Rachel and I went to a local pet store, Village Pet Centre, to pick up some eye drops for one of our cats, who's had some eye irritation over the past few days. While there, we checked out the pets for sale, not with an eye to buying them, but just to spend a moment looking at cute fuzzy things.
That's when we noticed the hamster with the bleeding hind foot. We called over an employee and told him about it.
"Huh. Nothing I can do about it," he said. He looked closer to make sure that the hamster still had all his toes, said that the little thing had probably gotten its foot stuck between the bars of the cage and had ended up biting it, but nope, there was really nothing he could do. He wandered away to continue doing whatever he'd been doing.
Yes, there was something he could do. He could take the hamster from its cage, clean off the foot, apply a bit of Polysporin (it's suitable for animals as well as humans), and clean the cage of the blood that was smeared on the bars, bedding, and food bowl. It's not rocket science; it's basic animal first aid. If he wasn't trained in it, that's not much of an excuse either. The store should train employees in basic animal care, and the employee at least should have thought to call someone over who did know how to do what needed to be done.
If it wasn't for the fact that our cat needed the eye drops pretty badly, we would have walked out right there and then, but neither of us could justify causing yet another animal additional suffering on principle like that. The only other pet store in the city that we know doesn't mistreat their animals was too far out of the way to get to at that point, clear across the city and off a bus route.
Needless to say, Village Pet Centre will no longer be getting our business, and we plan to write a letter to management about this incident. For the mistreatment of a $20 hamster, they have now lost potentially a few hundred dollars from two customers, and I have no problems with spreading the world about what happened today.
I beieve in treating animals properly, in acting as though they have as much worth to a comfortable and happy life as any human does. This was a blatant violation of what I hold dear to my heart, and might even be something the SPCA should hear about. It's neglect, pure and simple. Willful neglect of animal pain.
My heart goes out to that hamster. Believe me, if I had the money, we'd have brought the little guy home with us so we could take care of him. Apparently we have more knowledge of how to do that than the guy whose job it is to do so.