During the "Rent-a-Chick" promotion that's been held each spring for the past 15 years at Steve's Wonderful World of Pets in Williamsville, N.Y., customers can take home chicks for two weeks and return them to the store after Easter.
The store owner, Steve Lane, says the promotion prevents people from buying "disposable pets" this time of year and is a wonderful tradition. "I think this chick rental thing is a good thing," he said. "It's a great thing for families with young children."
The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and local SPCA disagree.
Because of Salmonella concerns, the CDC advises, "Don't let children younger than 5 years, adults older than 65, or people with weakened immune systems from conditions such as cancer treatment, HIV/AIDS or organ transplants, handle or touch chicks, ducklings, or other live poultry."
The promotion is also unsafe for the very fragile young chicks. For about $40 and a $10 deposit, customers who rent them are given a container with medicated food, bedding, a water bottle, and a clamp lamp with a heat bulb – but do they have any idea how to properly care for these little creatures?
The SPCA Serving Erie County has previously stopped Steve's Wonderful World of Pets from renting chicks that had been dyed, which is illegal in New York state, but it can't stop the Rent-a-Chick promotion because the store is taking advantage of a loophole in a state animal welfare law.
The law prohibits the sale, bartering or giving away of live chicks – but says nothing about renting them. Steve's Wonderful World of Pets "appears to value novelty and legal loopholes over animals' lives," the SPCA said in a statement.
The Rent-a-Chick promotion is cruel and only teaches children that animals are playthings that can be easily disposed of. Please sign and share this petition telling store owner Steve Lane to stop this tradition that's far from "wonderful."
Photo credit: MSphotos