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SB1357 Passed the Assembly Committee!  (6/19/02)

Everyone had their 'two minutes or less' pitch prepared to deliver. It was a hurry up and wait morning. Because Senator Vincent was still recovering from heart surgery, his lead aide was the one to present the bill. The committees give preference to the actual legislative members who are there, so any aides get bumped to the bottom of the list. We were the last bill to be heard before lunch. When we all finally got up to testify, they saw how many of us there were and asked us to please just introduce ourselves and say who we represented. 

Debbie Ducommun introduced herself as the Rat Lady with the Rat Fan Club. A couple of more people introduced themselves. Then one of the Assembly Members interrupted us before we could continue. He said, "Did you say RAT or RAP?" with a smile on his face. She said, "RAT." He said, "RAT as in R - A - T" with a shudder and look of disbelief. And then it turned into a very light and jovial atmosphere! Assembly Member Thomson started to talk about her pet rat from years ago and what great pet it was and how sad they were when it died and how they had a memorial service for it.

We finished introducing ourselves. They asked for opposition. There was none. They took a vote. It was out of committee!

We are not done yet, however. It still needs to go to Appropriations in the Assembly. Then it goes to the Assembly floor for a vote. Then it must go to the Governor for signature. We understand that our opposition will still be lobbying the Governor to veto the bill. We'll keep you posted when and if there is more work to do.

A BIG THANK YOU to EVERY ONE who sent in emails and/or faxes of support or called.

A special thank you to Debbie
Ducommun and her friend Barbara Henderson, Serafina Cupido (Josephine, online), Jackie Duboux, and April Yamaichi, in addition to the others who made very special efforts to be there yesterday.

And a special thanks to Beverlee McGrath who volunteers in a big way for the Doris Day Animal League. This woman walks on water in my book. Without her, this bill would never have had a chance. And she got her anti-freeze bill passed through the Senate Judiciary Committee yesterday, which if it gets signed into law eventually, will require California to have a bittering agent added to anti-freeze in this state which will save the lives of countless pets and wildlife and children!

While we had a good day, yesterday, and from this little story, it might sound easy and common "sensical" to get good things done, believe me, it is the farthest thing from easy or obvious on getting good things done. Being involved in this bill has a been a supreme learning experience!

SB1357 Details

HSUS Releases Groundbreaking Report

Reptiles As Pets -- An Examination Of Trade In Live Reptiles In U.S.

"HS of the United States, the nation's largest animal protection organization, today released a landmark report that advises against the keeping of reptiles as pets. The organization has also called on the Food and Drug Administration to ban the sale of live reptiles as pets in the United States."

This is great news for "feeder mice and rats," as well as guinea pigs and rabbits all over the country. Many pet stores keep rats and mice in squalid, extremely overcrowded, inhumane conditions and get away with it because they claim them to be "feeders" for reptiles. Also, other small animals, including guinea pigs and rabbits, are fed to reptiles in some pet stores just for the "fun" of it, or when they are sick. This news is definitely a step in the right direction.


Pet Club #7, San Jose (9/21/01) (updated 9/22/01)

Here are the facts as reported by Kara:

Pet Club #7
5625 Snell Avenue
San Jose, Ca  95123
(408) 363-6068
Manager:  Sarah and Fernando  ( I spoke with Sarah)
On:  Friday, Sept. 21, 2001
At:  7:00pm


Guinea pigs in unhealthy conditions
6 pigs in a 1 1/2 x 2 foot cage.
One water bottle which was BONE DRY!!!!
Housed on plastic slotted trays with pine shaving UNDER trays
No bedding for pigs to walk or lie on
Cage was filthy
No hay
Appropriate grain, but needing to be changed
1 sow housed with 5 boars!!
1 boar with an ear tag

Action I Took: 

I spoke to Sarah and offered to make the necessary changes with her or I would report the incident.  I told her that it was reportable.
I also took pictures of the boar's cage and sow's cage.

What They Did:

Sarah told me that Timothy hay was just a "treat."
In order to give the boars a second water bottle, 1 water bottle was taken out of a rabbit's cage.  When I checked the rabbit's remaining  water bottle, I discovered that it too was BONE DRY! So now, the rabbit had no water.
When the boars discovered that they had water,
they were literally fighting to get a drink.  They were fighting each other at the sipper tube and in general.
Moved the sow to a wire bottom cage.  I told them, "no."  They said it was just "temporary."


Store was closing so I left, but said I would be back tomorrow to see how the cages looked.
Contacted Teresa Murphy of www.cavyspirit.com.
Will contact Santa Clara Humane Society on Sat. Sept 22, 2002. Contacted, left msg as they are closed over the weekend.

On:  Saturday, Sept. 22, 2001    

Sow is in an appropriate cage with NO wire bottom 
Sow had 1 water bottle WITH water
Sow had a hay rack with SOME hay
Sow had a big carrot in the grain bowl along with grain
6  boars today although I only counted 5 last night.  Not sure what happened there.
Boar's cage had the plastic trays removed. They were housed on pine shavings.  Clean enough, but not enough bedding to suit me.
The boars had 2 water bottles WITH water.
Boars had a hay rack that was put up too high, so I moved it.  It had SOME hay in it.
Boars had a big carrot in the grain bowl along with grain.

Overall, there were no major problems.  If I had seen the cages look like this last night I probably would not have had a huge problem with it.  I still do not like 6 boars in that small cage.  The animals seemed less stressed.  It was sad to see the sow all alone.  She's a cute brown teddy and I am sure she will be sold soon, pregnant or not.  I talked to the mgr and told her that I was there and that I noticed the changes that had been made.  Also told her again that the sow may well be pregnant and she said again that she may not sell her. We'll see. I am going to go back again mid-week and see how things are. 

Monterey, California RESCUE (8/29/01)

Beautiful copyrighted photo of some of the Monterey guinea pigs  -  sunlight.jpg (34183 bytes)350 guinea pigs were rescued from a breeder who had been evicted from their home. They called the SPCA of Monterey to take their guinea pigs. These people had been breeding guinea pigs for biomedical research for 30 years. Most of the females are pregnant. The SPCA is neutering the males. The conditions that the animals had been kept in were not awful. There were groups of females with one male each housed in approximately 3' x 6' pens in a barn. Some of these guinea pigs go back 90 generations! They supplied multiple labs and universities. We can only guess what kind of atrocities the relatives of these animals have suffered over the years at the labs. These cavies were not raised in a pristine, highly controlled environment as some are in the big commercial breeding facilities that supply guinea pigs for research. 

Take action 

A number of the hopefully non-pregnant females have already been adopted. Boars are being neutered, mothers continue to have babies, and Monterey continues to need help with donations for supplies and food while they care for them and find them good homes.

Most are going to need special attention to diet and skin care with a vet visit.

To see the piggies, check out the photo album after our visit on September 1. These photos were take at the SPCA in Monterey after they had been there for two days. Two of the piggies are at Cavy Spirit and two are in a foster home (one has already given birth to three), 19 are with Sharlene's rescue in Hayward.

They need donations and supplies. As they have the space, they are not desperate to find homes, but do need support to maintain the piggies while vet care is administered and good homes are found.

Please contact: Lisa Giesick, Humane Educator
SPCA of Monterey County
P.O. BOX 3058
Monterey, CA 93942-3058
SPCA Website: www.spcamc.org
Phones: Toll Free (877) 477-2262 ext. 236
Monterey (831) 373-2631 ext. 222

The story has been covered by CNN as well as local TV coverage! 

Pet Club in San Mateo (09/12/2001)

Cavy Spirit Business at Pet Club
We have been spending a fair amount of money at Pet Club of late, especially since Cell-Sorb has been unavailable. We probably average $300+/week. Sometimes more when we need miscellaneous supplies like cozies. We have had our rescue poster up in that store for a long time. We have been patronizing Pet Club AND recommending them because they DIDN'T carry animals.

Sunday, 9/2/01
Received a call from one of our adopters that they had guinea pigs in a small animal room, that they started carrying them 3 weeks ago, and that they were in DISGUSTING, DEPLORABLE conditions. 2 Adult females, looking ragged, in a 10 gallon filthy aquarium with flies everywhere. Another pair of males in a larger, but wire bottom cage with CEDAR shavings underneath the wire, with HAMSTER food in the bowl, and FLIES everywhere. Of course, the whole room STINKS.

PetClubPigs2.jpg (19548 bytes)We (Teresa and another fosterer who happened to be visiting) went over there within the hour. Based on the complaints and insistence by the other person, they changed the 10 gallon aquarium to a 20 gallon aquarium with new pine shavings (photo to the right is the females in the newly cleaned 20 gallon aquarium). We took photos, complained to the store manager, asked them to call the owner and/or district manager. ALL of the guinea pigs clearly had mites. The females had bite wounds. And that was only from a very cursory exam and only picking up one animal.

PetClubPigs1.jpg (17151 bytes)We were told we should not be taking pictures, and that we should complain properly--that was based upon a phone call placed to a manager or corporate store while we there. While there were some positive discussions, and promises of correcting the situation, we remained doubtful as the to the outcome. They promised that by the end of the day they would "fix" the cages. Fine, we left. You can check out the PHOTOS on our Pet Club Photo Album page.

Shortly after we returned home, we received a phone call from the district manager saying we had no right to "pick up" the animal. After a long and interesting conversation, the district manager agreed to meet with me (Teresa) at the store on Thursday to discuss matters. He said that the sick animals would be 'returned.' He said they would 'return' them on Tuesday. Pet Club owns several other stores in the Bay Area. When PetCo (a different chain) has sick animals, they frequently shift them to other stores when local people and animal control officials know that they are sick. They will sell them sick to unsuspecting customers at the other stores. 

When our foster person went back to the store at the end of the day, the females had disappeared. The two males on the wire bottom cage were put in the small SuperPet plastic cage. Did they have the bigger SuperPet cage available and in stock to open up and give to them? Yes, they certainly did. Did they choose to give them the larger cage? No, they did not. They did, however, put them on CareFresh and changed the food to guinea pig food.

Both the foster person and the original person who saw the situation, called Peninsula Animal Control to complain about the situation that afternoon.

Here is a link to some photos taken Sunday, September 2, 2001. 

Tuesday-Wednesday, 9/4-5/01
No response from Animal Control. Monday was a holiday.

Thursday, 9/6/01
Repeated attempts to find out the status of the situation from Animal Control, especially, prior to my scheduled meeting with the District Manager of Pet Club before Thursday 6pm. Finally found out Animal Control was going out during the day Thursday. I arrived at Pet Club Thursday 5:30pm. No District Manager. Hadn't been there at all the entire day. They had switched the small SuperPet cage back to the wire-bottom cage with CareFresh underneath the wire. Only the two males were there. They said that Animal Control told them to do it that way! hmmm

So, since it was prior to 6pm, I drove up to the Peninsula Humane Society to hopefully talk to the Animal Control Officer about allegedly recommending a wire-bottom cage--a known health hazard for guinea pigs. She wasn't there, but I was able to discuss the situation with small animals adoption coordinator.

Friday, 9/7/01
Animal Control officer gets in touch the foster person. She calls me, I call the Officer. It turns out that the Animal Control officer found the condition of the remaining cage to be disgusting AND TOO SMALL! She told them to change it. She did NOT tell them to use a wire bottom cage. She thought the pigs did not look well, but not being an expert, gave them a mandatory citation to take the guinea pigs to a vet within 5 days. When I asked the 'store manager' about the guinea pigs on Thursday evening, he said they were taking them to a vet! Didn't mention a mandate to do so, of course. And I was asking about the missing two and he was telling me about the remaining two!

Still on Friday, 9/7/01
I received a phone call from a woman who wanted a cage from me and wanted to know about spaying a female guinea pig. It turns out she BOUGHT two baby guinea pigs who were earlier (a couple of weeks ago) in the same 10 GALLON AQUARIUM with the now missing females. She was told they were both males. She bought them because she felt so sorry for them, she went back to get them the next day. Little did she know at the time that they were both mite infested, and one was a female and possibly pregnant--which makes it a very high risk pregnancy due to being too young and inbreeding!! This also means that it is possible that the other two females may be pregnant. She had to take the guinea pigs to the vet. She now needs to get the male neutered in a couple of months, keep them separated until he is old enough to be neutered, and hope that the female isn't pregnant.

Sunday, 9/9/01:

Animal Control paid another visit to Pet Club to check up on them. Animal control them they were watching them and if they were going to carry these animals they had to do it right. Told them about the bad press on the website. Apparently, CareFresh was put over the wire on the wire bottom cage.

Monday, 9/10/01:
We received a call at Cavy Spirit from Pet Club, late in the day. They couldn't find a vet who would see guinea pigs and wanted to know if we had any suggestions. Gave them Herbert and Nakamura.

Wednesday, 9/12/01:
Went to visit Pet Club. The rats, mice, hamsters, and bugs were moved from the 'main' back room to the small room off the back room. This room has no ventilation other than the door into it. They had a fan going. These animals were stinking in the main room. In the main room they had more ventilation and at least some indirect natural light. It remains to be seen how well they will be kept in this room. 

The main room now has bird cages, empty and waiting for birds. I asked the store manager where they were planning on getting the birds from. He didn't know.

The two male guinea pigs supposedly went to a vet. Chris, the store manager, didn't know the status. Were they treated? He didn't know. He said they were planning on returning them back to the distributor on Tuesday, just like the other two females. He wouldn't let me look at them. The good news is, they are no longer going to carry guinea pigs. Chris said, "We're not going to carry guinea pigs no more." Why? "I don't want to deal with the heat." I asked about rabbits. No, nothing big, he says. He doesn't want the complaints. It has absolutely nothing to do with the animals, of course, just the hassle.

In the back room, there was one very sad, lonely looking little young hamster on a wire bottom cage over cedar. Who is going to care about the rest of the rodents and the birds when they get there?

I feel bad for the guinea pigs that will end up in another store in similar circumstances or worse, or having to survive the awful trip back to Fresno.  

Now waiting for a final update from Animal Control on the status of the vet report.


To read more about pet stores, please see our Pet Store page.


News Highlights


No More Reptiles!

Pet Club, San Jose

Monterey Rescue

Pet Club, San Mateo

Shelters in Crisis


Visit our Press page for Cavy Spirit in the News.


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