January 2007 / Issue 13

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PIJAC Perspectives

Best Management Practices for Dogs and Cats Are on the Horizon in 2007
Reprinted from December 2006 PIJAC Pet Letter

On the heels of the pet industry’s national distribution of Animal Care Guidelines for the Retail Pet Industry PIJAC is initiating Best Management Practices (BMPs) for the sale of dogs and cats.  These standards are intended to apply to breeders, commercial distributors of dogs and cats and the pet stores that sell them.  PIJAC’s Marshall Meyers stated that the BMPs “will reflect industry-wide standards, from the whelping box to the living room,” and publication of the standards will represent the continuing advancement of professionalism in the American pet trade.

BMPs detail industry recommendations for appropriate care and handling of companion animals.  Although voluntary in nature, they demonstrate industry values and provide individual members with an effective guideline for meeting or exceeding national standards.  Kennel and professional distributors products will be modeled after USDA requirements adopted pursuant to the Animal Welfare Act, as well as state regulatory systems throughout the country.  These will be further supplemented with commonly accepted protocols employed by leading pet stores.

Components of the BMPs will include:

  • Housing standards
  • Sanitation protocols (both for animals and the people interacting with them)
  • Appropriate husbandry requirements
  • Veterinary protocols
  • GI treatments
  • Immunization regimes
  • Treatments for parasites and skin care

Integral to the program will be mechanisms to facilitate achieving its goals, including checklists and inspection forms, as well as a record-keeping system.  It will also encompass procedures for ensuring compliance with federal and state requirements, effective training, and provisions for consulting veterinarians.

In developing these BMPs, PIJAC is soliciting the participation of breeders, distributors and retailers alike.  Those who operate quality facilities may share these best practices with their peers by submitting relevant information to PIJAC’s Best Management Practices Committee.  Persons throughout the pet industry are invited to offer their recommendations on what should be in the BMPs, including not just substantive standards but also tools for effective implementation, such as forms and checklists.  By providing this input, members of the industry will demonstrate ownership over the BMPs, actually helping to design and implement them.

If BMPs are voluntary, one might ask, why participate in their development and adoption? The reasons are many.  The simple, and perhaps foremost, answer is that this process will promote a high standard of care for the companion animals that represent the heart of the pet industry.  As such, it will enhance the image of the trade, elevating further a professionalism that has enjoyed progressive growth over many years.  But in addition, it goes directly to the bottom line.

Healthy animals result in happy customers, and nothing drives a business successfully than assuring that customers return… and send their friends!  But the BMPs will also help facilitate regulatory compliance, not only contributing to the growth of business but ensuring one can remain in business.

Development of BMPs for dogs and cats will commence in 2007, but PIJAC envisions ongoing initiatives to establish BMPs for other types of pets as well.  With the pet industry beset on all sides by demands and attacks, these initiatives will serve as valuable tools to demonstrate to regulators and the public alike that the pet industry is serious about achieving the highest standards.  Institution of Best Management Practices in the pet industry will be good for the pets, good for the industry and good for your business.