Petitioning Animal Welfare Act United States Department of Agriculture (USDA)

Neglected Leopard Geckos

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Hello! Animals are being seriously neglected and mistreated in pet stores! Is this news to you? Probably not. That is the problem! 

I am attempting to stop this abuse. Today (June 26th, 2017) I, Rachel Rogalski, witnessed three juvenile leopard geckos in the most upsetting state I have ever seen at the Petco in Edwardsville Illinois (address: 6631 Edwardsville Crossing Dr, Edwardsville, IL 62025). 

I recently bought two baby geckos at this exact location and from the SAME ENCLOSURE that I found these neglected babies in. This was extremely troublesome because it really hit home that -had I not bought my geckos- they could have been in this enclosure with these (essentially dying) baby geckos. I know some people will argue that they are not neglected and they are absolutely mistaken. I have done immense research in the health and maintenance of geckos and they are failing on just about every account. I will now list exactly what i saw and why it is absolutely abuse:

- The geckos I saw appeared dead (If i am able to attach a picture I will). Yes, this is subjective but their eyes were half-closed, bodies drooping over their hide and EXTREMELY thin, malnourished and lethargic. Yes geckos are nocturnal but they should be aware of the world around them- mine are. I know what malnourished geckos look like because I purchased mine from this Petco without knowing what I know now - they were also malnourished! In fact, the tail of one of the geckos I saw today had COME OFF. That's right - it was not on its body. This is a direct result of extreme stress / feeling threatened (source: http://www.drsfostersmith.com/pic/article.cfm?articleid=2485 In fact, juvenile geckos are most vunerable to disease and malnutrition when the tail falls off. So, it's interesting to me that the SKINNIEST gecko in the bunch was the one without its tail - shouldn't they be paying more attention to him and compensating? Additionally, WHO startled him to feel so threatened that it ejected its tail. This is an ISSUE. There is absolutely no other cause for tail loss than extreme stress or fear for its life - NOT OKAY.

- One of the geckos was also squished under the hide. Not only this, but there was only ONE SINGLE HIDE FOR THREE GECKOS. This in itself is mistreatment. For a single gecko, they need 75-80 room temperature, a dry/warm hide (90-100 degrees), a wet/moist hide for shedding and a dry/cool hide. They regulate their body temperature with these different hides - especially to aid in digestion. Again, they had one dry/warm hide for a THREE geckos. Not to mention that the day I bought my babies here, there was nearly 15 juvenile leos  in the same 10 gallon tank- WHAT?! In fact, here is the link to the petco page of the caresheet for geckos: https://www.petco.com/content/petco/PetcoStore/en_US/pet-services/resource-center/caresheets/leopard-gecko.html This shows that they KNOW what the geckos need but CHOOSE to neglect that need. Furthermore on this page, it mentions a basking area for geckos. This is false because geckos are not reptiles that bask at all - another error. 

- Therefore, Petco employees are NOT as qualified as they should be. I'm not saying they aren't intellegent, I'm saying they need to be WELL-VERSED in ALL the animals in their store. I should know the lack of knowledge of employees because I applied to work there. I was given a general knowledge MATH TEST. Yes, a math test for a pet store. Don't you think general animal knowledge should be assessed instead of in addition and word problems? I understand some basic math but I didn't not have one question regarding animals. Further, at my local Petco in Alton Illinois, they told me that sand was a good substrate for my baby geckos so I bought sand. Later, I found that sand can cause impaction which is a SERIOUS issue for geckos especially with juvenile geckos because they may eat the sand along with there meal - MORE ERRORS IN PETCO. 

- Moreover if you simply google pet store nightmares you find millions of hits... is this not reason enough to investigate? The geckos I saw today were all living a 10-gallon tank (a 10 gallon tank is the minimum for ONE GECKO by the way) with sand substrate and one single hide. Since ONE gecko requires multiple hides it wasn't surprising that they were all trying to lay in the same hide. They looked so miserable and they were BABIES. Juvenile leopard geckos need the most intense and involved care. 

All-in-all, gecko abuse in pet stores is REAL. There is no denying it and no reason for what I saw today. There aren't any excuses that justify this in an ethical way. We need to stop being obsessed with money and start being obsessed with pet care and health. After all, Petco is where the pets go, right? 



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