After PETA campaigned against PetSmart’s main competitor, PETCO, the company agreed to stop selling most large species of birds, to work with rescue groups to adopt out homeless birds, and to recommend flight cages, which are roomy enough for birds to fly in, but PetSmart has yet to take any such significant steps.
Despite numerous letters and meetings with PETA representatives, PetSmart continues to sell tens of thousands of birds and other animals every year to people who may know little to nothing about proper care. In the wild, birds preen each other, fly together, play, “talk” incessantly, and share parenting tasks. If they are separated from their flock even for a moment, they call wildly to their flockmates. But birds kept as “pets” are often confined to tiny cages, denied the companionship of other birds, and deprived of the opportunity to fly. Driven mad by loneliness and boredom, they can become neurotic and self-destructive, pulling out their feathers, incessantly screeching and bobbing their heads, pecking frantically at cage bars, and shaking or even collapsing from anxiety.
Many parrots and other birds are bred in crowded, cage-filled warehouses, where they frequently live in squalor, unable even to stretch out their wings. Babies may be taken away from their mothers before they can even feed themselves. Birds are also still illegally captured in forests and smuggled out inside socks, shoes, small boxes, or even toilet paper rolls. Many die before reaching their destinations.