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Local Walmart Lets Fish Die, Company Calls It 'Unacceptable'

Customers buy out remaining 'least sick' fish after an hour of unanswered questions to Flanders store associates.

Darkened tanks at Flanders Walmart with fish still in them. Photo Courtesy Dina Ely.
Darkened tanks at Flanders Walmart with fish still in them. Photo Courtesy Dina Ely.

FLANDERS, NJ—A Mt. Arlington family discovered a cruel scene at Walmart Wednesday when they saw a dozen tanks without power, dirty and filled with dead fish.

Donna Lohmeyer was in the store with her 2-year-old grandson when she decided to bring him over to the live fish tanks.

“It was a nightmare,” she said.

And "unacceptable," according to a Walmart spokeswoman.

Patch contacted Walmart’s corporate office in Arkansas Thursday and was initially told the store stopped selling fish “months” ago. Photos of the tanks and their condition Wednesday that were taken by Dina Ely, Lohmeyer’s daughter, were provided to corporate office for proof.

Several hours later, Walmart spokeswoman Kayla Whiting responded to Patch and said the tanks had since been cleaned. 

“This is unacceptable,” Whiting said. “There are protocols in place that were not followed, and associates (in the pet department) will be retrained immediately.”

Lohmeyer, a frequent Walmart shopper, said the tanks were without power and all filtration systems were removed. But there were still fish in those tanks.

“Most (fish) were dead, and rotting in the tanks,” she said. “Many were still swimming—starving, freezing, choking on foul water full of ammonia and algae.”

This wasn’t a new revelation, however. Lohmeyer said other customers were in the live pet area of the store, and told her they noticed the power went off more than a week ago. The water temperature in the tanks was 64 degrees, she said.

Lohmeyer sought the store manager and was told he was unavailable and out of the building. The pet department manager was “on break” for the hour she was there, Lohmeyer said. The customer—and admitted Walmart stockholder—waited for more than an hour for an associate to come and help them.

Lohmeyer and her family bought the remaining “least sick” fish, which happened to be small catfish.

The Walmart spokeswoman was told by the store’s associates that new fish had not been ordered in “a while,” and it was not yet determined if they would continue to sell them. The store reassesses inventory based on customer demands, she said.

No associates at the Flanders store location were reprimanded because of the incident, Whiting said.

Connie Packard Kamedulski January 21, 2014 at 11:00 AM
In Connecticut, the Department of Agriculture regulates and inspects pet stores -- including fish. These conditions would not be acceptable.
Judi Cornfield February 08, 2014 at 04:14 PM
Judi Cornfield If companies can't take care of the fish, there's a serious problem. They are God's creatures and shouldn't be abused like this. I report people and companies who abuse any type of animal. Call ASPCA to see where to report this terrible treatment of aquatic animals. They all (stores) should be fined and not allowed to sell pets of any kind.

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