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Pet Sellers Lobby

By Claudia Kawczynska, March 2013, Updated June 2021

Few, outside of the pet “industry,” have probably heard of the trade organization PIJAC—Pet Industry Joint Advisory Council.  Part of their mission is to “ensure the availability of pets,”  [in pet stores] because, as one of their members notes on a promotional video, “... without the sale of pets, there is no pet industry.” PIJAC is about to host their annual meeting in Napa, California in April. Looking through their conference agenda was an eye opener. It leads off with what is sure to be a lively, but rather one-sided, panel discussion. (I called around to various national humane organizations but it doesn’t look like they were invited to share their views.)

The Future of Pets in Pet Stores
With a plethora of dog and cat retail sale bans confronting the nation, what does the future hold for pet stores selling live animals? Will retailers be able to sell goldfish and hamsters in the future? How does the sale of live animals affect a retailer’s bottom line? If pet stores can no longer sell pets, will pet populations decline (and therefore the need for pet food and pet products)? Find out the answers in this lively panel discussion.

It was interesting looking through their list of attendees, the Hunte Corporation (one of the largest puppy producing/mill businesses), is represented, as too is the lobbyist Rick Berman, of Humane Watch, aptly named because it mostly targets, i.e. “watches” the HSUS (see this New York Times article about Berman).

One of the many ways you can combat the lobbying power that groups like the PIJAC weld, is by supporting stores who sponsor or host pet adoptions from local shelters and rescue groups. Or by supporting programs like the ASPCA’s “No Pet Store Puppies” campaign aimed at reducing the demand for puppy mill puppies by urging consumers to pledge not to buy any items—including food, supplies or toys—from stores or websites that sell puppies. You can also tell your elected representatives to support The Puppy Uniform Protection and Safety (PUPS) Act, that was recently reintroduced by U.S. Sens. Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) and David Vitter (R-La.), Reps. Jim Gerlach (R-Pa.), Sam Farr (D-Calif.), Bill Young (R-Fl.) and Lois Capps (D-Calif.). This bill will provide a measure of protection to dogs sold online. It would require commercial breeders who sell their puppies directly to the public, sight unseen, to be licensed and inspected by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA). Currently, only breeders who sell dogs to pet stores or to puppy brokers are subject to federal oversight (what there is of it) but breeders who sell directly to consumers, whether via the Internet, newspaper classifieds, or other outlets, are exempt from any federal oversight due to a “retail pet store” exemption.


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Claudia Kawczynska is The Bark's co-founder and Editor-in-Chief.