January 2007 / Issue 13
Making Ourselves Proud
By Bob Vetere
It is not often that you can look yourself in the mirror and smile knowing that you have done something really important – and you did it not just for your own self interest, but because it is the right thing to do.
As you have heard from me a number of times over the past several months, the industry produced Animal Care Guidelines are a real feather in all of our caps. We had a very diverse group of participants with very different business agendas, tied together by nothing more than a passionate love of animals, sitting in a never-ending series of meetings over more than two years trying to develop a plan for the good of the industry.
The easy way out would have been to pick on some area outside of our business and blame all of the issues we face on that group, or the fates or whatever. But we didn’t. We decided, as a group, that before we go pointing fingers at others we better make sure we have our own house in order. As simple as that sounds it is not an easy thing to do. It demands acceptance of the fact that any one of us is not perfect. It could cost money. It will take some effort and time. But the impressive thing over the course of those meetings was the fact that everyone stayed involved. No one got up and left.
So much for patting ourselves on the back. As many of you have seen, we have as a coalition produced a couple of very impressive documents that have been distributed to over 5,000 retail stores nationwide. It is a template for responsible handling of live animals in a retail environment.
Since the retail outlet is the first point where consumers are exposed to the products you all produce it is critically important that the consumer feel comfortable with the retailer. If the animals are dirty or not otherwise properly cared for then the consumer’s opinion of that retailer – along with the products in his or her store – is going to be less than what you are hoping for. We have taken the first step. Retailers were part of the group that helped develop these guides. Their comments and suggestions helped make sure that the guides were not only correct but they are also doable in the real world. The initial response from the recipients of the guides has been positive.
The next step is up to the retailers. They need to work with the guides and begin to apply the principals of good animal stewardship contained in the words. You can help by asking the retailers and distributors you do business with whether they are following the principals contained in the guides.
I know if it was my products sitting on the shelf I would want to maximize the probability that the overall buying experience would be positive. Feel good the next time you look in the mirror.
For more information about the Animal Care Guidelines, visit www.pijac.org