PIJAC Note: The following blog post was originally published on Pet Product News.
How the set of small-animal care standards, set by PIJAC and industry professionals, will impact animals and their caretakers.
By Courtney Hogan
More than 12 million U.S. homes have small animals, which includes birds, small mammals and reptiles, according to the American Pet Products Association’s 2017-2018 survey of pet owners.
All pet professionals who care for and about the welfare of these companion animals work hard so responsible pet owners have access to healthy companion animals. The Pet Industry Joint Advisory Council (PIJAC) has recently released comprehensive care, transport, and biosecurity standards for small animal breeders and distributors who will make this important goal more attainable.
The committee engaged in a rigorous, science-based and substantive process to ensure the health and well-being of small companion animals. The standards are based upon Animal Welfare Act regulations, veterinary input and the best practices of industry leaders. They address animal housing, biosecurity, sanitation, health, escape, transport and shipping protocols, as well as an employee duty of care sheet, and many other areas related to animal welfare. Record-keeping for facilities and animals are also included.
Of the animals included in the standards, two sub-groups—reptiles and birds—are not regulated under the Animal Welfare Act. The reptile section addresses issues such as species-specific temperatures in enclosures; monitoring protocols for temperature, water and air quality; and food and water source availability requirements during transport.
The bird section addresses appropriate measures to ensure proper biosecurity in each facility, the need for proper perch size related to the size of the bird, and Psittacosis testing standards that follow the National Association of State Public Health Veterinarians (NASPHV), Compendium of Measures to Control Chlamydia psittaci Infection Among Humans (Psittacosis) and Pet Birds (Avian Chlamydiosis), 2017.
Finally, the small mammal section of the standards is based on current USDA guidelines and has additional information from current industry best practices. This section addresses proper enclosure size and temperature guidelines; nutrition guidelines including proper food and supplements based on species’ needs; and proper storage and monitoring during transport.
These voluntary standards were established through a PIJAC committee, for which I served as PIJAC’s staff coordinator. The committee worked diligently for a year with industry experts who handle small animals every day. The recent release is anticipated to be the first of several developments in the standardization of care for small animals.
For more than 40 years, PIJAC has worked to enact the best legislation and regulations for pet lovers and their companion animals. The small-animal care standards will help pets and consumers. They will also show lawmakers just how much those who provide pets to the public care about the animals under their care.
Courtney Hogan is the Pet Industry Joint Advisory Council’s (PIJAC) government affairs specialist. She serves as the staff coordinator for PIJAC’s Small Animal Care Committee, which developed the Small Animal Care Standards.