DECEMBER 2012 UPDATE: The “bully breed classification” verbiage has returned to PetSmart’s Day Camp Requirements page.
JULY 2012 UPDATE: PetSmart has removed the “bully breed classification” verbiage from its website, but the company continues to enforce the ban. According to a July 18 update on the PetSmart BSL Intervention page on Facebook: “Big news! PetSmart is now hiding their policy of Bully breed discrimination by taking down their requirements page and anti-Bully Breed policy; however, if you call any PetSmart PetsHotel you will be told that the policy remains in full effect!”
Gremlin’s dog dad didn’t. Gremlin is a Pit Bull who was formerly used as a bait dog. Today, as a certified therapy dog, she comforts patients in nursing homes. Her Facebook page has more than 11,000 fans.
Last Friday, a post on Gremlin’s Facebook page regarding the ban said, “We are baffled by this, it is apparently a corporate policy. How can we change people’s views when huge pet-specific companies have this outlook. We asked the manager of the PetSmart we used to go to and he said it’s because PetSmart views them as unpredictable.”
In one of the 224 comments on the post, Kathryn Shelton wrote, “Unpredictable? I have met a yellow Lab that was unpredictable, a Golden Retriever that was unpredictable and lastly … a Basset Hound that was unpredictable. One ‘unpredictable’ dog of the breed does NOT make them all unpredictable. Shame shame shame on PetSmart!”
Stacey Gross commented, “The irony is they recently donated $1 million in Phoenix to help with spay/neuter programs for Pit Bulls in shelters, since they are the largest populations and the ones being put to sleep the most.”
It’s not just Pit Bulls who can’t be happy campers. According to PetSmart’s Doggie Day Camp policy, it only welcomes dogs “who have been socialized with other dogs but are not of the ‘bully breed’ classification or wolves/wolf hybrids.”
That “bully breed” classification includes “American Pit Bull Terrier, Miniature Bull Terrier, American Staffordshire Terrier, Staffordshire Bull Terrier, American Bulldog, Bull Terrier or mixed breed that happens to look like one of these breeds.”
Along with Gremlin’s dad, many of the people who commented were unaware of this policy, although it has been in place since at least July 2007. At that time, PetSmart released the following “Bully Breeds Safety in Group Play” statement:
“We have received responses both for and against our policy, and can appreciate the sensitivities and deep emotions behind them … When we developed our policy, it was with the deep knowledge and experience we’ve gained by associating with this breed of dogs in a variety of capacities and in understanding their history… This doesn’t change the fact that we believe Bully breeds can make great companion pets and can be a great addition to the right home. They remain welcome to visit our stores for other purposes.”
Perhaps Robert Moran, the president and CEO of PetSmart, is unaware that banning breeds has not proven to increase public safety. Blaming the breed instead of the deed has fallen out of favor over the past five years. Just this week, the state of Ohio ended its 24-year-old policy of labeling all Pit Bulls as “vicious.” And, after 20 years, Miami-Dade County in Florida is expected to drop its Pit Bull ban soon.
The Campaign to End PetSmart’s Pitbull Ban, started on Facebook in February 2011, has more than 500 fans. “We believe this policy is ill-founded, and only promotes the general misconception that Pit Bulls are dangerous and unwanted animals,” according to its Info page.
The Facebook community PetSmart BSL Intervention was created two years ago. Its Info page states, “As a leading pet retailer, PetSmart has a responsibility to end incorrect stereotypes, not perpetuate and expand them.”
The PetSmart corporate office can be reached by phone at 800-738-1385 or 623-580-6100, and by mail at 19601 North 27th Ave., Phoenix, AZ 85027.