“Firsts.” Throughout our lives there are all kinds of “firsts”. First steps, first words, first car, first date, first loss. Some “firsts” are highly anticipated, others not so much. there are points in our lives that we look back at on our “firsts”, and as we look back, we may view these “firsts” much differently than when they happened.
On Monday, May 8th, 2017, there was another FIRST. I was invited to attend and represent the American Kennel Club at the first ever Petland Veterinary Conference. In the early afternoon, 30 Veterinarians from across the United States along with about 70 individual pet store owners, managers and/or kennel technicians gathered at the Chateau Thomas Winery Conference room in Plainfield, Indiana just outside Indianapolis, IN. Six hours later, a lot of information on all the positive trends, changes and happenings that have been occurring with the professional dog breeding community across the country had been shared.
What makes this event such a landmark and historical event? It is the first time that veterinarians who work Pet Stores from across the U.S. have been brought together to meet and have a round-table discussion with their peers. On hand were, Dr. Scott Gartner, DVM from Pinnacle Veterinary Clinic and Dr. Bill Oxford, DVM from Choice Puppies. They acted as moderators and both did an excellent job of opening the dialogue and getting a robust discussion and Q/A session going. Several discussions continued later into the night.
The veterinarians seemed positive and very encouraged from what they learned. It was most important to remember that most of these veterinarians were not the ‘breeder’s’ vets and had never visited a licensed dog breeding facility. These vets worked with the Pet Stores directly and dealt with the customer who purchased the puppies from the pet stores.
The following day Tuesday, May 9th, was another FIRST. Eight, 15 passenger vans and several other vehicles divided into groups and embarked on a day trip and caravanned to southern Indiana. While there, they visited a distributor of puppies and 3 dog breeding facilities. The majority of the store owners, managers and kennel technicians had been on many group and individual tours before. As a matter of fact, many of them visit their breeders and distributors on a regular basis! Some of these stores have taken their Veterinarians along with them on kennel visits for years. Having a Vet at a kennel is not a new thing, as most dog breeders have a long standing and good relationship with not just one vet, but several. It is also a US Dept. of Agriculture (USDA) requirement that all licensed facilities must have an annual veterinarian inspection. There are several states that require a minimum of two veterinarian inspections a year at each dog breeding facility.
The veterinarians and tour participants saw healthy, happy, quality cared fro puppies and adults in well maintained and enriched environments, Each of the kennel designs were different and unique, All of them were clean and most of all invited, fresh and enriched. The dogs would readily come up to and interact with individuals and the large group of strangers.
I would like to thank the dog breeders who made this possible. Not just the ones we visited on May 9th, but to all of you across the entire U.S. who continue to be transparent, those who update, re-model, build and re-build, change and innovate your facilities, operations, procedures and your day to day handling and care of the animals. A special thank you to those who play with, socialize, health test and have a good retirement plan for your dogs. To everyone in the dog breeding community who continues to evolve, THANK YOU!!
Stacy Mason, Breeder Rep for AKC