Uniform National Standards of Care for Small Companion Animals Introduced

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Established by the Pet Industry Joint Advisory Council (PIJAC) to address existing gaps in animal welfare regulations and align best practices for breeders and distributors

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Using current best practices, science, and data, we have created a single set of high-level standards to help ensure the welfare of these animals and to provide critical animal care guidance for breeders, distributors, and employees.

A leading animal advocacy organization has announced first-ever national standards for the care of small mammals, reptiles, amphibians, and birds. The Small Animal Standards of Care (SAC) are designed for breeders and distributors of small pets. Estimated to be in about 12 million U.S. homes, small pets include animals such as iguanas, guinea pigs, hamsters, snakes, and parakeets.

Established by the Pet Industry Joint Advisory Council (PIJAC) and leaders from across the pet community, the voluntary program addresses existing gaps in animal welfare regulations and aligns best practices for breeders and distributors of the nation’s small companion animals.

Pet industry leaders, animal care experts, veterinarians, and others worked for over a year to create the SAC standards. They evaluated Animal Welfare Act regulations, existing animal care policies, and companion animal care best practices. The result of this comprehensive approach is a rigorous, science-based, substantive program to assure the health and well-being of small companion animals.

“The pet community has a shared commitment to assuring responsibility and appropriate animal care at all times. As such, we identified the need for national, uniform guidelines for the care of small companion animals being raised by breeders and distributors,” said PIJAC Chair of the Board of Directors Laura “Peach” Reid, who chaired the committee that developed and released the standards.

PIJAC President and CEO Mike Bober said, “Using current best practices, science, and data, we have created a single set of high-level standards to help ensure the welfare of these animals and to provide critical animal care guidance for breeders, distributors, and employees.”

The standards are divided into sections on facilities, care practices, and transport to address all stages of animal care by breeders and distributors. Guidelines for record-keeping and staffing procedures are also included.
The standards codify best practices for the care of reptiles and birds, which are not regulated under the federal Animal Welfare Act. By creating industry expectations for care, the standards will ensure proper nutrition, veterinary care, and other best practices are provided for these animals.

Specific elements of the standards address, but are not limited to, the following practices:

  •     Housing of small animals;
  •     Veterinary care;
  •     Water and air quality;
  •     Lighting and temperature control;
  •     Feed and nutrition;
  •     Cleanliness and sanitation;
  •     Biosecurity; and
  •     Transport and humane handling

SAC standards are the first of what is anticipated to be additional developments in small animal care. Program leaders anticipate that over time, the now-voluntary standards may be expanded as part of a continuous improvement process and that verification of compliance with the standards may be affirmed through third-party, independent audits.

An executive summary, as well as the full set of comprehensive SAC standards, is available online at PIJAC.org.
Additional photos available upon request.

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Jamie Baxter

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