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PIJAC: Petco's Cambridge Store Closure Predicts Troubling Trend for Industry


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The Pet Industry Joint Advisory Council (PIJAC)  says Massachusetts lawmakers should pay close attention to the projected closure of a Petco store in Cambridge, Mass. 

According to a letter addressed to customers, Petco plans to close its store on 119 First St. in Cambridge, Mass., which has been open for nearly 20 years, on Jan. 27, 2018, because of a law that was passed in August against sales of certain animals. 

The ordinance did not ban the sales of animals, but said they had to come from shelters or a rescue organization. While Petco does not sell cats or dogs in its stores, and it ceased the sale of rabbits in 2008, the company is “committed to supporting the human‐animal bond by making responsibly‐bred companion animals available to our customers,” according to the letter. 

“Most Petco stores also carry a carefully selected variety of fish, reptiles, small birds and small companion animals (such as hamsters and guinea pigs), all of which are typically much harder to find available for adoption,” the letter continued. 

“We understand that the decision to pass this ordinance was based on the opinions of a select few, and does not necessarily reflect the wishes or sentiments of the entire Cambridge community,” wrote Petco officials. However, once the ordinance goes into effect, it will make more than 25 percent of the space in the Cambridge store “non-operational and and significantly impact labor and payroll for the passionate Petco partners who work here,” according to the letter. 

“Petco’s decision to close its Cambridge store reflects the many warnings Petco, PIJAC and other industry organizations gave to the City of Cambridge that its shelter-only store model is not workable,” said Robert Likins, PIJAC vice president of government affairs. “Petco’s letter makes clear that the Cambridge ordinance that became law in August 2017 is the sole reason for the store’s closure at the end of 2018.”

The Cambridge ordinance banned nearly all non-rescue, non-shelter sales of live animals at pet stores. 

Cambridge Vice-Mayor Marc McGovern told state lawmakers in October that despite the ban, he expected Petco to expand operations in the city. McGovern was testifying in favor of Senate Bill 1155 and HB 1080, and against HB 3212.

“State lawmakers should take this closure very seriously,” said Likins. “While Petco may have been planning to expand prior to the City Council’s decision, the new regulations apparently made that impossible. We believe that the Vice-Mayor was unaware of Petco’s decision, which was announced just last week, but it proves the industry’s warnings to be accurate.”

In addition to his statement about Petco, Vice-Mayor McGovern told lawmakers that Cambridge’s shelters can provide for the needs of Cambridge’s pet lovers. Likins said shelter website monitoring by PIJAC throughout 2016 “showed that there are not enough shelter animals statewide to meet the demands of Cambridge residents who desire to responsibly own a pet.” 

SB 1155 and HB 3212 have both passed the Joint Committee. Likins said PIJAC continues to urge lawmakers to adopt HB 3212 and to reject SB 1155. “HB 3212 holds breeders, stores, shelters and rescues accountable while ensuring pet lovers have access to the healthy pet that meets their needs,” said Likins. “This contrasts sharply with SB 1155, which is overly burdensome, risks closing some of America’s best pet stores, and fails to provide appropriate oversight of shelters and rescues.

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