Occasional Visitor

Petco Employee Aggressively Bullied False Information

[ Edited ]

Hello.  I would like to share an incident which occurred within one of your Petco stores on 8/07/2017.  I understand it has been about a month and two weeks since the incident, but as I continue to educate myself and speak with professional experts (my vet, other vets, breeders, etc.), I have found myself even more disgruntled about what transpired in your store, and had to inform you on what false information your employees are telling their customers.  I should also mention that both my husband and I have over 10 years of retail management experience; my husband being a leading Store/General Manager within a extremely popular Fortune 200 brick-and-mortar retailer, and myself as a District Manager of the same company, so we know exactly what kind of customer service should be expected from a company like Petco.


This all transpired at the 59 Vervalen Street ,Closter, NJ 07624 location.  My husband and I were in to purchase a collar and identification tag for the puppy we were adopting from a nearby rescue.  A member of the staff was attentive enough, pointing out where the collars were and asking us if we needed any further help.  The employee continued to engage us by asking us questions about our new puppy.  We told him the breed, and mentioned the rescue where we were adopting, and how old the puppy was (9 weeks old).  He gave us some helpful information, about training classes at Petco and the Vet who comes on weekends to administer vaccinations, etc.  He actually mentioned he was a trainer himself (and was wearing the trainer shirt).  I replied that the rescue actually takes care of everything, vaccinations, etc., but the training classes were something we were definitely interested in.


When it was time to check out, the employee who was originally helping us, another gentleman behind the register, and another female employee (I did not catch her name, but she had multiple facial and nose piercings) were all engaging with us and excitedly asking us questions about our puppy.  Again, the female employee handed us a pamphlet about the weekend vet and started to explain the vaccinations, neutering, etc. (she was not around when the other employee has explained this to us).  This is when things completely turned on us.


I thanked her for the information, and again explained the puppy was coming from a rescue and he would already be vaccinated and neutered when we pick him up.  The male employee looked puzzled and asked, "Didn't you say the puppy was going to be 9 weeks old when you pick him up?" I answered yes, and all three employees started in about how someone should not, and cannot, neuter a puppy prior to 6 months old.  


The female employee with the piercings got very aggressive, stating over and over again that it was ILLEGAL in the state of New Jersey to neuter a dog prior to 6 months.  She said "it was basically ANIMAL ABUSE".  She said, "it would be as awful as getting a baby's tonsils out... abuse!"  She kept going on and on about how what we (my husband and I) were doing was illegal and abusive. I fell silent because I was not sure if she was correct or not and because this was the first time we had ever rescued a puppy, but more so silent because of her anger and frustration and aggressiveness towards us.  I tried to explain a few times it was the rescue, and not our decision, but she kept going on and on addressing my husband and I, as if we were the ones making this decision.  At one point, she and the other employee turned to another customer who was making a purchase at the register and attempted to get her involved!  They turned to her and asked, "Have YOU ever heard of a 9 week old puppy being neutered?!?!!!" The customer looked uncomfortable being dragged into the female employee's rant, and I am sure she could see how uncomfortable I was. The customer replied, "I personally haven't, but maybe you should just talk to your vet and find out if this is common." Then the female employee stated, "Maybe we should call Blue's owners and ask them!  They will tell you!"  


At this point I was shocked and embarrassed.  Not only did they drag one customer into this, they were about to call another CUSTOMER at their home and bother them about this!  Is this the kind of "customer service" Petco fosters; bothering other customers by calling them on their personal cell phones to make comments and statements that only a professionally trained, degree holding veterinarian should be making?


I just wanted to pay and leave at this point, but the female employee was standing very close to us and still arguing right in our faces (arguing with herself, mind you, because my husband and I were not really replying to her at all).  As we were being rung out, she continued to talk about how it was illegal and abusive to her other employees and how mad she was, etc., etc. After paying we thanked the cashier and left.  


I was SO upset.  I was embarrassed by the employee's harshness on the matter, I was worried that she was right and this rescue would hurt our puppy, I was scared for the safety of the puppy, and I was worried that we were not doing the right thing, even though it was completely out of our control.


As we got home, I called my veterinarian and asked about early neutering.  I also brought the puppy to him the day we got him (the day after the puppy's neutering). I've done research since, and have spoken to my vet, other vets, and breeders on the subject.  I have also been to New Jersey's official government website and the American Veterinary Medical Association's website as well.  This is what I have learned:


Neutering puppies at a young age, as much as it is not as common as neutering at 6 months - 1 year, is completely safe and rescues and breeders do it all the time.  It is not illegal in the state of New Jersey, and in fact, in March of 2017, there was a bill submitted that will require shelters, rescues, pet stores, and breeders to neuter all dogs prior to sale if they are 8 weeks or older.  This would require all puppies to be neutered prior to being released to their new owners at as young as 8 weeks.  


The American Veterinary Medical Association also supports each veterinarian's judgment on what age to neuter based on the individual dog and owner's preferences and lifestyle. If you adopt or acquire an intact older dog, your veterinarian can determine if he can safely undergo the gonadectomy. Several studies support the safety of this early age neutering, including one that found that puppies as young as 7 weeks recover from anesthetic quickly and have fewer complications than those neutered at 7 months. 


And when my vet first saw my puppy, a day after the rescue neutered him, he said that the neutering looked "excellent" and he expected an extremely fast, and positive recovery.  My puppy did not even need a cone; he never once tried to lick or bother the surgery site and it was healed within a few short days.

 After this experience, my husband and I have not  - and will not - shop at a Petco location again.  I understand Petco employees are NOT trained, schooled veterinarian doctors (although they definitely act like it), however I still expect them to be knowledgeable about common practices in dog ownership.  And if they are not, they should not be aggressively stating invalid, untrue, completely false statements to their customers.
I hope this complaint does not fall on deaf ears and I hope this store's General Manager will be made aware of the situation, and will properly address and train their employees on how to .
Thank you. 
Community Manager

Re: Petco Employee Aggressively Bullied False Information

Hi LeopardPrint. First off, congratulations on your new puppy, and we're glad to hear he's recovered well! We do not want you to be stuck with a bad experience, and appreciate you bringing this to our attention, as we never want our customers to feel this way when visiting our stores. If you'd like to email us at PTPsupport@petco.com with your contact information (please include a link to this post for our reference) we'll be happy to see what we can do to make things right. In the meantime, we've shared this with our team for further handling. Thank you!

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