Tragedy at Cobasi pet store sparks outrage in Brazil

Massacre in a Cobasi pet shop in Porto Alegre, Brazil: 38 fish, birds and rodents drowned in the basement due to the floods that hit Rio Grande do Sul

The Cobasi pet store tragedy in Porto Alegre, Brazil, has ignited widespread outrage following the devastating floods in Rio Grande do Sul. Located in the Praia de Belas shopping center, the store experienced a horrific incident where all animals housed in the basement perished by drowning.

Authorities discover neglect amid catastrophe

Civil Police retrieved the bodies of 38 animals, including fish, birds, and rodents. However, the total number of fatalities is feared to be higher due to remaining debris. Notably, before evacuating, store employees prioritized the safety of four computers on the main floor, neglecting the animals below.

Company’s insufficient explanations

Cobasi claimed that in the event of an emergency, the store had to be evacuated and that the animals were positioned over 3 feet above the ground. However, the water rose to nearly 11.5 feet, rendering any attempts at rescue futile. The company also stated that there was no flooding risk at the time of evacuation—a claim many found unconvincing.

NGO criticism and ongoing investigation

The NGO Princípio Animal criticized the store’s actions, arguing that if the employees had moved the animals to the upper floor, they would have survived. This was confirmed when firefighters, alongside the NGO, inspected the site, finding the mezzanine intact and the basement completely submerged.

Cobasi confirmed the animals’ deaths and expressed condolences. In a statement, they promised continued collaboration with animal protection NGOs and efforts to save as many lives as possible in the future.

The need for revised emergency protocols

This case remains under investigation and raises significant concerns about emergency management and the prioritization of animal lives over material goods. This tragedy highlights the urgent need to revise evacuation protocols to ensure that everyone, including animals, is adequately protected in emergency situations.

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