Eleven pet trade and welfare bodies have come together to call on Government to consider pet welfare during Coronavirus crisis planning, particularly focusing on the need for specialist pet shops to be exempt from any mandatory retail closures.
In a letter to Defra, they urged Government not to overlook the needs of the nation’s pets.
Letter to Lord Gardiner
The pet care sector stands in solidarity with the measures recently taken by Government to protect the public against the coronavirus pandemic.
Pets provide a source of comfort and joy during challenging times
As a nation of pet lovers with almost half of UK households owning a pet (41%), it is important that we consider the wellbeing of the pet population too. The pet population includes an estimated 9 million dogs, 7.5 million cats, 2 million small mammals, 1 million pet birds, 800,000 reptiles and around 4 million aquaria.
Many people will have to stay at home and limit their trips for a period ahead. In these difficult times, and more than ever, their pets will be a source of comfort and bring them many benefits both physically and psychologically.
The risk of unintended consequences
We are aware that retail closures are a potential emergency measure under consideration and are concerned about the unintended consequences for animal health and welfare should pet businesses be subject to closure. We acknowledge the need for social distancing and self-isolation but are concerned about the additional challenges this will create for many vulnerable people in caring for their pets.
Vital to safeguard the health of the nation’s pets
To safeguard the health and welfare of the nation’s pets, the continued provision of key supplies of feed, medicines, bedding and husbandry supplies is vital for fish, birds, reptiles and small mammals, as well as for cats and dogs. In the possible instance of business closures, we urge you to consider sufficient flexibility for suppliers of essential animal care products and to ensure that all businesses that provide products or services for the care of pets are able to remain operational throughout any emergency closures.
Whilst food stores/supermarkets may be permitted to stay open, they only partially meet the dietary needs of some pets, however, not all pets and all needs. The vast majority of specialist pet food, supplements and even some medication required to keep pets healthy is sold to pet owners via specialist pet shops.
Surging in demand
One major UK retailer is experiencing 50% higher demand than the same period last year, which clearly demonstrates the consumers need for pet food and other care items at this challenging time.
Forcing these specialist shops and veterinary practices to close will shut down access to vital supplies and this could have major consequences for animal health and welfare. The pet care sector therefore calls on Government to ensure flexibility in the provision of vital services and to exempt pet care suppliers from any mandatory closures.
The organisations included:
- Animal Health Distributors Association (AHDA)
- Animal Medicines Training Regulatory Authority (AMTRA)
- British Veterinary Zoological Society (BVZS)
- Canine Feline Sector Group (CFSG)
- Companion Animal Sector Council (CASC)
- National Office of Animal Health (NOAH)
- Ornamental Aquatic Trade Association (OATA)
- Pet Food Manufacturers’ Association (PFMA)
- Pet Industry Federation (PIF)
- Reptile and Exotic Pet Trade Association (REPTA)
- The Pet Charity