‘Rent-a-Chick’ Is a Terrible Pet Store Promotion Idea

For a couple of weeks every spring, customers of Steve’s Wonderful World of Pets in Williamsville, N.Y., can rent up to two chicks for about $40 and return them to the store after Easter.

This “Rent-a-Chick” promotion has been going on for 15 years. The store owner, Steve Lane, says it’s a wonderful tradition and prevents peoples from buying “disposable pets” this time of year.

The SPCA Serving Erie County and others concerned about animal welfare don’t find anything wonderful about Rent-a-Chick.

In the past, the SPCA had to stop Steve’s Wonderful World of Pets from renting chicks that had been dyed, which is illegal in New York. But why hasn’t the Rent-a-Chick promotion been shut down as well?

“The reason the matter isn’t already settled once and for all is because, despite what the SPCA unequivocally believes is ethically and morally wrong, we must abide by a vague, unclear law that only specifies the sale, offer for sale, bartering, or giving away of live chicks,” the SPCA stated on its Facebook page.

That’s right – the store is getting around this state animal welfare law by renting the chicks instead of selling them. By doing so, according to the SPCA statement, it “appears to value novelty and legal loopholes over animals’ lives.” (In the past, the store has also been under fire for selling puppies from puppy mills.)

In addition to the SPCA, the New York State Department of Agriculture and Markets has also received “many complaints” about the Rent-a-Chick promotion, Spectrum News reports. The department is monitoring the promotion, a spokesperson said, but will do something only if the store violates any animal cruelty laws.

Meanwhile, the SPCA is trying to enlighten customers who are “innocently helping to keep this scheme alive by renting these chicks…just because there is at the moment no legal stance to stop a practice doesn’t mean the practice is right.”

Here are a couple of the many reasons why the SPCA is opposed to renting chicks:

  • The chicks are extremely fragile, and customers unaccustomed to handling them may not have been given adequate training. (Lane told Spectrum News customers are given a container with “the medicated food, bedding, a water bottle that has electrolytes in it for their start, and a clamp lamp with a heat bulb in it.”)
  • No screening or monitoring of customers is done to ensure the animals are going to homes where they’ll be treated responsibly and humanely. (Lane said he rented about 400 chicks last year, and two of them died.)

“I stand behind what I’m doing,” Lane told Spectrum News. “I think this chick rental thing is a good thing. It’s a great thing for families with young children.”

The Centers for Disease Control certainly doesn’t think it’s a great thing for young children, who can become very sick with Salmonella and other germs if they handle the chicks. “Don’t let children younger than 5 years, adults older than 65, or people with weakened immune systems from conditions such as cancer treatment, HIV/AIDS or organ transplants, handle or touch chicks, ducklings, or other live poultry,” it warns.

There are much safer and more humane ways than this “chick rental thing” to teach children about animals — “without risking the lives of the animals, and without planting a seed that these live animals are playthings that are discardable with no need to be properly housed, even temporarily,” as the SPCA pointed out.


  • Sign the Care2 petition telling Steve Lane to stop the Rent-a-Chick promotion at Steve’s Wonderful World of Pets.
  • Don’t rent or buy chicks or other animals as Easter gifts. Give stuffed toys instead or, better yet, make a donation to a local animal shelter or sanctuary in honor of the recipient.

Photo credit: Trixieliko


hELEN h7 months ago


Karen N
Karen N7 months ago

As usual human arrogance, business and profits before compassion and the welfare of animals! . . . Some will sink to any level for business and profit and find any loophole they can to trade! . . . Anyone with a conscience would use their money to support those doing all they can to help and protect animals, such as reputable sanctuaries and reputable rescue centres/shelters etc. . . . NOT those that are subjecting them to misery, stress and possible harm and death exploiting and profiting from them!

hELEN h7 months ago


Michael Friedmann
Michael F7 months ago

Thank You for Sharing This !!!

Ann B
Ann B7 months ago

This was a STUPID idea to start with!!! and needs to be stopped !!!!! little hands will squeeze the chick till dead...and that will be ANOTHER dead animal that was needlessly killed//animals are not toys

michela c
michela c7 months ago

Petition already signed.
Stop this and save the poor chicks .

Marie W
Marie W7 months ago

Thank you very much.

joan silaco
joan silacoabout a year ago

What about when the people bring the chicks back?

Anne M
Anne Mabout a year ago


Antje S
Antje Sabout a year ago

no living creature is a toy