Public Outraged Over Petco Animal Deaths

By WBNG News

September 13, 2011 Updated Dec 5, 2013 at 10:08 AM EDT

Dozens of animals at Petco are dead after employees failed to bring them to safety during the flood last week.

Now, neighbors in the community are lashing out at the pet store for their inaction.

According to People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, PETA, nearly 100 animals died in the Petco on Harry L. Drive in Johnson City in the plaza next to Toys R Us.

PETA is now launching an investigation into this incident.

Petco says store team members checked on the store shortly before midnight last Wednesday.

They thought everything was good to go.

Team members checked again early Thursday morning and the store was flooded with four feet of water and they couldn't get in.

Action News spoke with Broome Country District Attorney Gerald Mollen.

He says the Binghamton -Johnson City Police Chief, Joseph Zikuski, is gathering information to decide if criminal charges are appropriate.

Neighbors say Petco turned their backs on animals that depended on them.

Ticia Eaves says she is shocked and disgusted.

"Those poor animals didn't have a choice. It was up to the humans to get them out and they didn't," says Eaves.

She took her sentiments to Facebook, creating a Boycott Petco page.

With nearly 9,000 likes, it's clear thousands across the Twin Tiers share her outrage.

"I'm surprised they didn't have a better evacuation plan knowing, history wise, this area has flooded before. It flooded in 2006. They were warned," she says.

Despite highly publicized river flood warnings last Wednesday,

Petco says it misjudged the risk of flooding at their store location.

Petco officials say they feel terrible that they did not do more to avoid this tragedy and accept full responsibility.

But PETA isn't buying it.

"Petco is a multi-billion dollar company. They absolutely had every resource available to them, countless times more resources that the people of the Southern Tier. We managed to get to safety. There is no reason this company couldn't have gotten these animals out of harms way," says PETA representative Dan Paden.

Neighboring shelters such as the Humane Society in Binghamton had better luck than Petco.

They lost everything except their animals.

Karen Matson is the Executive Director of the Humane Society in Binghamton. She says they coordinated with the Red Cross to get help.

"We arranged to have our animals taken out of here through an animal rescue team and boats on Thursday night. But we had all of that in place. We were monitoring the situation so we knew we could get them out before it was too late," she says.

Residents say it's time to stand up to the pet store giant and leave them without a home in the Southern Tier.

"I don't want Petco here period. They did nothing to help the community when this happened and if they don't come back I'm very happy with that," says Eaves.

Many people are expected to show up at the Johnson City store on Friday.

There are other people that think this story is getting too much attention.

Several people commented on the WBNG Facebook page.

They say hamsters or reptiles losing their lives does not compare to people losing their homes and livelihoods.