The head of a leading pet trade organisation has hit back at claims that the industry needs to take a more ethical approach to business.
Chris Newman, chairperson of the Reptile and Exotic Pet Trade Association, said: “Every sustainable and successful pet company will tell you that constantly raising welfare standards and pushing forward to create better products is the only way to do well in this business.”
Chris was responding to a story in last week’s Pet Trade Xtra in which the recently formed Ethical Pet Industry Federation claimed that some key companies believed the pet trade’s business models were incompatible with an ethical approach.
He said: “It’s clear the organisation making the statement has an anti pet-trade position and is apparently associated with animal rights extremists.
“I smelled a rat almost immediately, when I read the statement there is a high level of anxiety in the pet trade because raising ethical standards might not be good for business. I’d be interested to see the facts and data that gave birth to this statement. Who, within the trade, is anxious, I wonder? Every sustainable and successful pet company will tell you that constantly raising welfare standards and pushing forward to create better products is the only way to do well in this business.
“I also take exception to several other points in the piece, starting with the name of the organisation, which I assume to be a business. The use of the word ‘confederation’ suggests that EPIC is a union of several other organisations. Their website offers no suggestion that this is the case. More to the point, to call oneself an Ethical Pet Trade Confederation is to suggest that the established organisations are NOT ethical, and this is offensive to those who work hard on behalf of the established pet trade.
“Looking at the five guiding principles of the group it appears the organisation has little understanding of how ethical and sustainable welfare standards are achieved in the pet trade.
“Opposition to wild-sourced animals is naïve, impractical and damaging to conservation and animal welfare. Sustainable and ethical utilisation is the cornerstone of many conservation efforts, a principle that is so universally accepted that the right to do so is legally protected. Sustainable utilisation protects wild populations and provides an ethical source of income for many families in the developing world. The end of sustainable utilisation would cause damage and suffering, not only to the people who make a living in the animals’ country of origin, but also cause damage to habitats and harm the welfare of the animals themselves. I suggest the organisation’s stakeholders read the contents of the Rio Convention of Bio Diversity and amend their position accordingly.
“Another of EPIC’s guiding principles is to cut out the pet trade from the supply chain, promoting transfer directly from the animal’s breeder to the new owner. It’s worth remembering that pet stores are registered, inspected and open to public scrutiny. The suggestion to do away with pet stores selling livestock would only serve to push pet sales to the internet and away from any scrutiny at all. I would suggest that this would be massively detrimental to welfare and, as a principle for an ‘ethical’ organisation, it is poorly thought out.
“It is the opinion of many industry experts and governing bodies that the UK enjoys perhaps the greatest welfare standards of any pet trade in the world, and we should be proud and celebrate this. The knowledge and advancements for which the UK pet trade is renowned should not be undermined by a poorly constructed organisation that pretends to represent the industry with ill-thought-out principles.”