News Keep Our Pet Shops Open Plea From Trade Bodies

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‘Keep our pet shops open’ plea from trade bodies
20th March 2020

By Karen Pickwick

UK pet trade bodies have today written to the government seeking assurance that pet shops will be regarded as essential retailers and be allowed to remain open in any shutdown.

The initiative was co-ordinated by the Pet Food Manufacturers’ Association (PFMA) and signatories include REPTA, the Ornamental Aquatic Trade Association (OATA) and the Pet Industry Federation (PIF).

We reproduce the letter to Lord Gardiner of Kimble, Parliamentary Under Secretary of State for Rural Affairs and Biosecurity, in full below.

“The pet care sector stands in solidarity with the measures recently taken by Government to protect the public against the coronavirus pandemic.

“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 nine million dogs, 7.5 million cats, two million small mamals, one million pet birds, 800,000 reptiles and around four million aquaria.

SOURCE OF COMFORT

“Many people 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.

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.

“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 by specialist pet shops.

“Many items in the specialist pet sector are also time-limited, perishable goods (livefood supplies to the reptile sector, for example) and so any consideration should also look to maintain the integrity of supply chains to pet shops as well as the outlets themselves, wholesalers for example.

MAJOR CONSEQUENCES

“One major UK retailer is experiencing 50% higher demand than the same period last year, which clearly demonstrates the consumer’s 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.

Tell us what you think? Have you experienced panic-buying this week and are stocks holding up. email us at editor@pbwnews.com or post on the pet business world Facebook page.