On 10th June 2023, activists of the animal rights group Direct Action Everywhere (DxE) performed an open rescue operation of four mice and one betta fish from a Petco store on 16th Street in San Francisco, CA, while the activists were participating in the Animal Liberation March in the city. The so-called “feeder” mice are normally sold to be victims of live feeding by snakes kept as companion animals, while, according to DxE, Petco’s mistreatment of betta fishes has been well documented and challenged by animal advocates for years.
The organisation said that multiple employees at this San Francisco Petco have confirmed the live mice are commonly sold to be fed to predators. Additionally, activists say the mice sold by Petco are often housed in unsanitary conditions. They also said that betta fishes sold at Petco come from overcrowded, usually filthy breeding factories, where many suffocate during the pre-shipping sorting process and are shipped in stressful conditions without food.
Activist Celeste Esser, one of the animal rescuers, said, “I’m glad for these mice and fish who will finally get the care they deserve. The pet trade neglects their needs and treats them like decorations or live bait. As a society, we can do better than this and recognize animals’ rights.” Paul Darwin Picklesimer, lead organizer of the march and an animal cruelty investigator who was tried and acquitted last October for their role in saving the lives of two debilitated piglets on a Smithfields Foods farm in Utah, said, “Rescuing animals from situations of distress or exploitation should never be a crime. The real crimes are committed by these multi-billion-dollar animal exploitation industries that torture animals, exploit workers, and degrade the environment. San Francisco passed a resolution to support the right to rescue in June of 2020, and we’re marching to celebrate that and to call on the rest of the nation and the world to follow suit and help animals everywhere escape the horrors of being treated as property under the law.”