Images provided by United for Respect
PetSmart workers, in coordination with United for Respect and World Animal Protection, are exposing deteriorating store conditions resulting in mass animal deaths at the retail chain. The worker testimonials increase pressure on private equity firm BC Partners, whose ownership of PetSmart has been under Congressional scrutiny following a report from United for Respect, which revealed dangerous cost-cutting measures such as understaffing, animal overcrowding, and poorly maintained store conditions.
According to new reports by current and former employees organizing with United for Respect, which are supported by written testimonials, photo documentation, correspondences with management, as well as OSHA complaints, the chronic lack of staff and resources is undermining PetSmart employees’ ability to keep animals healthy and, in turn, harming their mental health. Increasing pressure to cut corners and reduce costs, following BC Partners’ acquisition of PetSmart in 2015, has created a work environment where workers’ concerns are routinely ignored.
Workers are coming forward to sound the alarm about deteriorating working conditions in their stores, the same unacceptable conditions animals lived and died in at PetSmart:
Lack of preparedness for extreme weather events: Abegale Fernandes, a former Merchandise Inventory Manager in Massachusetts, and Isabela Burrows, a current PetSmart Associate in Michigan, described frequent power outages and the lack of backup generators that subjected workers and pets to unsafe conditions, in complaints filed with OSHA and MIOSHA, respectively. Fernandes took reptiles into her personal care during a multi-day power outage after her store manager ignored a request for their transfer. Burrows worked through store temperatures that reached 90 degrees without any functioning cooling systems.
Trauma from mass deaths: The toll of not being able to adequately care for animals or protect them from death has been traumatic for PetSmart workers, who are first and foremost animal lovers. Whistleblowers like Oscar C., a current Pet Care Specialist in Arizona, recount freezers stuffed with months’ worth of dead animals, in violation of company policy that states animals cannot be left in the freezer for longer than a week. Compounding their trauma is PetSmart’s inadequate health care policy, which denies health care and mental wellness benefits to workers with part-time schedules.