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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.

LV Outdoorsman007 January 18, 2014 at 06:59 AM
As a fish keeper, this unfortunately comes as no surprise too me. I have seen ALOT of big pet stores like this that care only about making money and have no morals. Meanwhile, the honest, small business DO care about their pets but are pushed out because of places like these. Don't buy from walmart. Petsmart is not to good either. I told a store associate that there were a lot of dead fish in a tank and his response was " we'll we got like 100 so no biggie."
Bonni Copes January 18, 2014 at 08:20 AM
Has anyone tried to contact Fish n Game Departments ? This is very sad n very shameful . I have asked my FaceBook family to check on Fish in their Walmarts n complain complain complain . N TAKE PICTURES n post on FB . This DOES matter ! This IS cruelty !
Tom Ficca January 18, 2014 at 10:51 AM
Wal-Mart SUCKS I don't shop there !!!!!!!!!!!!!
Big Dawg January 18, 2014 at 03:00 PM
the simplest solution would have been to hire someone passionate about aquariums but who knows if any such person exists(ed).
Curious George January 18, 2014 at 03:40 PM
I think Walmart was planning on offering sushi to it's employees.
Christopher Eric Kulbeda January 18, 2014 at 05:14 PM
Same lack of care goes to home and garden plants EVERY year. How much wasted time and money on dead and dying plants.
Kelly Deno Lainey January 18, 2014 at 07:38 PM
There is a solution. Pay a little more and go elsewhere.
Dana M Stoehrer January 18, 2014 at 10:26 PM
Walmart needs to be brought up on Animal cruelty fro this because that's EXACTLY what it is.
Mary Finelli January 19, 2014 at 02:47 AM
It's so good of the Mendham-Chester Patch to bring attention to this blatant animal abuse, which is what it is. It's great to see so many comments by concerned, compassionate people. Then there's the comment posted by Michael Francis Govostes, who is apparently ignorant of the fact that fish are perceptive beings who are able to suffer pain and agony. The only thing "lame," is his comment.
Sharon Usher January 19, 2014 at 05:46 AM
you hit the nail on the head
Sue Taylor January 19, 2014 at 06:25 AM
Is that not animal abuse? someone should be going to jail, and for children to have to witness these poor fish gasping for air it just unthinkable.
Florencia Martinez Echenique January 19, 2014 at 08:30 AM
The same situation happens in Hood River, Or. They even have a "dead fish log" where they write down how many fish die every day. I contacted the manager but nothing was done. Walmart abuses animals to make some extra $$
Sano Yanno January 19, 2014 at 08:31 AM
Walmart doesnt even care about its own employees do you really think it cares about some silly fish? Anon-VPN.com
Gilbert R Albright Jr January 19, 2014 at 08:44 AM
The Walmart's in China sell lots of live animals and with lax laws there I'm sure the animal abuse is even worse.
Daisy_MAe January 19, 2014 at 09:01 AM
Selling Live animals at Walmart may not be the best decision. They sell so much already and animal upkeep is tedious and ongoing. I have been at Walmarts where I have discreetly taken associates aside and suggested they clean the tanks. I have worked in the Pet industry so this upsets me. Walmarts level of commitment to this animals is clearly low. But, that being said, I am sure we cannot lump all Walmarts into that category. This is food for thought all the way around.
Roberta Whitman January 19, 2014 at 09:21 AM
I have been in many many Walmarts in past 5 years and always found about 20% of the fish dead, dying or being abused by other fish. Selling and keeping of fish is disgusting and no one should patronize any store that holds animals.
Johnny Angel January 19, 2014 at 09:45 AM
children (HUMANS) not fish are being abused as we type . you idiots are crying over dead fish... effin losers get a life
william savick January 19, 2014 at 10:35 AM
Yea, well look Johnny Angel, in many cases the abuse of animals leads to the abuse of children, so you've got to speak up to nip it in the bud before it spreads .
Johnny Slapstick January 19, 2014 at 12:32 PM
It's ok to eat fish 'cuz they don't have no feelin's
J. W. MacMahon January 19, 2014 at 02:28 PM
This is a management problem, whether is was the department head or store manger. Obviously the "fish department" is not a definitive section to any store such as Wally-Mart, but if you have such it should be maintained properly as any other part of the store. This is certainly more valid with live animals, fish or not. This is indicative of general poor management in the Wally-Mart stores and another reason I do not go there. RxJiMac/Atlanta
Bonnie Hall January 19, 2014 at 04:23 PM
We noticed the same thing at our Walmart in Louisville, KY. All department should be monitored by management, especially where live creatures are involved.
Diane Gray January 19, 2014 at 06:45 PM
It is not just that Walmart my daughter and I have been to several different Walmarts in the past and they do not take care of their fish. There were several dead fish and at one time my daughter started crying because of how bad they were taken care of. I asked for a manager and they told me it would be taken care of that the person in charge at the time was sick. That was no excuse. I hope they all never sell fish and animals again.
Robert January 19, 2014 at 10:30 PM
Doesn't sound any different than any other department i have ever seen at the wakmark. What are people still doing there/
David Sampson January 20, 2014 at 03:16 AM
I had issues with the fish tanks at my local Wal-Marts many times. One took the fish out and stopped selling them when they remodeled the store. I sat Thank you Wal-Mart for that. The other is still a death sentence for fish. I see dead fish all the time. The gravel was replaced with sheets of plastic with gravel pictured on it. The Beta fish are dying all the time. It is a mess. I have called many times and the store is doing better. They should stop selling live fish. It is not a pet store. If you can not keep Beta fish alive you do not need to sell other fish.
William Hagenmaier January 20, 2014 at 08:51 AM
they treat fish like they do there employees
Chef Giovanni January 20, 2014 at 12:56 PM
It's not just WalMart. I've almost never been to a fish store that doesn't have dead fish in the tanks. Sometimes, those fish were even being nibbled by their tank-mates, or covered in a fungus ball! Store personnel react when you tell them, but they should really be monitoring their tanks.
elaine fogg January 20, 2014 at 01:12 PM
I don't know what disturbs me most,..the situation at walmart or the comments by people who don't care about the bad treatment of living things.We should all care and as w. savick said and I agree,..this lack of caring and abuse leads to other types of abuse such as of children and employees(which walmart is famous for).
Candace Hippe Sacre January 20, 2014 at 03:35 PM
And Walmart treats its employees the same.
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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