No Hamster's Ball in Albuquerque

Reply Wed 21 Mar, 2007 10:58 am
Wednesday, March 21, 2007

No Hamster's Ball:
Petco Cancels Rodent Races for Fear of Running Afoul of City Law

By Olivier Uyttebrouck
Journal Staff Writer

There was no chance for some quick-footed hamster to emerge as the next Seabiscuit last weekend.
That's because Petco Stores suspended its hamster races to stay clear of Albuquerque's new animal ordinance.
Petco, which opened its third city location Saturday on the West Side, typically holds hamster ball races to celebrate the opening of a store.
The sight of small, fuzzy critters racing down a track in plastic balls may seem innocent enough, but Petco dispensed with the tradition because the city's ordinance prohibits "live animal racing for public exhibition." The law took effect in October.
"I know of no other local ordinance anywhere in the country where hamster racing is prohibited," said Don Cowan, a spokesman for Petco, which operates 850 stores in 49 states.
City officials say the store probably qualifies for an exemption under the ordinance, which allows the mayor to approve animal races in some circumstances.
"We certainly are not the animal Nazis," said Councilwoman Sally Mayer, who sponsored the animal ordinance.
"That was not my intent to prevent something like that," Mayer said of hamster ball races. "My gosh, for the opening of a store, that does not seem objectionable."
Mayer said the provision is intended to prevent commercial operations such as dog tracks that allow pari-mutuel betting.
Petco studied the ordinance and didn't consider challenging the provision against animal racing, said Rick Nordaker, Petco's district manager for New Mexico and Colorado. "In my mind, it was pretty clear."
Mayer suggested that Petco contact the City Attorney's Office or Mayor Martin Chávez to request an exemption from the ordinance.
Cowan said Petco will try to obtain an exemption before a national hamster ball race scheduled for March 31, in which races are held in stores across the country.
Kids take hamsters to the events, place them in plastic balls and rely on the rodents' running instincts to propel the ball down an 8-foot track toward a finish line.
Petco suspended the races in September, just before the city's ordinance took effect, Nordaker said.
The centerpiece of the city ordinance requires that dogs and cats be neutered unless their owners buy a $150 permit. The prohibition against animal racing is on Page 58.
Mayer's controversial 68-page ordinance went through 16 drafts, a court challenge and several standing-room-only City Council meetings. It added definitions of cruelty, raised fees and revisited every aspect of animal care that was in the former law.
Its critics said it went too far.
Denise Wilcox, who oversees the Albuquerque Animal Care Centers, said her office has the authority to grant an exemption from the animal racing ban if Petco requests one. The determination would be based on an inspection by a city field officer, she said.
"We just want to ensure that the animals are humanely cared-for," Wilcox said. "We'll make sure the hamsters are not being abused, and we'll take it under consideration."

source: Albuquerque Journal, 21.03.07, pages A1 & A3
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Reply Wed 21 Mar, 2007 11:11 am
I saw the advertisement for this in my local Petco. How I wished I had my hamster to enter him. He loved racing around in his ball. Whenever I went to the cage I would put my hand down, he would jump right onto it and I would bring him over to his ball. I would hold out my hand above it and he would jump on it - he loved the thing. The cats would run away for him.

Thanks for the memories.
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Reply Wed 21 Mar, 2007 11:19 am
Re: No Hamster's Ball in Albuquerque
Walter Hinteler wrote:

Wednesday, March 21, 2007

Petco studied the ordinance and didn't consider challenging the provision against animal racing, said Rick Nordaker, Petco's district manager for New Mexico and Colorado. "In my mind, it was pretty clear."

...that we'd get more publicity by cancelling the race.
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Reply Wed 21 Mar, 2007 11:26 am
I think they should hire Ted Nugent and let him try to blast the hamster balls with a paintball gun as they try to reach the finish line.
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Reply Wed 21 Mar, 2007 12:44 pm
hamsters have balls?
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Reply Wed 21 Mar, 2007 12:46 pm
Only the classy hamsters.
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Reply Wed 21 Mar, 2007 04:35 pm
When the hamsters started renting tuxedos, I was a little curious but I did recall it's getting to be Prom season. Anyway, they'll be terribly disappointed.
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Reply Wed 21 Mar, 2007 06:03 pm
I don't know about that. I never made it to a prom or formal ball, but I never heard about races. Certainly not in a tux.
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Reply Thu 22 Mar, 2007 08:42 am
C'mon... we've all been to the Hamster Dance.
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