Here we provide best management practices (“tools”) that can help minimize the risk of alien (non-native) species being released or escaping into the natural environment through the pet trade pathway.
Note: Many of these tools are “scalable” to different socio-economic and cultural contexts. They can be implemented through regulatory and/or non-regulatory measures. Please visit the How to Use page for more information.
Tool I: Risk Analysis
- Use science-based approaches to conduct a risk analysis of species in the pet trade – i.e. to determine how likely a species is to become invasive if it is introduced into the natural environment and what can be done to minimize this risk. A risk analysis involves three components: risk assessment, risk management and the overarching task of risk communication.
Tool II: Animal Inspection, Acclimation, and Quarantine Protocols/Plans
Goals: At various stages (e.g., import, distribution, retail) along the pet trade pathway animals are:
- Thoroughly inspected for external parasites, signs of disease, and “hitchhikers” (e.g., other animals or plants, soil, etc) in order to minimize the risk of biological invasion. [Note: housing and shipping containers are inspected as well].
- Acclimated to specific husbandry conditions in order to reduce stress factors which could make them more susceptible to pathogens and parasites.
- Quarantined to enable a) further inspection overtime and b) treatment of issues of concern.
Tool III: Biosecurity Measures: Housing, Packaging, and Handling
- Ensure that pets (as well as associated pathogens, parasites, or other hitchhikers) cannot escape from, or be transmitted through, industry facilities or during transport.
Tool IV: Industry Education/Outreach Campaigns
- Raise awareness within the pet industry (e.g., importers, distributors, retailers) of invasive alien species issues.
- Educate members of the pet industry on actions they can take to minimize the risk of biological invasion.
- Empower members of the industry to educate consumers on invasive alien species issues and responsible behaviors (e.g., pet choice, care, and placement).
Tool V: Species-Specific Care Sheets
- Provide pet owners with information on the proper care of specific types of pets so that they can a) determine if that species is the best choice of a pet and b) keep the pet healthy and adequately housed.
Tool VI: Customer Information and Record Keeping
- To be able to contact the customer if there is a need to inform them of relevant information (e.g., disease risk).
- Obtain written customer acknowledgement (signature) on a form that outlines specific care needs, risks, etc. relating to the pet purchased.
Tool VII: Codes of Conduct/Practice
- Provide a list and description of actions that can be taken by the industry and/or consumers to minimize the risk of pets being abandoned or escaping. In some cases, the codes also address aquatic plants and hitchhikers.
Tool VIII: Consumer Education/Outreach Campaigns
Goals: Use a comprehensive approach to:
- Raise awareness of the potential environmental, economic, and/or human health implications of pet abandonment (i.e. invasive alien species).
- Educate consumers on actions they can take to ensure a mutually beneficial relationship with their pets (i.e. proper choice of pet and care) so that the need/desire to give up the pet does not arise.
- Educate consumers on actions they can take as alternatives to pet abandonment if they do need/desire to give up their pet.
Tool IX : Rehoming and Amnesty Programs
- Find new, responsible homes for unwanted pets.
Tool X: Same Gender Programs
- Eliminate unwanted matings which could lead to pet overpopulation.
Tool XI: Spay/Neuter Programs
- Eliminate unwanted matings which could lead to pet overpopulation
- Enable owners to house animals of opposite sex together, which can reduce risk of pet-pet aggression.
Tool XII: Listing
Based on scientific assessment, create a list of species in the pet trade -
- Known or likely to become invasive (i.e., black list, red list, or prohibited list). These species are typically regulated or otherwise discouraged in the trade;
- Unlikely to become invasive or already so widespread in the environment that control is not feasible (i.e., white list, green list, or approved list). These species are generally traded without regulation, and may their sale/ownership may be encouraged as an alternative to species on black lists or grey lists; and/or
- For which there is not enough information to determine risk of invasiveness (i.e., grey list). These species require more in-depth scientific analysis in order to determine appropriate risk management strategies.