Important Notice for ducklings that have experienced health problems or death

ive Ducks has received numerous complaints from duck owners who were advised by Tractor Supply Corp. to use supplies known to be dangerous or deadly to ducklings. Prior to Easter, when duckling sales typically skyrocket, Live Ducks wrote to the Corporate Office of the retail giant urging them to review their customer information policy. Their response was: "At Tractor Supply Corporation our policy is to care for all animals appropriately, whether companion animals or livestock. We send special care instructions with every shipment of animals to our stores, for our stores to distribute to customers. We also have employees with the knowledge to manage the care of these animals."

e talked to store customers from several states, including Virginia, Texas, Michigan and Indiana and asked if they were given a care sheet. None were given literature and most were unable to get basic care instructions from store employees.

The publicly owned Corporation (NASDAQ | TSCO) maintains, "Generally speaking, our customers tend to have acreage and both the motivation and knowledge to properly care for their animals."

Several Live Ducks fans reported that they returned to the store seeking help and were given conflicting information. According to one customer: "If they gave out care sheets then I never received one. Basically I was told nothing except handed a package of Aureomycine to put in their water. [I] was never told to keep them warm, make sure that they have water at all times until I came back the second time to purchase more ducks and at that time I asked all the questions and still did not get the proper instructions".

Another customer said, "As my duckies grow it's pretty obvious that the place I got them from had no clue what they were talking about when they sold them to me telling me that they were Rouens. Being a biology major I took them into school to have one of the bird expert biology profs examine them- he determined that one of my babies is a full blooded Mallard and the other is a Mallard/black duck mix. In addition to not knowing what kind-of duckies they are dealing with, I think that the store employees are obviously not educated enough to properly inform customers on what they are purchasing and how to take proper care of them. At least three employees there told me it would be alright to release them into the wild when they were adults".

One woman replaced five of her six ducklings who died within the first week

ustomers have told Live Ducks they experienced losses of several ducklings within days of purchase, returned to the store to purchase more ducklings thinking they were somehow at fault for the deaths. One woman replaced five of her six ducklings that died within the first week. The second batch were raised using care advice provided on Live Ducks Duckling Care Flyer. "All of the ducklings from the second batch are doing well. The survivor from the first batch is 1/4 the size [of the others]".

Complaints from consumers include several stores in the T.S.C. chain that did not carry supplies a duckling needs to survive. According to a woman who visited a Michigan store, "When I asked the employee's a question (anything from sex to breed to heat lamps) I always got a different answer. I don't think any of them really know what they're talking about..."

The store's Corporate website provides online ordering of live ducks and chickens and fails to include the necessary supplies, feed or care instructions. Although there is no law requiring that they provide these vital details, Live Ducks and many people who have complained believe there is an ethical responsibility that has clearly been ignored.

One customer purchased ducklings from a Texas T.S.C. store and later wrote to Live Ducks saying, "[They] did not have the needed supplies on hand (water dish, heat lamp) and I had to go to [another pet store] in Waco to get everything else I needed." She continued, "I am unhappy with the misinformation I received".

"It's disturbing to see so many complaints coming in from all over the country."

A well-known duck expert in Washington D.C. Ted Woynicz, known as "The Duckman of D.C." for his extensive work with ducks in Constitution Gardens visited a store in Virginia and called Live Ducks to report his findings. "There were approximately 180 ducklings, about two weeks old, not well housed, crammed into two watering troughs lined with wood chips. They have no clue whatsoever as to the proper care or treatment". Abuses reported to Live Ducks include severe overcrowding, resulting in scratches and bleeding of the feet.

Other complaints include respiratory distress, infection, convulsions, stunted growth and death. According to Lori Goodman of Live Ducks, "Dozens of people have written to me pleading for help and asking me to do something. My heart breaks everytime someone writes to me describing another death that could have been avoided by simply giving out the proper care information.

"The company assures me they care about their customers when the reality is that they allow their customers pets to be killed as a direct result of their employees dispensing false information and selling supplies that are widely known in the Industry to be harmful. It's especially alarming when the correct information is readily available and they won't even acknowledge it".

ive Ducks is continuing their efforts in hopes of putting public pressure on T.S.C. to put an end the reported abuse. Live Ducks has received several emails from people who are angry when they are told what to do by the store and discover completely different information on duck care websites. An unhappy customer who frequents the chain store wrote to Live Ducks asking, "Is there anything that we can do to change this or someone that we could contact to make sure that [the ducks] are taken care of properly and that the stores selling them have a clue as to what they are doing?"

It is well known in the waterfowl industry that medicating duck food or water is dangerous and can kill the duck. "Chickens are medicated routinely, it's shameful that salespeople handling live animals don't know that ducks and chickens have different requirements. Some things that are safe for a chicken will kill a duck", says Live Ducks. Using wood chips is not safe because the ducks can accidentally ingest them and choke to death or develop a fatal intestinal blockage. Some of the stores have reportedly told people to feed their ducks a mixture of cornmeal and breadcrumbs, both known to cause severe malnutrition when used as a primary food source.

According to Lori Goodman creator of several websites dedicated to animal care including Live Ducks, Live Bunnies and Live Turtles, "Someone from New York emailed me asking if they could feed their ducks rabbit food since duck food was not sold at the store they purchased the ducklings. The store where they bought the duck was not even equipped to offer the most basic information or starter supplies. After a few emails back and forth I convinced her to order duck food online rather than risk the health of her duck by feeding it the wrong food".

Live Ducks wrote to T.S.C.'s Corporate office a second time on April 18, 2003 urging them to address the chainwide problem. The Corporation failed to respond.

This year the same reports of abuse are reported to Live Ducks, including a disturbing email from Carol Wolf saying: "I recently bought two baby ducks from the Tractor Supply in Medina, Ohio. About three weeks later, one of the ducks started having seizures. When I thought it was close to dying I called Tractor Supply to arrange for a replacement duck to keep the second duck company. I was told to bring sick duck back to Tractor Supply and they would 'dispose of it' and give me a new duck. When I asked how they disposed of it, I was told they 'throw it in the garbage.' But I said, 'it's not dead.' I was told, it would still go into the garbage. Obviously, I didn't give them my duck and I plan on doing something about that. I have contacted the local small town paper because I think their readers would be interested. I also plan to call, and if I can't get him, write the company CEO and complain. I also plan on writing the local TV station."

"We need all the help we can get to stop this..."

If you have purchased a duckling from a Tractor Supply Corporation store and have had a bad experience or have any information regarding abuses, Live Ducks wants to hear from you. "We need all the help we can get to stop this. It's up to the people who have been mislead to come forward and speak out so T.S.C. will be forced to correct these abuses or risk damaging their reputation with the public and their stockholders."

Michelle Bruce-Morales, Supporter Liaison for the World Society for the Protection of Animals (WSPA) suggests appropriate action includes making a complaint.

What You Can Do:

  1. Contact the store through their website or mangement personnel and file a written complaint. Keep a copy of your complaint.
  2. Contact the Better Business Bureau and file a complaint.
  3. Find local Animal Welfare organizations through the World Animal Net Directory and report abuses or problems.

-Lori Goodman

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