‘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


joan silaco
joan s4 months ago

What about when the people bring the chicks back?

Anne M
Anne M4 months ago


Antje S
Antje S5 months ago

no living creature is a toy

Filomena C
Filomena C5 months ago


Filomena C
Filomena C5 months ago

This is horrible!
They are not toys.
Please give protection to those little chicks.

Ruth S
Ruth S5 months ago


Pat P
Pat P5 months ago

These little chicks are not objects or toys and are very vulnerable to abuse! They are baby living beings!

If we don't have more concern for animal welfare and the rights they are due, there won't be any left to abuse.
Animal cruelty, worldwide, is a major concern, despite all they we know of how sensitive they are, how much physical and emotional pain they feel and how similar they are to humans, except for the sickeningly cruel and insane parts!

Steve Lane is a demented cruel freak! He needs to be shut down and kicked off this planet! Anyone who pays him rent for a live little fragile baby chick is an insensitive idiot!

K M5 months ago

Bad idea. It needs to stop. It teaches the wrong message. Animals are not disposable rental stuff. Adopt, DON'T shop or rent.

Rita Odessa
Rita Delfing5 months ago

Worse is the people who do this and support this practice, no demand no supply, ingrates!

Chad A
Chad Anderson5 months ago

Thank you.