As I will discuss below, I am pleased and excited to announce the addition of PETCO Foundation, Inc. (PETCO) to the list of Corporate Sponsors of the American Federation of Aviculture, Inc. (AFA). Historically, many large pet chain stores handling birds have been generally viewed in low esteem regarding their care and treatment of the birds in their stores. While these views may have once had merit, are they appropriate today? I request that you carefully consider the following and I will use PETCO as my example. First, they have hired avian veterinarians in corporate positions and given these persons the express charge to raise the standards of the industry regarding the care of birds in their care. These individuals have developed a "PETCO Standards of Excellence" protocol which defines in very specific terms what they require from bird vendors that expect to do business with PETCO. They have patterned this program after the Model Aviculture Program or MAP.
They require that every associate in their stores that work with animals to complete a basic course in animal care and education. If they pass this course, they then qualify, to take additional coursework leading to a "Certified Animal Specialist" title. They are given this title only if they successfully complete the rigorous and demanding training course. They also provide advanced training in hand-feeding baby birds. Any of their stores that carry unweaned birds must have at least three qualified hand-feeders on-hand prior to the arrival of any unweaned birds at that store. It is their policy that no bird will be sold before it is fully weaned, is eating on its own, and has demonstrated the ability to maintain its body weight prior to going home with a new pet parent. (For more detail about this program see the companion article by Dr. Edling.)
PETCO has also recognized and has concerns about the potential number of unwanted pet birds in the United States. In response to this concern, they have developed an unprecedented program called "Think adoption first!" They actually encourage people to think about adopting a free bird from available adoption sources rather than purchase one of their birds. They then assist the customers in finding a suitable avian companion from a facility in their area. Each store has a program to facilitate adoption of a previously-owned bird rather than buying a PETCO bird.
PETCO is also working with cage manufacturers to set new standards for the pet bird industry and to improve bird foods used in their stores. Again, for more detailed information, see Dr. Edling's letter to the AFA below. I believe it is clear that large pet stores, like PETCO, are setting new standards-standards that are unprecedented in the protection they provide to the birds and other animals in their care.
In our discussion and visits with PETCO at their San Diego Headquarters, we have found them to be an enlightened company, one that shares many of the tenets embraced by the AFA. I am therefore, as noted earlier, pleased and excited to be able to announce that they have formally committed to sponsoring and working with the AFA in educational programs designed to benefit birds. As a first step, the PETCO Foundation , Inc. has provided financial support in publishing this issue of the Watch bird. We envision other exciting cooperative activities in the near future. I ask each of you to step forward and join me in welcoming PETCO as a Corporate Sponsor of the AFA.
Letter From Dr. Thomas Edling, PETCO Animal Supplies, Inc.
I would like to take this opportunity to express how excited we are here at PETCO Animal Supplies, Inc. to be working with the American Federation of Aviculture. I have been a member of AFA for close to 10 years, either in a corporate position or as a private veterinarian. I attended my first conference in Fort Myers several...