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Petco to Settle California Lawsuits

The pet chain will pay more than $900,000 over claims of mistreatment and overcharges.

May 28, 2004|From Associated Press

San Diego-based Petco Animal Supplies Inc., the nation's No. 2 pet supply chain, will pay more than $900,000 to settle two lawsuits that accused the company of mistreating animals and overcharging customers.

The settlements announced Thursday resolve both a lawsuit against the chain brought by district attorneys in four California counties and a separate action filed in 2002 by San Francisco's city attorney.

In San Francisco, city inspectors and customers documented sick and dying animals kept in freezers; untreated animals with contagious diseases; animals in unclean enclosures with no water; freezers filled with dead birds; and reptiles and fish left dead in display tanks, according to City Atty. Dennis Herrera.

A four-year investigation by district attorneys in Los Angeles, San Diego, Marin and San Mateo counties found that animals were kept in unclean cages and lacked proper nutrition and veterinary care, said San Diego Deputy Dist. Atty. Tricia Pummill. The district attorneys' investigation also found that Petco price scanners overcharged on certain items by an average of $1.19, she said.

Petco, which admitted no wrongdoing as part of the settlements, agreed to pay fines totaling $600,000. The company also will spend more than $200,000 to install improved pricing accuracy equipment at all its California stores and more than $101,000 to cover the costs of the district attorneys' investigation.

Over the next five years, Petco will conduct daily inspections of pets for sale at all of its California stores and ensure that the animals are kept in clean cages with adequate food and drink. Customers who are overcharged in the future will receive discounts of up to $3 off the overpriced item.

Petco, which reported $1.65 billion in sales for the 12 months ended Jan. 31, has 670 stores in 44 states and Washington, D.C.

Shares of Petco closed down 13 cents at $31.87 on Nasdaq.

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