B.C. HENSCHEN, a certified pet care technician
and an accredited pet trainer, is a partner in
PLATINUM PAWS, a full-service pet salon and
premium pet food store in Carmel, Ind. His
knowledge of the pet food industry makes Platinum Paws the go-to store for pet owners who
want more for their pet than a bag off a shelf.
To Buy or Not to Buy?
Nothing stirs up controversy in our industry quite like the
question of whether or not stores should sell pets.
PERSPECTIVES & OPINIONS FROM AROUND THE INDUSTRY
BY B.C. HENSCHEN
Nothing seems to ignite more controversy in the pet industry than discussing the breeding and buying of pets. Some pet stores that sell pets have come
under fire because their stock might be coming from
“puppy mills” or unethical breeders. Many in animal
welfare urge the slogan “adopt; don’t shop.”
I have a friend who is a wonderful poodle breeder.
She loves the breed, she breeds for the right reasons, and
she happens to own a pet store. If you visit her shop, you
might see some poodles for sale. Should we condemn her
store because she sells dogs? How about the store where
the owner specifically picks local breeders he personally
knows and has inspected their operations? Should we
picket his store and see if we can put him out of business?
I don’t think so; but I doubt many in the animal rescue
world would agree.
I don’t think anyone in the pet industry is truly against
someone buying a dog. What most people are against are
puppy mills and unethical breeders. In some areas of the
country, local government agencies have decided to go
after puppy mills by prohibiting pet stores from selling
pets. Sounds great on paper; but in reality, what happens
is that the buyer just leaves their local store and heads to
the internet. The puppy mills do not go away because
of a pet store ban; they just change their marketing techniques. There have been several cases where rescue organizations were found to be completely bogus and just
fronts for puppy mills. There have also been several cases where puppy mills have employed people and their
homes, and then put out a Craigslist listing. People visit
the house and think they’re dealing with a nice couple
when really they’re just a front for the mill.
In a perfect world, if a person has made the decision to
add a pet to their family and a rescue or a shelter doesn’t
offer what they are looking for, they should look for a
reputable breeder. The person should research the breed,
visit the breeder, understand what is and isn’t being done
with the puppies prior to their leaving the mom, and en-
sure both parents are friendly and have undergone exten-
sive health screenings. A good breeder won’t just sell you
a puppy—a good breeder ensures you are the right home
for the puppy and should always be willing to take that
animal back if things don’t work out.
Unfortunately, this rarely happens. People fall in love
with a cute face; they don’t know that they should ask
about health or socialization practices. They get dogs
from accidental breedings or made-up breeds with false
papers making them sound as if they are a recognized
dog breed. Also, people are impatient. They want a puppy now, not two years from now when the perfect puppy
for them might be born.
Stores that choose to sell pets must have some success;
otherwise I don’t think anyone would take on the negative connotation that comes with selling pets in a store.
For various reasons, our industry does need dogs available for purchase. The question is: Can that be accomplished responsibly and ethically in a pet store?
Canine Care Certified is a voluntary program that
sets rigorous standards for professional breeders. The
program was developed based on research that was con-
ducted by Purdue University’s Center for Animal Wel-
fare Science and led by the center’s director, Dr. Candace
Croney. Administered by nonprofit organization Center
for Canine Welfare, the program is a very interesting pro-
gram because it not only sets standards on care, but it
also addresses environment and behavior, and even sets
breeding limits. Canine Care Certified also has indepen-
dent auditing that eliminates the possibilities of someone
“faking” their way to certification.
Ultimately, however, even with the Canine Care Certified endorsement, those pets are still coming from commercial breeding operations and everything in my gut
screams “No!” But in saying “no,” am I just forcing those
individuals who are bound and determined to buy a dog
into looking for a dog where there is no oversight, like
on Craigslist? If stores that sell pets start to demand that
all their breeders are Canine Care Certified, that’s a good
start, right? I suppose that would mean only the cream of
the crop commercial breeders would be supplying stores.
Will that mean the downfall of true puppy mills?
If we look at the amount of stores that sold pets 20
years ago compared to today, it’s just a fraction of what it
used to be, but commercial breeding operations are at an
all-time high. In 2012, there were 2,356 licensed breeders
compared to 2,654 today, according to the United States
Department of Agriculture (USDA). Those numbers do
not include the unlicensed breeders, which are suspected
to be in the thousands and on the rise. So, I’m not sure the
majority of business for commercial breeders is coming
from pet stores.
If you sell pets or not, education is still the key. Let
your customers know how to pick a good breeder and
help them with that. Host “meet the breed” type events
where consumers can meet a good breeder and the breed.
Make sure you spread the word about the deceptive practices that puppy mills use.
TDBBS, a Rich-
with a portfolio of
brands that includes Best Bully
Sticks, Barkworthies and Paw
Luxury, appointed TIM HASSETT
Hassett’s hiring follows a
growth investment in the company
by middle market private equity
firm Bregal Partners.
Hassett joins the company from
Beam Suntory, where he was president—Americas. He previously
spent 10 years at Campbell Soup as
chief customer officer for the North
America business, and also served
at Kellogg’s and Procter & Gamble.
He joins TDBBS with an excep-
tional track record of successfully
growing global, consumer-focused
businesses, TDBBS officials said.
Charles Yoon, managing partner
at Bregal Partners, said that Bregal
had targeted the pet industry as
an area of focus over the past two
“We see a clear path for
TDBBS to leverage its portfolio
of high-quality products to take
advantage of tailwinds surrounding
the growing natural treats and
chews category,” Yoon said. “As
consumers increasingly demand
products for their pets, there is
a notable opportunity to build
greater awareness of the benefits
of natural chews and drive new
product innovation. We intend to
continue investing behind our team
and infrastructure as we transform
the natural chews category.”
Central Garden & Pet Co. in Walnut
Creek, Calif., appointed MIKE
EDWARDS as an independent
director to the company’s board of
Edwards most recently served
as the CEO and president of
eBags. Previously, he worked as
executive vice president of global
merchandising for Staples, where
he was responsible for merchan-
dising strategy and new business
development, managing the global
private label and innovation teams
across 26 countries. Prior to that,
Edwards served as president and
CEO of Borders.
He has held numerous other
senior management roles with
retailers and has also worked with
a number of startups, serving
as chairman or CEO to those