posted on Mar, 22 2011 @ 11:15 PM
This subject actually touches closer to home for me than for most. I used to work for a company that, then, was the second largest exotic pet
distributor in the US ( It has since been bought out by the largest company in that field). When you think "exotic" just assume everything
that isn't cats and dogs. From mice all the way to rattlesnakes. But anyway...
This company has two facilities - one for fish and reptiles, the other for birds and mammals. I worked for them as a delivery driver for several
years, which was not very traumatizing where death was involved. Animals sometimes do die in transit - usually from things like temperature variation
during travel, dehydration, or shock. But it wasn't common for the larger animals. One can get used to dead mice or hamsters. Things like ferrets,
rabbits, chinchillas, etc. rarely ever were DOA. So, as a driver I was fairly insulated from seeing it.
But, after several years, the long hours of driving took their toll upon me. This company worked around DOT rules, a few different ways - and it was
not uncommon for my "route" to last for well over 24 straight hours. I had three routes per week and worked 60-70 hours per week. You do the math.
Burnout is something that drivers were susceptible to. And we did burn out.
After my burnout I was offered a job at the small animals facility... "packing". This was the act of preparing the animals for delivery... pulling
them from their cages and placing them into aerated boxes with a bit of food and a hydration source (usually a small piece of fruit.)
I did not last long at the small animal facility. The amount of death there was unreal. For example, one employee, in particular, whenever bitten by
just about any critter, broke its neck. And he was retained and allowed to behave in this manner. As long as he didn't kill anything "high dollar"
(ferrets, chinchillas, exotic birds) he was safe.
But it was the euthanasia process that bothered me the most. The "kill box" was a plastic box ( I think a sand blasting cabinet ) altered a bit - it
had a hose leading into it from the exhaust of a table mounted 5 horsepower lawnmower engine. Any animal that was sick, sickly, or defective ( think
baby ferret or rabbit with cataracts or even just one that was naturally very skinny ) was put in the box to be killed by the exhaust from this
I am positive that this was illegal as the "kill box" was hidden very frequently. Any time an outsider entered the front door of the facility - the
box was instantly shoved into the electrical closet. Otherwise it was out, and was almost constantly in use.
The woman I lived with, at the time, did all she could to talk me into not quitting over this issue. We had bills and she didn't want me going
through any period of unemployment. We weren't getting along very well at that point and I knew that quitting this job would probably lead to me
losing somebody I was very much in love with. Even so... I quit after only six weeks. It was that bad.
I had nightmares about that box for more than a year.
Oh, and she did leave me, about two weeks after I quit.It did break my heart. But, compared to the idea of having to spend one more day in the pet
industry... I think I can accept things just as they happened.