Calls for pet shops to be exempt from any mandatory retail closures during the coronavirus crisis

Eleven pet trade and welfare bodies, including AHDA, AMTRA, NOAH and the Pet Food Manufacturers’ Association (PFMA), have come together to call on Government to consider pet welfare during Coronavirus crisis planning.

The bodies are particularly focusing on the need for specialist pet shops to be exempt from any mandatory retail closures. In a letter to Defra, they have urged Government not to overlook the needs of the nation’s pets.

In a letter to Lord Gardiner, Parliamentary Under Secretary of State for Rural Affairs & Biosecurity, the bodies highlight that many people will have to stay at home and limit their trips for a period ahead.

“In these difficult times, and more than ever, their pets will be a source of comfort and bring them many benefits both physically and psychologically,” the letter stated.

“We are aware that retail closures are a potential emergency measure under consideration and are concerned about the unintended consequences for animal health and welfare should pet businesses be subject to closure. We acknowledge the need for social distancing and self-isolation but are concerned about the additional challenges this will create for many vulnerable people in caring for their pets.”

To safeguard the health and welfare of the nation’s pets, the bodies called for continued provision of key supplies of feed, medicines, bedding and husbandry supplies is vital for fish, birds, reptiles and small mammals, as well as for cats and dogs.

“In the possible instance of business closures, we urge you to consider sufficient flexibility for suppliers of essential animal care products and to ensure that all businesses that provide products or services for the care of pets are able to remain operational throughout any emergency closures,” the letter added.

“Whilst food stores/supermarkets may be permitted to stay open, they only partially meet the dietary needs of some pets, however, not all pets and all needs. The vast majority of specialist pet food, supplements and even some medication required to keep pets healthy is sold to pet owners via specialist pet shops.”

Forcing specialist shops and veterinary practices to close, the bodies said, will shut down access to vital supplies and this could have major consequences for animal health and welfare.

“The pet care sector therefore calls on Government to ensure flexibility in the provision of vital services and to exempt pet care suppliers from any mandatory closures,” the letter concluded.

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