true. That’s not our intent. We’re extremely disappointed.”

The SPCA was aware of the nonprofit group’s plan to find homes for the animals through the pet store chain but stopped the effort Wednesday after learning that Petco required ownership of the animals to be surrendered to the stores, which violated the agreement between SPCA and Wild Rescue, said Maura Davies, SPCA spokeswoman.

“That gave the perception that the animals were going back into the pet trade industry,” she said.

The 2,000 animals were among the 27,000-plus seized by the city of Arlington Dec. 15 because of inhumane conditions found at U.S. Global Exotics, an international pet wholesaler. Earlier this month, the city turned custody of the animals over to the SPCA, which has placed many of them with zoos, animal sanctuaries and welfare groups.

The animals at Petco will be returned this week to the SPCA, which will continue working with Wild Rescue and other nonprofit animal welfare groups for permanent placement, Davies said.

“These animals will find loving homes,” she said.