This has never been more evident than in a series of comments in my store over the last few months—from thank you for being here to glad you’re still in business. The thank you coming from a client we see weekly to the client we’ve only seen twice in nine years. Every time you purchase you make a statement as to the importance of your vendor.
While we’ve seen the consequences in other industries – the loss of small business, limited availability of products and job losses throughout the US, many of us do not equate these issues with “getting a good deal.” With the growth in the pet industry over the last 15 years, we—pet owners—have been subject to a range of cause and effects of buying for price and all too often ignorant of the cost of that good deal.
From a health perspective, how did we get to the point we can and should feed our pets for pennies? Quality foods are an investment—an investment in your companion animal and an investment in the longevity of companies who take on the responsibility of nourishing your companion. Cheap, abundant ingredients are available but at a cost to your companion, knowledgeable and ethical businesses, and reliable resources.
The pet food recall of 2007 was a major turning point in the pet food industry. Pet owners, incensed with betrayal, blamed manufacturers and exporters while searching for something better. New natural food brands exploded on the market and natural pet stores began popping up like dandelions. But “better” comes at a price and pet owners hailed discount sources greedily. Why not? You can have that preferred recommended brand your dependable local natural store spent time educating you on, at a bargain. Multiply that a 100 times or a 1000. Is that local, resourceful store going to be able to help you down the road?
Understand too that as the prices of these “better” foods escalate reflecting the same costs the rest of the world are enduring, foods costs will continue to go up. If not or you find a healthful food at a bargain price, ask yourself at what cost? If that brand is cheaper, what did the manufacturer take advantage of to make it less expensive? Cheaper ingredients, cheap labor, or something we are starting to see more of: the manipulation of power and greed. The behind the scenes business side of the pet industry are beginning to resemble the hoarders the humane organizations fight against. The difference, instead of animals, it’s about hoarding the market.
Make no mistake, I am all for capitalism and the freedom of choice of where I spend my dollar. But, ask yourself when you go to click that “Buy” button, do you know the true costs to you and your companion?
The thing is, the best pet food cannot be found in a bag or can. Yet, the pet industry has convinced you and your veterinarian that proper nutrition can only be found from commercial sources. But when you buy that heavily promoted super premium food, do you know where the meat protein of that food was sourced? Is the cannery ethical? Has the kibble manufacturer followed all food safety protocols?
These are questions your community pet store should be on top of and it takes your support to make sure they can be there for you. Think about that the next time you need help with your companion and how you are voting with your dollars.