Unifying the Pet Industry: Ed Sayres, CEO of PIJAC has a ‘new’ Marketing idea

An example fo a curved slicker brush---generally, the right brush!

An example fo a curved slicker brush—generally, the right brush!

For those who don’t know, PIJAC is the Pet Industry Joint Advisory Council—the lobbying group for the  pet industry.  It encompasses commercial breeders, manufacturers, and retail pet shops.  Anyone in the  pet industry can join, if you want to support the status quo. This is what the pet industry doesn’t want you to see:

-if you think this video is overly sensational…do you think this was staged?  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jE5NFVU1a4k

And they also deny that this is typical:


PIJAC defends the bad practices of the pet industry. Although they  say they do education, what members pay them to do is lobby legislators on local, state and federal levels to  not allow those of us who object to inhumane treatment of animals to have more influence than the industry does.  They  have lobbied to make it illegal for us to  document on film inhumane treatment of animals.

This is the irony of the pet industry.  The industry sells the concept of love, care, animal husbandry, and compassion. What it does in reality is defend  worst practice and the  bad actors.  I am responding to a recent Op/Ed piece in Pet Business magazine (June 2015).  Something  people need to know  is that  Ed Sayres, the head of PIJAC, was recruited from the ASPCA :https://www.pijac.org/press/pijac-appoints-edwin-sayres-president-ceo    Yes! He was the head of the American Society for The Prevention of Cruelty to Animals,  a humane organization, to head a lobbying group whch, if you come down to it, has opposite intentions of a humane group.


Looks like the board of directors of the ASPCA has some explaining to do on this past hire—and I, again, want to remind people who want to help animals to not fall for marketing flim flam and  keep their donations to local groups that they can actually visit, and ask their boards  what they really do to  care for animals.

In  a recent opinion piece  in Pet Business, Sayres addresses what he—and the industry in general  as the  problem:  animal rights people. Pet Business: http://www.petbusiness.com/articles/2015-05-28/Unifying-the-Pet-Industry

When you  don’t understand who the enemy is—the opposition, as how YOU see them, and not as how they are, you are fighting an entity that does not exist.  You can’t solve the problem.  I’ve said this to animal rights activists as well.

What’s the issue? Well, the  animal rights/welfare people paint all  pet breeders with the same broad brush, and claim that because hobby breeders are selling puppies, animals in shelters are not finding homes.  This is laughable. Why? The people looking for a purebred puppy are looking for a specific type of dog of a specific age. In fact, very few  purposely bred pups from either hobby breeders or  puppy mills actually end up in shelters (the purebreds  don’t end up in shelters until they are mature, and only in  certain parts of the country do those  unsold mill bred pups wind up in shelters—I’ve written about how Wright-Way in Morton Grove, Illinois,  gets their puppies, for example.  I am sure other ‘rescues’ follow the same business model).  If you want those people  who  are searching for  a specific  puppy to consider the shelter adult dog, you had better market that shelter adult dog better.  However,  if your goal is a fantasy, you are not helping those adult shelter dogs find homes.  Also, to tell me that I could not really care about dogs as long as I support planned breeding, you clearly don’t understand the problem, and have alienated me as a supporter and donor!

What I would always do is ask people searching for a puppy:  why not consider an adult dog?  Particularly if they work outside the home over  six hours a day, they will never get the dog housebroken.  As to cats, there is no guarantee that a kitten will mature to be an engaged adult cat—especially if it is alone most of the day.  If the dog seeker is not addressing  coat care and  training,  they should be discouraged from choosing any pet.  Unloved/unwanted pets are dying, and it is not the fault of the pet seeker, but those many backyard breeders who are NOT being held accountable by anybody!

On the other side of the spectrum,  Mr. Sayres is also painting anyone opposed to the sale of live animals in pet stores as animal rights activists—and liars.  He didn’t call us do-gooders, vegans, or naive…but we are all  under the same umbrella. It’s as as though we should see  animal rights activists as all dues payers to People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals who are upholding their agenda. This is also laughable.  Can you not care about animals and not be discounted?

I see my self as a steward  for my pets.  Most people who seek a pet know they are responsible for  its care.  Most  don’t know how to find a healthy pet. It’s a fact  that many animals destined to be sold as pets die of stress and inhumane handling.  Morbidity is   a fact in the pet industry.  Animals get stressed by temperature, lack of food and water in transport, injury.  They are not humanely euthanized upon arrival, but trashed—and Sayres knows this and  PIJAC never addresses this.  Another dirty secret they (pet industry managers) never address is what happens to animal that don’t get sold. Are they sent back to the breeders?  Dumped at shelters? Killed?  I guess it depends on the individual pet store.  Because  these are issues, and because retail managers know their client base, many now don’t sell dogs or cats…but do sell  ‘lesser’ animals (rabbits, ferrets, guinea pigs, chinchilla…mice & rats…then herps, birds, fish).  Do these animals deserve less consideration?  Is their pain any less when they are injured or stressed in shipment, then not humanely euthanized?

In his essay in Pet Business: http://www.petbusiness.com/articles/2015-05-28/Unifying-the-Pet-Industry, Sayres  speaks about  how poorly the American Public regards the industry.  He claims the industry  is not ‘getting the story out’ on how competent and caring  the industry is, and that a  new partnership with the PET LEADERSHIP COUNCIL will change all that.

Competency?  I think not.  This is my experience  virtually every day, as a dog groomer:  New client comes in with a small dog wearing a harness attached to a ‘Flexi’ leash.  Because a harness is designed so a dog can lead an owner without feeling physical restraint, this is exactly what the dog is doing….but doesn’t know where to go, so he is dragging the owner  all over.  The owner can’t control the dog.  Even going through an obedience training class run by a pet store (that has sold the owner the harness and Flexi), the owner has failed to get control of the dog.  While it is true that neither the collar nor the leash  trains the dog, having a proper fitting collar and a 6 foot leash make it much easier for the owner to get the dog’s attention.  However, because of the dynamics of the harness, the Flexi, poor mentoring of the  owner as amateur trainer, as well as  the  genetic temperament of most small dogs, the owner has failed to be able to communicate with the dog. The owner is disappointed, and while they  most likely will not dump the dog in a shelter (unless they move,  ‘have a lifestyle change’, get too busy. or …), they will NOT get another dog because owning one is too expensive, too much work,  not enjoyable…and the kids are gone.

The wrong brush for most dogs is the top selling  brush style in America---thanks to the idiots who  manage pet shops!

The wrong brush for most dogs is the top selling brush style in America—thanks to the idiots who manage pet shops!

For over a decade I have been asking  why pet shops don’t sell martingale collars instead of prong collars or harnesses, why they  don’t sell standard leashes rather than promote Flexis, why they  don’t  teach their managers and employees how to use grooming equipment and sell proper slicker brushes rather than  the double sided pin/bristle brushes,  & we can ask why  they don’t SCREEN prospective pet owners  about what their  lifestyles are like and what their expectations for a pet are.

The reason  they don’t do it  RIGHT is because they are retail managers selling products, not animal lovers, and not thinking long term.

There is another way.  Retail managers can  partner with dog clubs as they are starting to do with  animal rescues, and invite the clubs in to  talk about their breeds, and  the club members can advise retail managers about the equipment  to sell that would do the most good. And…they can stop selling pets as livestock.

Unfortunately, the plan is now to sell their competency, or rather, rebrand  their lack of competency, and to continue blaming animal rights activists for the decline of the image of the industry.

So, I have to remind PIJAC ans Ed Sayres of this.  I AM ALSO THE PET INDUSTRY, and it is embarrassing to have to tell  people that they trusted the wrong people: you.




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