Breeding facilities for small animals: obi bows to animal rights activists

Peta has published shocking footage of small animal breeding for middlemen. Now Obi reacts with a sales stop.

We are not all, the prisoners are missing! Photo: dpa

Overcrowded cages, moldy food, sick and dead animals in between: cruel images of mass breeding facilities show the approximately one and a half minute long video of the animal rights organization Peta. According to the animal rights activists, the footage comes from undercover research by the organization and shows alarming conditions at German and Dutch small animal farms.

Peta published the video on July 29 along with a petition calling on DIY store Obi to stop trading in animals such as hamsters, rabbits and budgies. "Animals have no business in a DIY store," stressed Peter Hoffken, a Peta spokesman. Most people seem to agree with the animal rights activists: Within a week, 50,000 people are said to have signed the petition against the sale of animals in DIY stores. Celebrities such as rapper Thomas D. and columnist Ariane Sommer also got involved.

Obi has now responded to the public pressure. The sale of small animals was stopped throughout Germany on August 4. In an official press release, it says: "Current events have prompted us to determine the phase-out of the sale of small animals for the entire company."

However, this is the DIY store’s belated reaction to the current accusations. Peta had already published pictures of animal cruelty in breeding farms and at wholesalers in April of this year. With the enterprises, whose order forms were found with appropriate enterprises, among them Fressnapf, Hagebau, Futterhaus and Dehner, they had entered at that time into contact. According to Peta, there has since been "a very constructive exchange" with all the major companies. At some places one had been even locally and had led personal discussions over the difficult situation.

Only Obi has kept a low profile since April, after a brief report. For Peta a reason to publish a renewed video to exert more pressure on the company. The animal rights activists hope that "the sales stop at Obi is a signal for other DIY stores and outlets selling small animals." At the same time, the end of the sale of animals in DIY stores should only be the beginning. The entire small animal industry seems to have problematic conditions.

"Guarded like high-security prisons".

In the course of its research, Peta visited 15 different farms in Germany and the Netherlands where small animals such as rodents and birds are bred for sale. Often the animals were crammed into tight cages or boxes and severely neglected. Against 12 of the breedings the organization placed now criminal complaint because of cruelty to animals.

As Peta spokesman Hoffken reports, however, this is only "the tip of the iceberg." Many breedings in the Czech Republic, which were "guarded like high-security prisons" could not enter the Peta employees. However, the spokesperson said, "it’s naive to assume that there are better conditions for the animals behind these walls."

Peta sees the problem not only in the way animals are kept in such breeding facilities, but in the mass production of small animals in general. The animals are to be sold for as much profit as possible and land then at the end again in Tierheimen. If one wants to do thus actively something against this form of the mass animal husbandry, then the animal protection organization guesses to look better in Tierheimen for new domestic animals than in the hardware store.