Friday, May 06, 2005 ______________________________________________________________________________

Stupid, Stupid People 

There was a report in yesterday's news that one Tom Peters, owner of Pet Habitat at Brentwood Mall, is charged with cruelty to animals. The charge was filed by the SPCA after they conducted an investigation following over 70 complaints over the last five years. The investigation turned up one bird with a broken leg and a sick puppy. If convicted, Tom faces a $2000 fine and a prohibition on keeping animals.

What a load of bullshit.

If you guys recall, I used to work for Tom in that nether period between my layoff from BC Hydro and my hiring at CallTrex. I worked Sundays there for a period of about four months, my last day of employment was Easter Sunday, 2004 (the mall wasn't open, but since that was when my 2 weeks notice culminated that's the official date). Not only was I an employee, I was also a loyal customer. I bought several fish from him, a cat, two fish tanks (complete systems), and more cat food than I'm willing to believe my cats consume.

So what's all this about animal cruelty? Bullshit.

First day on the job, the only thing I learnt was to be excessively attentive to the needs of the animals. Someone pooped? Drop everything you're doing and clean it up. Bird water looking dubious? Drop whatever you're doing (unless it's cleaning poop) and change it. Animal not acting like it usually does? Notify Tom and he'll get on it. I learnt how to attend to the specific needs of each animal. Like that stupid Bichon Frise which needs its eyes cleaned.

First day on the job, I also learnt where all the complaints were coming from. These are the same people who complain that animals in cages at zoos are tragically penned in, but all the same, pay admission to see these animals. Customers will look at puppies sleeping in their cages and conclude that they are bored and listless. The truth being that each of our puppies (we mostly stock toy breeds) having tired themselves out being tethered outside are now taking a needed nap. They will look at a cage where the toys are hidden from view by the puppy itself and complain that the puppies have no toys. They will look at the bird water in which husks have been scattered and conclude that the birds are drinking dirty water (empty husks of seeds do not dirty water. Water is changed twice a day unless birds poop in it, then it's changed right away). Since all these complaints are really a result of ignorant people who need a cause to feel important, we went about our business, continuing to maintain the high standard of animal care that Tom regularly enforced. This is not to say that we ignored complaints. All complaints were filed and looked into. All I'm saying is that there hasn't yet been a valid complaint that wasn't addressed immediately.

Tom's commitment to animal care is not just evident in the procedures he makes his employees adhere to. It is also clear in the brands of food he chooses to stock and feed his animals. Tom researches the pet food he stocks to ensure that his customers are walking away with the best possible diet for their pets. In contrast to other pet stores I have been a patron of, he also feeds his animals this high quality feed as opposed to a cheaper brand which is not as beneficial for his animals. This behind-the-scenes footwork is admirable to say the least, especially when considering that he is running business after all.

Now let's address the specific instances quoted in the charge. The bird with the broken leg was not left alone in a cage with other birds, ignored. On the contrary, the bird was isolated and under observation. There is little you can do with a bird with a broken leg, and the bird was receiving special attention while the next course of action was being decided upon. The charge makes it sound alot worse, doesn't it?

How about the sick puppy?! Let's not forget the sick puppy! Oh fuck the sick puppy. Sure it was sick, but it was isolated and being treated with antibiotics as was appropriate for the symptoms it was demonstrating. It is only after this course of action is seen to be ineffective for two weeks that there is a need for the puppy to be brought to a vet. In fact, after the charges were levied, Tom brought the goddamn puppy to the vet and the vet said that Tom was taking the right course of action and to see him after that requisite two weeks if the antibiotics was not working.

Tom is looking to have these charges dropped in court and I believe he will have no problem. The only thing I'm concerned about is negative publicity. This was all over the radio and newspapers. Tom just bought a new house and is in the proccess of renovating it. Any dip in business and he's going to be hurting. I like Tom and these charges are ludicrous at best. Any of you in the GVRD area go to his store and go sign something saying that you disagree with the charges. The more signatures he can bring into court, the easier his case will be.

Go Tom Go!


posted by Joie! at 9:41 AM

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