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Lots of People Are Thinking About Vegan Diets for Their Pets, Study Suggests

Interest is especially high among owners who are vegan themselves.

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A surprising number of pet owners, particularly those who are vegan, are interested in feeding their pets a plant-based diet, according to new research.

Researchers with the University of Guelph’s Ontario Veterinary College, along with colleagues in New Zealand, conducted an online survey of 3,673 dog and cat owners from around the world to learn about what kinds of foods they fed their pets and themselves.

Published in the journal PLoS ONE, the survey found that 35 percent of owners whose pets ate conventional diets were interested in switching their animals to a vegan diet.

More than half of them (55 percent) added, though, that certain stipulations needed to be met before they would make the switch. Those stipulations included needing further evidence that a plant-based diet would meet their pets’ nutritional needs, wanting approval from their veterinarians and wanting plant-based pet foods to be easily available.

Just under 6 percent of the survey respondents were vegan — meaning they ate no meat, dairy or fish – and more than a quarter (27 percent) of them reported they already fed their pets plant-based diets.

Among the rest of the vegans, 78 percent were interested in helping their pets to switch to a plant-based diet if one were available that met their needs.

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Lead author Sarah Dodd, currently a PhD candidate at the OVC’s Department of Population Medicine, said even she was surprised by how many vegans had already chosen to eliminate meat from their pets’ diets.

“That percentage, 27 percent, might sound like a small number, but when you think of the actual numbers of pets involved, that’s huge, and much higher than we expected.”

In total, 1.6 percent of the 2,940 dogs in the survey and 0.7 percent of the 1,545 cats were being fed a strictly plant-based diet; only vegans and one vegetarian chose to exclusively feed plant-based diets.

Another 10.4 percent of the dogs and 3.3 percent of cats were intermittently fed vegetarian diets or plant-based foods.

Of the 3,673 pet owners surveyed, 6 percent were vegetarian (meaning they ate no meat but did eat dairy, eggs or honey), 4 percent were pescatarian (meaning they ate no meat but fish, and may eat dairy, eggs or honey), and nearly 6 percent were vegan (meaning they ate no animal products).

Dodd performed this study for her M.Sc. degree with professor Adronie Verbrugghe in OVC’s Department of Clinical Studies.

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Dodd said that while her team’s research was not designed to assess whether vegan pet diets are a growing trend, she expects interest in the diets to increase.

“People have been hearing about how vegan diets are linked to lowered risks of cancer and other health benefits in humans. There is also growing concern about the environmental impact of animal agriculture.”

Previous studies have also shown that pet owners tend to offer the same kind of diets to their dogs and cats that they adopt for themselves.

“So, while only a small proportion of pet owners are currently feeding plant-based diets to their pets, it is safe to say that interest in the diets is likely to grow.”

However, there has not been much research on the nutritional suitability of vegan diets for dogs and cats, nor on the health benefits and risks of plant-based diets in these animals, said Dodd.

“This study shows there is a clear need for further research in this area.”

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State Bill Would Ban Pet Leasing

A few other states already have similar laws.

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A proposed law in Connecticut would ban the practice of pet leasing.

The legislation seeks to outlaw leases in which the new pet owners accept high interest rates and believe they are agreeing to a payment plan, the Connecticut Post reports.

Such agreements open the possibility of the pet being repossessed at a later date, according to the publication.

The state Senate approved the ban last week. The proposed legislation will now be considered in the state House.

Bob Duff, a Democrat serving as Senate majority leader, said: “As a pet owner myself, I could never imagine leasing a pet and then after six or nine months or whatever it is, giving it back. They might actually think they own the pet instead of leasing the pet.”

According to the Post, pet leasing has already been banned in Nevada, California and New York.

The Connecticut proposal would still allow for certain types of pet leases, including “those for breeding purebred dogs, renting show animals or obtaining guide or law enforcement dogs,” according to the Post.

Find out more at the Connecticut Post 

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Chewy to Open $55M Facility, Creating 1,200 Jobs

It’s planning a fulfillment center.

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Chewy, an online pet supply retailer, has selected Rowan County, NC, for its new fulfillment center, with plans to create 1,200 new jobs and invest $55 million.

“Chewy selected North Carolina because from our infrastructure to our workforce, we have everything businesses need to succeed,” said Gov. Roy Cooper. “These new jobs will make a positive impact on Rowan County and the surrounding area.”

The e-commerce company will locate in Salisbury, NC.

Chewy is dually headquartered in Dania Beach, FL, and Boston, MA. It has customer service centers in Dallas, TX, and Hollywood, FL, and eight fulfillment centers around the country.

“We’re excited to expand Chewy’s fulfillment operations to North Carolina, our first in the state and ninth in the country,” said Pete Krilles, vice president, corporate real estate and facilities, for Chewy. “We greatly appreciate the partnership with the City of Salisbury, Rowan County, the Salisbury-Rowan Economic Development Commission, North Carolina Department of Commerce, and the Economic Development Partnership of North Carolina.

“We look forward to making a positive economic contribution to the region with the creation of 1,200 new jobs. In addition to job creation, our new fulfillment center will enhance our delivery network across the southeastern United States, allowing us to better service Chewy customers with even faster delivery times.”

“Companies like Chewy will find success in North Carolina because we have a strong workforce and desirable business climate,” said Secretary of Commerce Anthony M. Copeland. “Pair that with our location and quality of life and you’ve got a winning formula.”

The North Carolina Department of Commerce and the Economic Development Partnership of NC were instrumental in supporting the company’s expansion decision.

A performance-based grant of $166,650 from the One North Carolina Fund will support the creation of 150 of the new jobs, facilitating Chewy’s establishment of the facility in North Carolina. The One NC Fund provides financial assistance to local governments to help attract economic investment and to create jobs. Companies receive no money upfront and must meet job creation and capital investment targets to qualify for payment. All One NC grants require a matching grant from local governments and any award is contingent upon that condition being met.

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Pet Store Chain Files for Bankruptcy

Its owner died in January.

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Petland Discounts, a chain that operated in New York, Connecticut and New Jersey, has filed for Chapter 7 bankruptcy.

The action follows the January death of the company’s owner, Neil Padron.

The company has closed its stores.

Notices with each of the three states’ labor departments indicated that more than 300 jobs could be lost across 70 store locations.

The bankruptcy petition was filed in New York Eastern Bankruptcy Court.

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Padron started the business in 1965. He died of bladder cancer on Jan. 14.

Details of the bankruptcy case are available here.

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