PETA demands PetSmart stop animal sales after hamsters tortured in Kelowna | iNFOnews | Thompson-Okanagan's News Source

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PETA demands PetSmart stop animal sales after hamsters tortured in Kelowna

Image Credit: PETA
June 11, 2020 - 5:00 PM

An international animal rights group is calling on a popular pet retailer to stop selling animals, alleging they sold three hamsters to a Kelowna man who allegedly tortured and killed them on video.

People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, or PETA, claims it helped alert police to the videos that resulted in the arrest of a 20-year-old man on charges of causing unnecessary pain and suffering to an animal. 

“We’re calling on PetSmart to try to prevent acts of cruelty like this from ever happening again—and the only foolproof way for it to do that is to stop selling animals,” PETA said in a statement.  "PETA’s Emergency Response Team received complaints about the man’s disturbing videos and provided law-enforcement authorities with extensive forensic research that helped in tracking him down."

The organization alleges that the pet store chain will sell animals to anyone who pays and that the accused posted online about purchasing the hamsters from PetSmart. PETA sent a letter to PetSmart’s CEO J.K. Symancyk, requesting immediate action, according to its statement.

“Given that PetSmart claims to 'love pets' and that Symancyk wants to 'be the trusted partner to pets and pet parents,' let’s hope the company will take immediate, concrete action to ensure that such a horrific incident will never recur if it can help it,” according to the statement.

READ MORE: Kelowna man arrested for alleged hamster cruelty

Leighton Allen Labute, 20, was charged last month with three counts of killing or injuring an animal and three counts of causing unnecessary pain/suffering to an animal.

A video depicting the torture and killing of three hamsters was posted on the social media platform Reddit, prompting the internet community to alert the police May 14, 2020, Kelowna RCMP said in a release. Following an investigation, Labute was charged May 22.

The incidents were alleged to occur on or around May 1, 2019.

PetSmart could not be immediately reached for comment.

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