Hamster Ball Derby Rolls Into All PETCO Stores Nationwide On Oct. 3

Derby educates children and parents on proper and responsible care of small animals

SAN DIEGO (Sept. 10, 2009) — PETCO, a leading pet specialty retailer, will host its annual, and very popular, Hamster Ball Derby at all of the company’s more than 950 locations across the country on Saturday, Oct. 3 at 2 p.m.  Last year’s race drew more than 12,000 racing hamsters and their cheering pet parents.

Using hamster balls as their vehicles, hamsters and other small pets will race down eight-foot tracks in heats of four en route to the finish line for a chance at derby glory.

“This event is so much fun and a great way to bring kids and pets together in their communities for some friendly competition,” said Elisabeth Charles, PETCO’s Chief Marketing Officer. “It’s also a great venue for us to help educate our youngest pet parents on how to properly and responsibly care for their small animals at home.”

First-place winners at each store will win a first-place medal and a Kaytee Forti Diet Pro Health Small Animal Starter Kit, complete with food, bedding, a treat and a chew. Second-place winners will receive a second-place ribbon and a Super Pet Hamburger Crispy Combo Chew. Third-place racers will take home a finalist ribbon and a Kaytee Hamster Single Honey Treat Stick. All participants will receive a sticker reading “My pet ran in the Hamster Ball Derby.”

Participants must bring their own hamsters and hamster balls to participate. Registration for the race is free; sign-ups and practice sessions begin at 1:30 p.m. on derby day. Spectators are encouraged to join in and cheer on their favorite little competitors.

The Hamster Ball Derby is open to hamsters, gerbils (where legal), mice and rats only.  Chinchillas, guinea pigs and other exotic animals will not be permitted. All small animals will race in size-appropriate balls provided by the pet parent. Store animals are not allowed to participate.

Each race is kicked off with a brief tutorial from a PETCO Companion Animal Specialist or store manager on how to keep your hamster or small animal healthy and happy. Topics will include feeding the right food, the necessity of fresh water, the importance of exercise, chew toys and understanding a hamster’s nocturnal nature.

Complete educational materials and care sheets, as well as an assortment of hamster balls and other small animal food and supplies can be found online at PETCO.com or at your local PETCO store.

For more information about the derby, including a 20 percent off coupon valid on derby day only, and to find a participating location near you, visit www.petco.com/hamster

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About PETCO
PETCO is a privately held specialty retailer that provides products, services and advice that make it easier for our customers to be great pet parents. We operate more than 950 stores in 50 states and the District of Columbia, as well as a leading pet products and information destination at PETCO.com. Our nonprofit organization, The PETCO Foundation, has raised more than $50 million since its inception in 1999 to help promote and improve the welfare of companion animals. In conjunction with the foundation, we work with and support more than 6,200 local animal welfare groups across the country to help find homes for more than 200,000 adoptable animals every year.

Contact:           Lisa Epstein, 858.997.4540, lisae@PETCO.com
                               Courtney Pendleton, 619.237.7722, courtney.pendleton@fleishman.com

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