H H Backer Message to Shelters: Stay Home?

by Mary Haight on October 11, 2012

H H BackerI’ve been going to the H H Backer Christmas Show for over 12 years. It served well to meet owners of companies I have or wanted to interview, and to discover what’s new in their product line-up. It was also a great place to buy items for silent auctions at less that retail for shelter events. Then things got political – at least that’s my surmise.

The past two Backer Christmas shows were a departure from all the others attended. In 2010, I and a business owner I was interviewing were approached by someone waving a flyer asking excitedly if we were interested in selling pets at our stores, breathlessly describing how profitable it was. I responded, politely, (yes, it took a good deal of restraint) with something like “boy have you got the wrong people” and walked away. I didn’t give this much weight, but did note it as odd and discussed it with a friend on the way home.

In 2011, I went to the lounge reserved for long-time buyers, “Club Platinum”, to sit and gather my notes. I picked up a copy of Pet Age and froze, mouth open. The editorial page I had turned to sounded like a rebuke, an “I told you so” letter to the pet industry to “Stand Up for Pet Sales”.  As I wrote in last year’s post that puppy mills were being promoted by Pet Age , Karen Long MacLeod, the editor, cited the fact that 13 towns in 8 States had banned pet sales, that the pace of legislation was gaining speed, and named HSUS, ASPCA and PeTA as the organizations behind the plot.

MacLeod concluded that these changes to legislation threatened all pet retails stores, that the pet industry should get behind pet sales and join the Pet Industry Joint Advisory Council (PIJAC). PIJAC works for legislative and regulatory issues favorable to puppy mills everywhere.

This year a last minute letter from H H Backer went out – not two weeks before the event – to shelters and rescues saying that if they did not have an actual store they would have to pay $50 entry fee. The fee would be dismissed if a current invoice showing purchases could be produced. I’m sure many can produce pet food purchase receipts, though that may not be acceptable.

Shelters and rescues don’t often have the room to stockpile goods for events. One reason for attending the show is to get the discount on needed products. The idea of paying $50 for the privilege of buying from vendors is more than a little weird. but I realize a trade show is a trade show and they can make their own rules. If they don’t want shelters or rescues there, why not say so?

You might wonder why H H Backer would start drawing new lines in the sand. The publisher and president of Pet Age is Patty Backer. It seems a fair conclusion that the politics and profits of puppy mills have turned another head.

It’s the job of the PIJACs (and Petlands) in this industry to fan the flames of fear, create a herd mentality and have the industry circle their wagons. I would encourage any pet concern that might be leaning this way to be informed by one of your own – read the letter to Pet Age from Lucy Postins, owner of The Honest Kitchen.


Additional Resources:

Pet Age Letter from the Editor

PIJAC Member Drive

Puppy Mill Debate within the Industry


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