A Breed Apart

Pinnacle Pets' recent St. Puppy's Day breeder educational conference is one example of how various organizations are working to ensure the supply of healthy, well-bred companion animals.




No matter what type of pet business you have, your bottom line is affected by breeders. Whether you manufacture or distribute pet products, produce or sell pet food, groom or board dogs and cats, your business depends on healthy and well-bred companion animals—and those animals depend on responsible, informed breeders.


Recently, Pinnacle Pet hosted its annual St. Puppy’s Day breeder education conference in Neosho, Mo. This is one of several such annual conferences hosted by distributors like Pinnacle and Hunte Corporation, as well as breeder-focused organizations like the American Kennel Club’s Canine Health Foundation. In all cases, these events are aimed at informing breeders about advances and innovations in animal healthcare, better breeding practices and kennel maintenance.


“The breeders who attend these types of seminars are the ones that take their profession seriously,” said Chris Fleming, owner and operator of Pinnacle Pet. “They are eager and hungry for information that they can use to better themselves and their business. These are the breeders that are passionate about what they do and the animals they care for, and, despite activists’ and some legislators’ best efforts to stop them, they will continue to pursue their passion and apply the new ideas learned during these educational and networking seminars.”


The schedule of the one-day St. Puppy’s Day conference, now in its fifth year, bears this out. Immediately upon check-in, breeders were given a stack of handouts that included additional details on subjects covered by presenters.


They were encouraged to meet with the conference exhibitors, which had booths lining the room, representing everything from nutritional and healthcare products to registry organizations, microchip programs and distributors. But this wasn’t just some passive drop-by; most breeders took the time to ask probing questions about the products and services they were shown. They were looking for the must-haves that will improve their operations. Then it was on to a full day of speakers.


The speaker schedule began with a discussion of disinfectants and their applications by Dr. Scott Gartner, of the Pinnacle Veterinary Clinic. Dr. Don Bramlage, the director of veterinary services at Revival Animal Health, followed this up with a discussion of maternal genetics and their role in breeding. Additional speakers addressed topics such as marketing, health testing and maternal antibodies.


Each presentation was accompanied by slides and handouts that illustrated various points and elaborated on the topic at hand. Breeders listened intently and asked incisive questions throughout the day, gathering information they would bring back to their operations. When they weren’t focused on a speaker, the attendees made their way around the room, following up with exhibitors and networking with one another. By the time the conference wrapped up, the breeders went home with a virtual toolbox of best practices and an array of new contacts.


Of course, it wasn’t just a day full of presentations and paperwork. The St. Puppy’s Day conference also offered attendees opportunities to win door prizes, bid on items in a silent auction and enjoy a home-cooked barbecue lunch.


For the host—Pinnacle Pet—there are obvious benefits to holding this kind of educational conference, as well. It demonstrates a desire to help breeders improve their approach to animal care. It provides an opportunity to connect trusted exhibitors with a large number of breeders at the same time. And it shows retailers and customers that Pinnacle is committed to working with breeders who choose to continue their education on everything from nutrition to genetics to veterinary advances.


With all of the scrutiny and criticism directed at breeders, both large and small, you owe it to yourself to learn more about the people who breed your customers’ companion animals and their continued education. If you work directly with breeders, ask them what kinds of educational opportunities they take advantage of and how often. If your pet business is only tangentially related to breeding, you can take comfort in the knowledge that these kinds of programs are readily available and that many responsible breeders seek them out.


Either way, you can respond with confidence to your customers’ questions and concerns that responsible breeders, like responsible retailers and manufacturers, are constantly working to increase their knowledge and expertise when it comes to their livelihoods and the well-being of the animals they raise.



Mike Bober is vice president of government affairs for the Pet Industry Joint Advisory Council (PIJAC). Disclosure: Both Pinnacle Pet and the Hunte Corporation are represented on PIJAC’s Board of Directors, and PIJAC attended the St. Puppy’s Day conference as an exhibitor. For more information, visit pijac.org or email info@pijac.org.

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