Responsible Retailing

Help protect the health of your staff, animals and customers with a new Pet Store Pro chapter about zoonotic disease prevention.


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As part of the pet care community, you are aware of the positive health effects of pet ownership. The emotional and physical benefits of owning one or more companion animals—which over two-thirds of American households do—are scientifically proven, and far outweigh any health risks.

 

But our role in bringing pets and the products to care for them together with loving families and individuals means we also have a responsibility to do everything we can to reduce the spread of zoonotic diseases. Also known as zoonoses, these are diseases caused by bacteria, viruses and parasites that can be transferred between animals and humans.

 

While zoonotic disease outbreaks are rare within the vast scope of the pet population, it is vitally important that our trade takes proactive and visible steps to protect human and animal health wherever possible. When there is an outbreak, not only are the infected humans and animals impacted, but the reputation of the pet care community can also be affected.

 

We at the Pet Industry Joint Council (PIJAC) have long recognized the importance of preventing the transmission of diseases from pets to people. Over 10 years ago, we established a memorandum of understanding with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to serve as the pet industry’s liaison on public health issues and zoonotic disease prevention. Since then, we’ve collaborated with the CDC along with specialists, experts and others across the pet care, veterinary and health care communities to inform, educate and improve the animal care practices of the pet care community and the public.

 

At the SuperZoo trade show in Las Vegas in August, we were proud to preview our latest educational resource aimed at zoonotic disease prevention.

 

In partnership with the Pet Industry Distributors Association (PIDA), we created a new Zoonoses Prevention chapter for PIDA’s popular Pet Store Pro online training program. Pet Store Pro provides free, reliable training resources to independent pet and pet product retailers and their staff, offering over 30 topics covering retail basics and pet care for associates and management.

 

A disease outbreak in your pet store can be devastating to your staff, animals and customers. It is essential that your employees be able to recognize what can make people and other pets sick, and take the necessary steps to avoid and report these issues to management.

 

To create the Zoonoses Prevention chapter’s content, the developers, including Dr. Tom Edling, DVM, MSpVM, MPH, leveraged a variety of fact-based and expert sources, such as the CDC’s “Healthy People, Healthy Pets” and PIJAC’s Zoonotic Disease Prevention Series for Retailers, among others.

 

The chapter provides in-depth information and images to illustrate proper hygiene and animal and animal product (such as food, bedding and waste) handling practices inside the store setting to minimize or eliminate the transmission of germs and bacteria. These include general cleaning guidelines, cautions for people with pre-existing conditions, hand washing protocols and recommendations for animal handling and enclosure sanitizing.

 

There are also species-specific sections describing diseases that may occur in dogs, cats, small animals, fish, birds, reptiles and amphibians. Information is provided to help store associates identify and explain human and pet symptoms of the diseases, and how to respond and report suspected zoonotic disease in both animals and humans.

 

Training employees on appropriate hygiene and animal handling practices, as well as communicating important pet care information to the public, is an essential part of being a responsible pet retailer. It also helps our pet care community maintain our reputation as a trustworthy, conscientious source of companion animals and the products and services to care for them.

 

One final note, please consider participating in the U.S. Pet Care Community D.C. Fly-In on Sept.18, when pet care professionals will show elected officials the extraordinary power of pets. Your lawmakers need to hear what is important to those of you whose livelihoods depend on them making well-informed decisions. Along with the meetings, there will be expert briefings and a complimentary reception, Pet Night on Capitol Hill. Fly-in registration is open until Sept. 13. Register for the fly-in, RSVP for the reception and access the hotel room block at pijac.org/dcflyin.

 

Your support as we work to educate, protect and advance the priorities of the pet care community is more important than ever. Please join us at pijac.org/join. PB

 

Savonne Caughey is the Pet Industry Joint Advisory Council’s Director of Government Affairs. She can be reached at savonne@pijac.org.

 

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