I work at a known chain of pet stores and I frequently come into contact with sick animals (who may bite). Our store hasn't had proper PPE (personal protective equipment) in weeks: no gloves (bite gloves or disposable), no masks to not inhale debris especially from the birds, frequently no paper towels, so on and so forth. Management is known to cut corners.

But given how frequently we workers have to take care of sick and unhealthy animals with easily spreadable zoonotic diseases (salmonella, ringworm, etc), pick up after people's dogs (if the owners decide not to do it), etc., I feel like the store not offering proper PPE is a violation somehow. especially in this type of environment.

It's too easy to get sick or bit here and it seems as if management only cares about the bottom line and not the workers. Groomers for example have to deal with crazy dogs without any real protection because they may face consequences if they refuse. Dogs need vaccinations to get groomed and do training, but any dog can walk in the store without such vaccinations if the owner isn't there for grooming or training. There's no simple first aid kits either, and if you get bit by a small animal, nobody writes up an incident report unless it's bad.

I don't want to call HR because they have a way of finding out who you are and you can face consequences or get written up... for valid complaints. It's a tough situation. Are there any suggestions on what I can do? (Besides quitting).

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    A few pertinent quesitons: Is this simply out of concern for potential illness, or have there been a notable number of illnesses/injuries passed this way? Do you know if there are regulations (OSHA or the like) that pertain but are not being followed? Are other pet stores in the area likewise lax, or is your company particularly bad with respect to this?
    – Ben Barden
    Jul 9, 2019 at 17:00
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    Location would help - if you're in the US, OSHA would be someone to contact. Jul 9, 2019 at 17:07
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    Everything you need is here: osha.gov/workers/index.html
    – dwizum
    Jul 9, 2019 at 17:46
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    It all comes down to country. I'm sure in USA and parts of Europe you have a lot of laws surrounding this. Other countries might not.
    – Dan
    Jul 9, 2019 at 17:58
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    So, yeah, adding a country tag would help.
    – Ben Barden
    Jul 9, 2019 at 18:45

3 Answers 3


OSHA dictates PPE must be provided where risks occur and that the employer must pay for it. The employer is responsible for assessing the PPE requirements for performing work in the workplace and following through on providing it. Failure to comply has major financial and reputational consequences. Should your employer not take worker safety seriously an anonymous tip line exists to report and whistleblower supports exist should retaliation occur. Links provided below to support these points.

As advice, your employer has opted to take profits over worker safety. I wouldn't bother complaining to them directly as you paint a target on yourself. I would make an anonymous complaint to OSHA and let the process run its course. Once audited it is typically more expensive to be out of compliance rather than pay for proper worker protections.







Are there any suggestions on what I can do?

Buying your own PPE as suggested in the other answer is a way, if you can and are willing to cover it with your money.

For the "communal" PPE (First Aid, bandages, etc.) you can coordinate with the rest of your coworkers and buy that equipment together. As it is also of their interest, they will surely be willing to do it.

An alternative I can think of is to raise your concern to management or HR as a group. You say that the situation is tough, and I also perceive that your coworkers and you may be a bit afraid to ask/complain... but if you organize all or the majority of your coworkers, and ask/raise your concerns it will be more difficult for management to cut corners or dismiss your request (not to mention to attempt to write all of you up).

If there is some trade Union for your profession, that would also be a solid resource to contact.

As mentioned in comment, it is not clear what your location is. If you are in the USA, OSHA would be the most adequate contact you could reach out. If you are in Europe, most likely there exists an equivalent to OSHA you can contact

Now, if you are in other countries that don't have these facilities (like it is my case) things are indeed more difficult and delicate. Case in which you will have to tread lightly if raising this (and case where you should consider buying your PPE on your own in the meantime, as your safety is paramount here).

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    In the UK there's the Health and Safety Executive (hse.gov.uk) There's an option under 'contact us' to report work places in violation.
    – Smock
    Jul 10, 2019 at 12:33
  • @Smock thanks for the useful link :) good thing OP clarified their location
    – DarkCygnus
    Jul 10, 2019 at 16:26
  • well now they've done that I've +1'd your answer. Shall I leave my comment in case someone see's this question from the UK?
    – Smock
    Jul 11, 2019 at 7:29
  • Yes that would be useful
    – DarkCygnus
    Jul 11, 2019 at 12:59

Buy your own ppe. This will keep you safe and might spark discussion among others who feel the same to raise it with management.

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    The PPE OP needs could be expensive and/or require many components. Asking OP to cover it with their own money is indeed a way, but they will have to cover it with their own money, something that could not be feasible or escalate (some equipment could need replacement every x time)
    – DarkCygnus
    Jul 9, 2019 at 22:47
  • In Australia if you buy your own PPE it is tax deductible. And as mentioned can spark discussion among others.
    – solarflare
    Jul 9, 2019 at 22:47
  • @solarflare we currently ignore if OP is in Australia. A location tag will greatly help here. Hopefully in OPs location PPE is also tax deductible.
    – DarkCygnus
    Jul 9, 2019 at 22:48
  • At this point I have bought my own ppe, I do not want to risk sickness or injury. I'm also allergic to one of the animals here
    – Vanda
    Jul 10, 2019 at 16:24
  • Also, sorry about the location thing, i'm in the us. I'm new to this forum and pn mobile. I'll look to see if I can add it.
    – Vanda
    Jul 10, 2019 at 16:28

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