Johnson City Petco Flooding
Marcie Whichard on September 10th, 2011
Thank you for your passion for the animals in regards to the devastating flood in Johnson City, NY. All animals have been removed from the store and taken to safe locations. Like you, our first concern is the welfare of the animals and we are heartbroken over this tragedy. Some animals did perish and this weighs heavily on our minds and hearts.
We want to stress that this was not carelessness on our associates’ behalf, but a communications lapse from the city to the store in evacuations orders. The flooding was not from the Susquehanna River itself but from a back up in the town’s sewage/drainage system. We are investigating why we did not receive those evacuation orders from the city if this area was known to flood in the past. Had we been aware of potential flooding we would have removed all of the animals from the store as we do in all other locations.
An associate went by to check the store at 11:45 p.m. on Wednesday night and there were no signs of flooding or a flood warning in effect. Our store associates and manager in Johnson City had no reason to expect our store would be impacted by the flooding of the Susquehanna River so the decision was made to keep the animals in the store. We have a hotline for associates to use if they ever feel an animal is in danger and no calls were made to the hotline suggesting that the associates feared flooding would impact the store and endanger the animals.
Early Thursday morning our team arrived to work and was shocked at the enormity of the situation. They immediately tried to enter the building to evacuate the animals but were turned away by the authorities due to concerns for human safety. At the time the city was focused on rescuing people from their homes by boat and could not divert resources to our store until Friday.
We have since been allowed into the store and have safely removed and transported animals and aquatic life to nearby stores. We are proud of the associates that helped in the rescue efforts and will continue to work with the authorities in Johnson City to try and resolve the question of why we were not alerted in a timely manner and how we can collectively improve the warning system to prevent such tragedies in the future.
We have disaster preparedness and evacuation protocol for all stores. In recent weeks we put those measures into action and evacuated animals from the stores impacted by weather and expected flooding. PETCO has a long history of being the first responders in emergency situations, helping people and their pets impacted by disasters like the ones we saw this year across our country. Even now, our associates are working hard to support and provide help for pets and pet parents in TX and AZ impacted by fires and still assisting in adoption of animals for major disasters like the ones in Joplin. Please know it is our mission to find happy homes for every pet in our stores and our associates all share in that same mission.