Rescuing Animals from Government Mandated and Other Immediate Threats.

Developer gets OK to destroy hundreds of tortoises
Wildlife official sounds like builder
Killing Animals For Profit



The story centers on 36 male Beta fish Siamese fighting fish, who were in an abominable state. They are traditionally kept in small plastic cups which is fine. These cups though, had low water levels which exposed dorsal fins of the fish and the water was fetid from feces.

Wal-mart staff never took any care of these animals. With help from three kids in the store, we scavenged fish food and water from large fish tanks and cleaned the water in every one of the cups. Before we finished, I tried calling the Sunrise Police Department, Sunrise, Florida on a 911 call to file an animal abuse charge.

The dispatcher told me they could do nothing and that I should call company headquarters. It seems Wal-mart has a sweetheart deal with this particular police department (please publish this on the site). The dispatcher hung up on me.

Next the store manager was called in and the narrative attached picks up from here as to what happened. At one point while the manager was telling me to leave, I asked him to call the police but he refused.

- Steve Rosen


Follow the Story Day by Day

Wal-mart file


Spoke with Wal Mart person: Spoke with Jodie at Wal-Mart headquarters who documented my account. She said others have called complaining about similar problems in other Wal Mart stores. Tel: 479-273-4314

I gave her the name of the store manager, Brian Gillespie. Jodie said I should be hearing from Mr. Gillespie within three days.

If I did not here from him, I was told to call back and the report would be filed under my number (800) 940-8423.


8/21/02 6:20 PM 

Received call from someone named Stan at Wal Mart store in Sunrise. Tel: (954) 749-3111

Reached Stan at 6:45PM. He told me the Beta fish are important to the store. They buy from a breeder and it would not be cost-effective to let the fish degrade.

He said he went to the fish section and found all the Beta's in clean water. I told him that was because I, with the help of four customers whose names and phone numbers I had retained, took the time to change the water in all the Beta's cups, and even opened the air holes.

He then tried to tell me all about Beta's. he said they are normally found in puddles and that they normally breath air directly only.

I told him he was incorrect because Beta's have gills and they breath water as well. I told him they supplement their air supply with regular air using an organ called a “cistern”, but that they are indeed water breathers.

He then said that I knew more about Beta's than most people. I stated that that should make no difference.

He said they have an individual who takes care of the fish. I told him the individual’s name is Paul. He acknowledged that I was correct. He seemed to just be placating me.

I was told the store manager Mr. Gillespie, would contact me, not the assistant manager.

I told him that I had been in medical practice for 16 years and now own a multi-million dollar company, and had the resources to pursue legal action if need be. He said he was glad I was successful.

We discussed what happened in the store regarding the fish. I asked if he had seen the two dead fish that I stuck under the night manager’s nose. He said there were no dead fish there and again, that the Beta cups had clean water. I said if you would take the time to review your security tapes, you wind se where I and 4 others had changed the water.

He said there was food in cups. I told him that I opened fish food and feed all but three or four fish before the night whatever and some shady looking guy with a beer gut stopped me.

I was told that I had to leave the store. I asked if I could finish what I started, and the whatever guy said no. I asked why he had no concern for the welfare of the animals in Wal Mart’s care? He ignored the question and asked me to leave. I looked at the belly guy and asked him if he was the “goon”. He remained expressionless.

Stan stated that I was threatening to call the police. I told him I did call the police. Sunrise PD put me ion hold for about a minute. When the dispatcher came back on the line she said I had to contact Wal Mart’s home office. We exchanged words about the value of the Sunrise PD and the dispatcher hung up on me.

After relating all this to “Stan”, I told him that I was a PETA member and had filed a report with PETA informing members to watch out for Wal Mart’s. poor care of animals. I also told “Stan” that Jodie from Wal-Mart corporate told me that other people had filed similar complaints regarding other stores.

I told “Stan” that I would be monitoring the fish from time to time, and that they would hear from me again if I found similar deplorable conditions.

SIDE NOTE: Went to PetsMart in Sunrise today. Told people in fish department about Wal-mart. They immediately were aware of the conditions of fish in the Wal Mart stores and told me to stay away from them.



Called Wal Mart corporate again . Spoke with Brent. Told him that I was contacted by the assistant manager, not the actual manager as promised.

Told him that “Stan” the assistant manager tried to placate me with information about how Beta fish live. Told Brent that Stan stopped that angle when he found I knew more than he did about the fish. Told Brent that Stan denied that the fish were in poor condition and that there were no dead fish present. Told Brent about the 4 witnesses who helped me change the water in every single Beta cup, and whose names and phone numbers I had.

Told Brent that “Stan” denied the presence of any dead fish. Told Brent that the manager who threw me out was given the 2 fish by me and they obviously disappeared.

Told Brent about the conversation with Stan concerning my application to sell product in Wal Mart that was turned down, but which I considered a non-issue at this point.

Brent told me that I would be hearing from a district manager in a day or two. I thanked Brent.

8/26/02, 4:30PM 

Magda Cardona (954) 845-9145, Wal-Mart’s Local District Office 43) called back to report her conversation with Stan at the Sunrise, FL Wal-Mart Store, as promised.

She told me that the store had decided to do away with the Beta's being kept in the plastic cups from the breeder. She said the Beta's would be mixed in with the other fish in the main tanks with separators to isolate them from the other fish.

I thanked her very much for calling me back as promised and told her I would stop in to the store occasionally and check up on the Beta's.



Visited Wal-Mart Sunrise at 11:30PM, Friday night. I found 9 female Beta's in individual receptacles in the main tanks, however all 30 plus male Beta's were gone. There is no need to keep female Beta's in separate containers.

Spoke with TARA at Wal Mart corporate 5:00PM EDT. Gave her a few minutes to review the matter. Tara said District Manager Carlos, would call me.

Received call from Magda at district within 15 minutes. Told her that all the male Beta's disappeared and pet supplies were now sitting where the male Beta's were located. There was not a single male Beta in the store. There were 9 female Beta's in separate containers in the main tanks. Told her female Beta's do not need separation. She said she would call the store and find out what happened. I told her I thought they simply flushed the fish to get rid of them, but I would like to see documentation if they were actually sold


Spoke with Wal Mart Spoke with Mel (woman). Told her I never received a return call after my last conversation with Magda on 8/30/02. I waited for several weeks before calling corporate this time to be sure I would not get a call. Reiterated the story briefly and said all I wanted was to know what happened to the 30 Beta's that were in the store on 8/21/02. Told her I was a PETA member and would notify the organization. Mentioned the Amendment 10 issue in Florida and my role since she asked if I was an activist.

Mel said someone would contact me in the next several days. She did express concern and asked me to call back if I got no results.


Spoke with Magda. Carlos Lopez, District Manager.

Must have been Sold. them. 29 Beta's that week sold. Average of 18 per week. Told me that he advised other stores in the area to review animal handling. Very amenable.


Visited the Walmart store to pick up auto supplies. Visited the fish department. This time, the Betas were being kept in the cups provided by the breeder, except they were not on the shelf all lined up as I first found them. Now, they were piled into a white tub about 3-4 feet wide and deep and about 8-10 inches high. They were piled on top of one another.


Visited the store to check up on the Beta's. The pile of cupped fish in the white tub was not as high as on 12/2/02, however, discolored water in the cups was evident even from the floor level looking up. There were multiple dead fish in other tanks as well as a dead Beta in one of the clear plastic holders mounted inside the main tanks. You could clearly see that the water in these clear holders in the main tanks was not being filtered as fecal material was accumulating at the bottom, and the water in the containers had started to turn brownish.

Angels in Distress, Inc is a Federally Registered 501(c)3 non-profit corporation