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PIJAC Announces Industry Care Standards for Small Animals

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They’re designed to assure proper care of small mammals, reptiles and birds.

(Press Release) LAS VEGAS, NV — The Pet Industry Joint Advisory Council (PIJAC) and leaders from across the pet community have unveiled an initiative to help assure proper care of small companion animals. The PIJAC Small Animal Standards of Care (SAC) is the first comprehensive set of voluntary standards for breeders and distributors of small mammals, reptiles and birds.

Pet industry leaders, animal care experts, veterinarians, and others have worked together for over a year to evaluate Animal Welfare Act regulations, existing animal care policies and companion animal care best practices.

Their goal was to address a gap in animal welfare – a lack of regulations surrounding birds and reptiles – and to align best practices for the care of small mammals at breeders and distributors. The result of this collaboration are the SAC standards, which are a rigorous, substantive program to assure the health and well-being of small companion animals.

“This truly was a collective effort to create and launch the first national set of robust guidelines for the care of small companion animals being raised by breeders and distributors of animals,” said Mike Bober, president and CEO of PIJAC. “These standards incorporate current best practices, science, and data into a single set of high-level standards to help ensure the welfare of these animals; to provide critical animal care guidance for breeders, distributors, and employees; and to demonstrate our shared commitment to assuring responsibility and appropriate animal care at all times.”

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Bober and PIJAC Board Chair Laura “Peach” Reid worked closely with pet industry leaders for more than one year to create the standards. “PIJAC’s diverse membership enabled our committee to secure input and evaluation from experts representing all sectors within our pet community,” said Reid, who also chairs the PIJAC Small Animal Care Committee. “The SAC standards for birds, small mammals, and reptiles will allow all who care for these pets to hold themselves to the same high standards for best practices.”

The standards are a compilation of federal Animal Welfare Act regulations, veterinary review, and existing industry best practices with a firm grounding in science and data. Standards are divided into sections on facilities, care practices, and transport to address all stages of animal care by breeders and distributors. Guidelines for record-keeping and staffing procedures also are included.

The standards also codify best practices for the care of reptiles and birds, which are not regulated under the federal Animal Welfare Act. By creating industry expectations for care, the standards will ensure proper nutrition, veterinary care, and other best practices are provided for these animals.

“A critical measure included in the standards is the establishment of new guidelines for biosecurity and facility security,” said Bober. “The standards for these areas are general enough to account for the individual circumstances in which each breeder and distributor may find themselves, but specific enough to provide effective guidance above and beyond the requirements of the Animal Welfare Act for disease prevention, health and well-being and site management.”  

Specific elements of the standards include, but are not limited to, care provisions addressing housing, water and air quality, lighting and temperature control, feed and nutrition, cleanliness and sanitation, biosecurity, veterinary care, quarantine of sick animals, euthanasia, and much more. Standards also address the humane transport of small animals, including handling and receiving, animal carriers, shipping, space per animal, safety, and temperature control.

As an added measure of assurance within the program, two complementary programs focused on animal care by the employees of breeders and distributors accompany the introduction of the standards: a Duty of Care policy and a toll-free hotline.

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The Duty of Care template is designed to be adopted by breeders and distributors for their employees to sign. Signing the code affirms that employees understand and share their employers’ commitment to the SAC standards and agree to care for animals according to those standards.

The animal care toll-free hotline provides an anonymous method for any employee of a breeder or distributor to confidentially report animal abuse or mistreatment, without concern for retaliation, so that all claims can be investigated thoroughly, and disciplinary actions can be taken as needed.

“Empowering employees with the resources and education to recognize and report animal mistreatment or care issues makes this program even more meaningful – and will ensure proper care across the entire breeding and distribution channel,” said Bober.

SAC standards are the first of what is anticipated to be additional developments in the area of small animal care.

Program leaders anticipate that over time, the now-voluntary standards may be expanded as part of a continuous improvement process, and verification of compliance with the standards may be affirmed through third-party, independent audits.

An executive summary, as well as the full set of comprehensive SAC standards, is available online at www.PIJAC.org.

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Dog Wanted: DOGTV Seeks Chief Puppy Officer

The winning candidate could become Instafamous.

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LOS ANGELES — DOGTV, a 24/7 digital TV channel for dogs, announced that it is looking for dog candidates to serve as the first-ever Chief Puppy Officer this year.

“We are thrilled to offer pet parents this unique chance to make their dog a pet influencer on Instagram,” said Beke Lubeach, general manager at DOGTV. “We’ve partnered with several popular social media influencers to provide the CPO’s dog parent with insight, tips, and training to help grow their pet’s Instagram account. This is our first time selecting a CPO and we look forward to working with the winner to spread the word about bringing joy to pups through DOGTV.”

The full benefits awarded for the dog selected as CPO include:

To be considered for the role of CPO, applicants must meet the following qualifications:

  • Be a pup of any age.
  • Be a fan of DOGTV.
  • Have an Instagram account (or their person needs to be willing to create one).
  • Love their human unconditionally and live to make them happy.

This contest coincides with DOGTV’s first-ever puppy takeover, called Puppies Gone Wild. During the week leading up to the Big Game on Feb. 2, puppies are taking over the channel. DOGTV is accepting applications for the CPO from now through Saturday, Feb. 1, at DOGTV.com/puppies. Applicants are encouraged to have their family and friends vote to increase their chances of being selected as the CPO. The identity of the dog selected to serve in this role will be revealed on DOGTV’s Instagram on Tuesday, Feb. 4.

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Feds Consider Cracking Down on Emotional Support Animals on Flights

Under proposed rules, only dogs could be classified as service animals.

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WASHINGTON – The U.S. Department of Transportation is considering a set of rules under which emotional support animals would no longer be classified as service animals.

The rules are intended to “ensure that individuals with disabilities can continue using their service animals while also reducing the likelihood that passengers wishing to travel with their pets on aircraft will be able to falsely claim their pets are service animals,” according to a press release from the department.

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The Washington Post notes that the proposed rules “narrow the definition of service animal to dogs that have received individualized training to do work or perform tasks for a person with a disability.” A psychiatric service animal would be classified as a service animal “and require the same training and treatment of psychiatric service animals as other service animals,” according to the department.

Department of Transportation officials “noted that the proposed rule doesn’t prohibit people from flying with emotional support animals but the decision will be left to the airlines,” according to the Post.

The agency is seeking public comment on proposed amendments to its Air Carrier Access Act regulation on the transportation of service animals by air.

The department proposes to:

  • Define a service animal as a dog that is individually trained to do work or perform tasks for the benefit of a person with a disability;
  • No longer consider an emotional support animal to be a service animal;
  • Consider a psychiatric service animal to be a service animal and require the same training and treatment of psychiatric service animals as other service animals;
  • Allow airlines to require forms developed by DOT attesting to a service animal’s good behavior, certifying the service animal’s good health, and if taking a long flight attesting that the service animal has the ability to either not relieve itself, or can relieve itself in a sanitary manner;
  • Allow airlines to require passengers with a disability who are traveling with a service animal to check-in at the airport one hour prior to the travel time required for the general public to ensure sufficient time to process the service animal documentation and observe the animal;
  • Require airlines to promptly check-in passengers with service animals who are subject to an advanced check-in process;
  • Allow airlines to limit the number of service animals traveling with a single passenger with a disability to two service animals;
  • Allow airlines to require a service animal to fit within its handler’s foot space on the aircraft;
  • Continue to allow airlines to require that service animals be harnessed, leashed, tethered, or otherwise under the control of its handler;
  • Continue to allow airlines to refuse transportation to service animals that exhibit aggressive behavior and that pose a direct threat to the health or safety of others; and
  • Continue to prohibit airlines from refusing to transport a service animal solely on the basis of breed.

The department’s notice can be found here. Comments must be received within 60 days of the notice, which was issued Jan. 22.

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US Pet Food Spending Falls to $28.9B

The segment accounts for 37% of total US pet spending.

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Pet food spending in the U.S. fell by 7.3 percent in 2018 to $28.85 billion, according to the Pet Business Professor blog.

The $2.27 billion decrease stood in contrast to 2017, when food spending grew by $4.6 billion “due to a deeper market penetration of super premium foods,” the blog’s John Gibbons writes.

A small increase in pet food spending had been anticipated in 2018. The unexpected decrease “was likely due to the reaction to the FDA warning on grain free dog food,” Gibbons explained, noting: “A pattern of over 20 years was broken by 1 statement.”

Pet food spending has been choppy since 1997, with the general pattern being “2 years up then spending goes flat or turns downward for a year,” according to the blog.

Total pet spending in the U.S. climbed by 1.9 percent in 2018 to reach $78.6 billion, according to the blog. The pet food segment accounts for 37 percent of total U.S. pet spending.

 

 

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