CITY OF FAIRFAX, Va. (FOX 5 DC) - A disturbing undercover video has a Fairfax pet store under investigation. The Humane Society of the United States says it found more than a dozen dead rabbits inside a freezer at the Petland store. Now, it's raising questions about the conditions and treatment of the animals.
The five-month investigation involved a Humane Society investigator who went undercover for two months by getting a job at the Petland on Main Street in Fairfax and secretly recording what went on inside.
The Humane Society says under Virginia law veterinary care for rabbits kept as pets is mandatory to prevent disease, but several employees said on video it was store practice to just let them die.
The undercover worker found 14 dead rabbits inside shopping bags in the freezer.
Video appears to show the animals being dropped or handled roughly by people who appear to be customers inside the store.
The undercover worker also visited the store's primary rabbit supplier, a Maryland farm, and described the conditions there as dirty, crowded and inhumane.
The investigation also alleges that there is a steady stream of sick puppies at the Petland store as well.
On Tuesday, FOX 5 spoke with John Goodwin with the Humane Society.
“Easter is a time when a lot of rabbits are purchased in pet stores so we thought it was a great time to show what was happening to the rabbits in these stores. We don't know how the rabbits died... was it infectious disease? Was it from rough handling in the store? That's the problem… rabbits are not disposable products, these are living beings... Petland should be ashamed,” said Goodwin.
Petland released the following statement on the investigation below:
“Petland is saddened and outraged at this alleged gross violation of Petland’s animal care standards .... We find the timing of the deaths of these rabbits and HSUS’s undercover ‘investigation’ highly suspicious."
The store says they are sending their own representative to investigate.
On Monday, Fairfax City Police executed a search warrant and seized documents, records and some animals from Petland.
The manager at the store declined to comment while the police investigation is ongoing, but they are still open and selling rabbits.