Communities Come Together for Dog Park Program

Bark for Your Park is a nationwide contest PetSafe has hosted for the past three years. Now in its fourth year, the company is reaching out proactively to retailers asking them to be a part of the contest.

“The communities that win dog parks get very excited about their pets and their community,” Robin Hawn Rhea, senior brand manager for PetSafe, said. “As a buzz of pet enthusiasm begins within the community, there tends to be a spike in adoptions and pet owners seeking products, training and solutions for the home and the dog park. A retailer that is a partner with the community during the contest is truly supporting their community on their journey to become even more responsible and giving with their pets.”

Nearly 10 years ago, PetSafe had available property adjacent to its headquarters that they developed into a 1.5-acre dog park and made it available to the public.

“We were amazed at the huge amount of traffic and excitement that the park generated,” Rhea said. “So we continued to donate to the East Tennessee-area dog lovers. We saw more people adopting dogs because a dog park was available and that dog parks helped reduce the number two reason dogs are surrender to shelters, behavior. When dogs get the exercise and socialization they need in dog parks, they exhibited far fewer of the behavior issues that result in owner surrenders. We knew we were on to something and wanted to expand the effort to other communities.

“The challenge was, ‘How would we ever choose who to give a dog park to?’ We want parks to go to cities that we knew would love them and use them. So we developed the Bark for Your Park contest and structured the contest to ensure that the most deserving and most pet-loving communities can have their very own dog park.”

The 2012 Grand Prize Winner was the town of Texarkana, Ark. One of the community coordinators is Chrystal Sloan, who found out about the contest from a friend.

“In 2011, I found the contest while searching for grants to help our local animal shelter, but the idea of a community dog park had been pitched to me before then,” Sloan said. “When I started talking about entering the contest, a friend told me that their friend, DeAnna O’Malley, had been wanting a dog park in Texarkana, too. It turned out that DeAnna happened to be my neighbor. Our city manager, Harold Boldt, gave us his blessing and picked out a location for the future dog park.”

The first year they tried was the first year of the contest and their effort didn’t get off the ground. Sloan and O’Malley decided they wanted to try again for the following year, so Sloan sent personal emails to everyone she knew.

“When State Rep. Prissy Hickerson, who is an advocate for the animals, responded with enthusiasm, I knew we had a real chance,” Sloan said.
“She really helped by rallying other elected officials, doing her homework, and speaking to the media. Then it snowballed into something really wonderful. People began to take it upon themselves to rally their friends and family to vote for the dog park,” she said. “Every media outlet available to us kept the story in the news. I started a Facebook page and people found their niche to help. Some people used comedy, some used their influence, some used their math skills, some used their graphic skills, but everyone used their networking skills.

“Local businesses were amazing to us. We had donations for flyers, magazine ads, newspaper ads, T-shirts, banners and prizes for the celebration party. Several businesses put ‘Bark for Your Park’ on their marquee signs, allowed us to put up flyers, and hosted voting events. Because the 7 Vote Sniff Out was such an important day and some people had a hard time figuring out what to do, we would set up voting stations at several places throughout the day. Some of the best memories were made at a local bar. The people there were in a good mood, ready to socialize, happy to talk about the dog park and, most importantly, vote! It didn’t hurt that we kept a pitcher of beer and a stack of cups at our table. We were in it to win it and we had fun doing it.”

Sloan suggests communities who want to win, should build a team.

“It takes all kinds to make the world go ‘round and it takes all kinds to win the PetSafe Bark for Your Park contest,” Sloan said. “Let people do what they do best and ask them to run with it. Think outside of the box. Create your own contests or incentives to get people interested.

“Take advantage of any situation where there are large groups of people. Rent booths at festivals, of course ask if you can have the space for free since you are helping your community, go to adoption events, dog shows, bowling alleys, sporting events or a mall and set up information/voting stations. Since people have to vote on their computer, you must have a solid presence on social media sites. They are sitting at their computer, so they might as well vote and help their community while they are surfing the Internet.”

The 2013 grand prize winner was the town of Texarkana, Texas.

Robby Robertson, the parks and recreation director of Texarkana, said they had wanted to have a dog park as a part of their park system for a number of years.

“The Parks Department donated/ designated a piece of land at one of our local parks: Spring Lake Park. We also went to our City Council in support of this project and to encourage their support as well,” Robertson said.

A group of local citizens approached Roberton’s department regarding the contest.

“Apparently the city of Texarkana, Texas, was already nominated and they asked for our support and assistance with getting our local leaders involved,” Robertson said. “People are very excited and are looking forward to the opening. The construction of the Dog Park has recently begun, and we have had a number of people showing up at the location asking when the park will be open and of course the phone calls about the Dog Park have really increased in the past few weeks.”

For more information on this year’s Bark for Your Park, visit the PetSafe website at


Kathy Ireland, Worldwise, Team Up

Kathy Ireland, CEO and chief designer for kathy ireland Worldwise, also known as kiWW, has unleashed a line of solutions-based home décor pet products for four-legged fashionistas.

Partnering with Worldwise, the team responsible for the line of products from SmartyKat, PoochPlanet and Petlinks, Ireland developed a line of solutions-based home decor pet products. According to Forbes Magazine, kiWW is recognized as one of the country’s most successful design and marketing firms, with revenues topping $2 billion in licensed products annually.

Pet Age spoke with Aimee Diskin, director of innovation and product development at Worldwise, about the kathy ireland Loved Ones collection.

Pet Age: What type of design features make these products stand out in the pet industry?

Diskin: The approach to the line was to offer families intuitive, solution-oriented products that look good in the home environment.

Our goal was to solve both a pet, and pet parent’s, needs through innovation and a very thoughtful analysis of how we interact with our pets in daily life. Our team frequently took an everyday task and asked, “What would make it even more enjoyable, easier, faster?”  Oftentimes, we discovered solutions by just being with our pets. For example, while feeding our pets, we noticed how dirty the wall behind the feeding bowl was. Also, noticing how our dogs and cats slept led to the question of if we had the right bed to match that sleep style. We even examined the in-store experience to make our items more accessible and user-friendly on the shelf.

Kathy’s aesthetic melded seamlessly with the products. This resulted in uniquely beautiful, home décor-friendly cat and dog products with high-quality fabrics and materials to harmoniously fit into any home.

Pet Age: What types of products can we expect to see in the collection?

Diskin: The kathy ireland  Loved Ones collection offers a comprehensive product line for both cats and dogs that encompass: bedding, toys, leads, collars, travel, feeding, watering, scratchers and furniture. The Loved Ones collection offers beautiful, high quality, solution-focused products for the entire home.

Pet Age: What was it like to work with Kathy Ireland and her team?

Diskin: Kathy and her team are great partners and very much a family dedicated to the wellness of pets and connecting with these Loved Ones. kiWW’s mission is “… finding solutions for families … especially busy moms.” Kathy and I are both aware of what it means to be a busy parent of both the two-footed and four-footed children in our families.

Just because we don’t have a lot of time to spare doesn’t mean we don’t want to offer our families the best care possible. If we can save time, solve a problem and have style while doing it, even better.  Throughout the development of the collection we frequently validated the items to make sure there was a solution or benefit offered. If it didn’t have one, it wasn’t going to make the cut.

Pet Age: How did Kathy’s dogs inspire the collection?

Diskin: Kathy has had many animals in her family over the years. Some [were] adopted or rescued, and all [were] part of the family and considered loved ones.  Kathy has said, “We have never thought of ourselves as pet owners, rather, we are the trusted guardians for these very special Loved Ones. kiWW and Worldwise are committed to making the world a better place for all pets and the families who love them.”

There is a portion of the line, Gracie & Delilah, that is inspired by two of Kathy’s dogs that were adopted from her late mentor, Elizabeth Taylor. Gracie & Delilah are world-class Loved Ones that are accustomed to the finest things in life and the Hollywood chic lifestyle. You’ll find some indulgent products in the collection that allow all our Loved Ones to live the indulgent life of Gracie & Delilah.

Pet Age: Can you tell us about the pet advocacy program that will work to raise awareness of the benefits of pet adoption?

Diskin: When you pair a dynamic brand like kiWW along with Kathy’s values and philanthropic support, she stands out in the marketplace. Worldwise shares similar values, so it has been great to work together with kiWW. Kathy and Worldwise are both very devoted and involved in a variety of pet-wellness focused organizations. Our objective is to build awareness through as many organizations as possible.

As examples, we support creating awareness of the benefits of both adoption and rescue organizations that understand the power of emotional bonds, rewards and joys that coincide with pet ownership. Some of the organizations we support are Tony La Russa’s Animal Rescue Foundation, A Wish for Animals and APPA’s Pets Add Life.

– Stacy Mantle

The kathy ireland Loved Ones collection will feature solution-based pet products.

Pets Become More Popular

Nothing is too good for our pets, and this theme holds true throughout 2014 as the humanization trend continues on a global level. From high-end pet food and niche market designer clothes, nothing is out of reach for consumers on the hunt for pet products.

Small businesses will benefit most from this continuing movement toward humanization, particularly in the ability to carry premium pet foods and offer unique pet services that meet the very specific needs of clients. Baby boomers and childless couples lead the pack in pet ownership this year, and with that comes a highly educated and demanding group who love their pets.  It’s going to be important for pet stores to employ educated, informed staff who can effectively relate to their clientele.

On a Global Level

The pet industry is driven by humanization and it’s a trend that is only growing in popularity. Pet ownership has increased in North America, with over 68 percent of households owning at least one dog, according to 2012 U.S. pet ownership estimates from the American Pet Products Association. According to a Packaged Facts survey, 83 percent of pet owners consider their pet to be a member of the family.
Pets are considered family, and nothing proves this more than the humanization trend that has only increased in popularity. You need only look at the marketplace to gain proof, with medical procedures like hip replacements, orthopedic dog beds, human-grade food and Burberry dog coats.

Growth is expected to continue across all pet categories at a rate of about 5 percent, with industry sales increasing to $64.92 billion in 2014, and a projected $75.09 billion by 2017, according to

The trend continues on an international level.

India has experienced tremendous growth in commercial pet foods as people begin to explore the benefits of commercialized food.  In Russia, more than 40 percent of families own at least one pet, of which 73 percent own at least one cat and 32 percent own at least one dog, according to a 2013 report from Global Agricultural Network, published by the USDA Foreign Agricultural Service. According to Euromonitor International, the pet food market in Russia is experiencing annual growth of 8.7 percent, only second to India, and is predicted to reach $2.2 billion by 2015.

Brazil and Mexico are the two superstars of the international pet supply market; others include Japan, Vietnam and Latin America.

Pet popularity in general has also increased over the past few years. According to an International Markets Bureau report, the dog population in Brazil grew to more than 35 million, representing a 14 percent increase in the past 5 years. The cat population experienced a record 37.5 percent increase there during the same time period, according to the same report.

The United States remains No. 1 in cat and dog ownership, but Brazil has moved into the No. 2 spot for dogs, and Russia is No. 2 for cats, according to a Euromonitor International Report.

– Stacy Mantle

Bark In the Park Is A Homerun for Central Pet

Central Pet is an example of a company in the pet industry that is committed to making a difference in the world through its marketing efforts. This year, the company will focus on expanding its popular, “Bark in the Park” program by partnering with some of the most popular baseball teams and exciting animal rescues in the business.

Bark in the Park events allows dogs to join in the fun with their owners by experiencing the all-American fun of a baseball game. Fans can purchase a ticket for their dogs, join in on the pre-game pup rally, march in a parade and spend the day relaxing at the ballpark. Nearly 600 dogs and their families typically participate in these popular events, officials said.

By integrating nontraditional marketing activities with companion brands for dogs and cats, Central Pet can use the sports and entertainment forums to get its products in front of families who have, or are thinking about adopting, a pet.

Through these marketing efforts, Central Pet is able to  encourage higher adoption rates, increase product sales and to get the word out about new products.

“Central has a long history with Major League Baseball as the official pet products partner and sponsor of Bark in the Park events with various teams since 2005,” Jim Heim, president, business development at Central Garden & Pet, said. “This season, we are looking to create a winning combination for our brands and business partners by bringing these unique and wonderful events to teams across the country.

Baseball is still America’s pastime and the most family-friendly professional sport. By partnering with teams, we are able to sample products, build awareness and affinity for our brands, and promote responsible pet ownership, adoption and animal welfare to pet-loving families who also love baseball.”

This season, Central Pet plans to expand across eight franchises by adding 8-10 teams to its Bark in the Park schedule.  Central Pet plans to showcase products from the AvoDerm and Nylabone channels, and will be partnering with nonprofit animal rescue groups like Tony La Russa’s Animal Rescue Foundation (ARF).

La Russa, a retired Major League Baseball manager and coach, founded ARF in 1991 to address the needs of companion animals by not only aiding abandoned and homeless animals, but promoting the idea that people’s lives can be enhanced by strengthening the bonds between humans and animals.

“We are thrilled to partner with Central Garden & Pet this season to help bring Bark in the Park events to thousands of families and our message to millions of Americans,” La Russa, who also serves as ARF’s chariman, said. “Central is a long-time supporter of ARF’s mission to save dogs and cats who have run out of time at public shelters, and bring people and animals together to enrich each other’s lives. Our ties to baseball obviously run deep and this partnership combines two of my favorite passions … baseball and pets.”

– Stacy Mantle

Passion for Pets Puts Publisher at Top of the Game

Connie Wilson, founder, publisher and editor-in-chief of Modern Dog and Modern Cat magazines, was selected as the 2014 recipient of Global Pet Expo’s annual, “Excellence in Journalism and Outstanding Contributions to the Pet Industry” award.

This award recognizes individuals in the media who have the power to influence millions of people and use it to positively promote the joys and benefits of pet ownership. Past recipients include Rachael Ray, Ellen DeGeneres, Sandy Robins and Victoria Stillwell.

Launched in 2002, Modern Dog magazine began as a regional publication in Canada. The magazine quickly found a readership across North America. In 2012, Wilson launched Modern Cat, a quarterly publication that was named one of the 15 hottest magazine launches of 2012 by Samir Husni, founder and director of the Magazine Innovation Center at University of Mississippi’s Meek School of Journalism.

“Connie’s true passion for pets and their well-being comes through in all that she’s accomplished,” Bob Vetere, president and CEO of the American Pet Products Association, said. “Her magazines and websites are just another way for her to share in the love we have for our pets to an active and enthusiastic group of people, which is the true essence of this award. We congratulate her on her contribution to the industry and the pet-loving population.”

Pet Age recently spoke with Wilson about the award and her publications.

Pet Age: What makes Modern Dog and Modern Cat different from other publications?

Wilson: The content, definitely. We strive to make it smart and fun, and good looking and inspirational. Our aim is to provide the perfect mix of advice, entertainment, DIY’s, photos to make you smile, ways to improve your relationship with your dog, new things to discover. We frequently get the comment, “It’s the only magazine I read cover-to-cover,” which of course always thrills us.

Pet Age: You have mentioned that you didn’t have a lot of experience in publishing when you first started Modern Dog magazine. What inspired you to take on such a massive project?

Wilson: I can thank my dog, Kaya. When I moved back to the city, I was nervous about leaving my friends and family and starting a new urban life. And [I] worried that my dog Kaya wouldn’t be able to adapt. Ironically, it was Kaya who helped me, introducing me to a whole new circle of friends, those who loved their dogs like I did mine and treated them as their canine kids.
I was looking to start a new career and Kaya gave me the inspiration to create a resource that would help the dog community live their best canine-inclusive lives. Thus, Modern Dog magazine was born, with Modern Cat following!

Pet Age: You have a sincere passion for dogs and cats, which is evidenced through the high quality of your work. Can you tell us about your pets? How do they motivate you? 

Wilson: Kaya, who passed away, was not, for all her lovableness, an easy dog to live with. High-trung, headstrong, neurotic, not to mention flatulent, throughout her life she gave me examples of just about every problem a dog owner could face, providing inspiration for articles and an empathy for others who experienced similar difficulties. We worked through our problems and built a bond so strong it nearly tore me apart when she passed on.

There’s not a day that goes by where I don’t think of her. Penny, a rescued Wirehaired Dachshund, now rules my life. She’s a real cutie and my first small dog, so she’s providing a totally different perspective for me. Having a dog in my life helps keep my centered, gets me out for walks where I can commune with nature, re-energize and also connect with my community. Our dogs are such a blessing.

Pet Age: Which quality would you say most inspires the cross-border (and cross-species) success of your publications?

Wilson: I think there’s a real hunger for quality information delivered by someone who “gets it.” “It” being the myriad of ways our dogs and cats bring joy to our lives, and I like to think to bring that all wrapped up in an enjoyable package.

Pet Age: Where do you gain your inspiration?

Wilson: From our readers and their pets, and from our awesome team here and their pets. The Modern Dog and Modern Cat team are a totally amazing and creative bunch. It’s fun working together to come up with ideas that we think will inspire.

Pet Age: What’s the most rewarding part of your work?

Wilson: The creation of the Modern Dog and Modern Cat communities. Our readers are the best.

Pet Age: As an entrepreneur, what is the most important lesson you’ve learned in working with the pet industry?

Wilson: You need to be quick on your feet, adapting to a constantly changing environment, both in terms of competition and technology.

Pet Age: What does it feel like to be the recipient of such a prestigious award? 

Wilson: I feel truly honored. I’ve worked really hard to get where I am, so receiving this type of recognition from my peers is a milestone in my life.

Pet Age: Where do you see the industry heading in 2014? 

Wilson: It’s going to keep growing, as it has been for years now. The busier our lives get and the more entwined we become with technology, pets are going to be our salvation, balancing our lives and keeping us sane.

Pet Age: Any advice for aspiring pet industry influencers?

Wilson: First, be sure to do a market test so you’ll know if your target market thinks the product is as great as you do. Secondly, you’ll need to have the passion to see it through, as more likely than not you’ll be putting in long, hard hours; as well you’ll need enough money to finance it. It’s sad to see a great idea fizzle because there isn’t enough money to bring it to market, a process that often takes longer than you think it will.

Wilson will accept the award March 13 in Orlando, Fla., at the Purina Media Reception during the Global Pet Expo, presented by the American Pet Products Association and Pet Industry Distributors Association.

– Stacy Mantle

Are You Ready For Some Puppy Bowl!?

Note: Pet Age is accepting submissions till Noon on January 31st.

Here at Pet Age, we are extremely excited for Animal Planet’s 2014 Puppy Bowl. We are so excited in fact, we decided to do our own fantasy league. Want to play? It’s easy!

First, check out the starting lineups on Animal Planet’s site.

Second, pick your starting lineup.

Third, take a screen shot of your team and send it to our assistant editor with a sentence of who you are and your company or store if you’re with one and we will put it up on our website.

Lastly, watch and enjoy the puppy bowl while watching your team score points (here is the score sheet) and earn bragging rights against the rest of the Pet Age 2014 Puppy Bowl Fantasy League.

Once your team is up, we encourage friendly competition in the comments below.

And then, use the hashtag #petagefantasy along with #puppybowl to tweet with us and other competitors prior to, and during the Puppy Bowl.

First up, Michelle Maskaly: Editor-in-Chief of Pet Age magazine.


Second, Jason Kamery: Assistant Editor of Pet Age magazine

Third, Brianne Molnar: Account Executive for Pet Age magazine

Fourth, Meredith Schneider: Manager and senior account executive at Fetching Communications


Fifth, Alyx Ricke and Bella: Avid Readers of Pet Age magazine

Sixth, Maggie Marton: Dog writer for Pet Age magazine

Seventh, Christie Zizo: Runs – a pet trends, lifestyle and beagle blog.

Eighth, Felissa Elfenbein: Blogger for

Ninth, Laura F.: Reader

Tenth, Nancy Hassel: Founder and President of Long Island Pet Professionals, LLC.

Eleventh,Beckie Tomala: VP at Matrix Parnters

Twelfth, Kerry Sutherland: Principal of K. Sutherland PR

Thirteenth, Sarah Hinckley: Assistant Account Manager for K. Sutherland PR

Fourteenth, Caroline Golon: Founder of High Paw Media and creator of 

Fifteenth, Rachel Phelps: Publisher of

Sixteenth,Lauren Darr: Founder of the International Association of Pet Fashion Professionals

Seventeenth, Erin Terjesen: PR/Marketing Partner & Pet Lover, Propel Communications

Eighteenth,Sharon Waters: Reader of Pet Age magazine

Nineteenth, Rachel Hoffnagle: Avid Reader of Pet Age magazine

Twentieth, Missy Chehi:Fan of Pet Age

Twenty-first, Stacy Mantle: Writer for Pet Age and founder of 

Twenty-Second, Karen Alley: Writer for Pet Age magazine

Twenty-third, Pepper: Pepper’s Paws

Twenty-fourth, Impetus: * Note from Impetus*

After careful analysis of all the entire draft class, we have assembled an elite team of puppies based upon their ability to fill stat sheets and fit within our west-coast system. Come game day, their performance will be so epic that history will remember those watching not as spectators of a sporting event, but instead as witnesses of divine perfection.

Twenty-fifth, Kristy Boulos, Vice president, account supervisor of Matrix Partners

Twenty-sixth: Malia

Twenty-Seventh, Danielle: Researcher at NJBIZ

Twenty-Eighth, Francesca: Service and Marketing Manager at Pet Store Websites

Twenty-nineth, Kyle: Marketing Specialist at Pet Store Websites


Thirtieth, Kyra: Marketing Specialist at Pet Store Websites

Thirty-First, Leeann: Marketing specialist at Pet Store Websites

Thirty-Second, Lori: Marketing Specialist at Pet Store Websites

Thirty-Third, Janet: Service and Production Manager at Pet Store Websites

Thirty-Fourth, Tiffany: Marketing Specialist at Pet Store Websites

Thirty-Fifth, Jacquie: Marketing Specialist at Pet Store Websites

Thirty-Sixth, Brandy: Editor for The Dogington Post

Thirty-Seventh, Beth: Co-Owner of Harper & Hound-Coordinating jewelry for doggies and their divas!

Thirty-Eighth, Nicole: Designer NJBIZ

Thirty-Ninth, Ashlee: PR Manager for Matrix

Fortieth, Kim: PRCoordinator at Matrix Partners

Forty-First, Kelly: Co-Founder of Harper & Hound

Forty-Second, Kerian: Support Coordinator Manager for Pet360

Forty-Third, Tamara: Barker for

Forty-Forth, Anne:Audience Development Manager for NJBIZ

Reptile Must-Haves

Last issue, we discussed the history of the reptile trade, particularly in terms of its vital importance in any modern pet store. With the advent of captive breeding as a regular practice, pet stores can better stock and supply these in-demand animals.

However, the question remains, as a would-be reptile seller, where do you start?

There are several key elements to assess when looking at stocking reptiles for sale. The biggest of these are likely price point and care requirements. Many stores often overlook the second of these, in favor of focus on pure cost, which can prove to be a major mistake.

In the past, many pet stores chose to stock iguanas, citing their relatively low price point and their popularity, as iguanas were one of the first reptiles to be farm-bred.  However, iguanas are notably difficult animals to properly care for, particularly for a first-time reptile owner.

Not only does this mean that iguanas require more significant in-house care, but also that would-be customers may shy away from such an animal or even return it after purchase, resulting in overall loss.  By contrast, the bearded dragon makes for a much better “introductory” reptile.

They have much lower care requirements than iguanas, while maintaining a similarly low price point.

Proper Needs

Care requirements are of particular note, because of their two-fold nature. Many of your customers will likely be first-time reptile owners, only starting to learn how to properly care for their chosen reptile.  One way to assess your store’s reptile needs is to think in terms of stepping stones. Start off with easier-to-care-for, elementary animals to establish a sales base in your community before moving on to more advanced reptiles.

For lizards, consider providing a combination of green anoles, bearded dragons and leopard geckos to start. The bearded dragon is particularly easy to care for and sells well in today’s market.

Leopard geckos, similarly, are relatively easy to care for and can even be housed two to a 10-gallon cage, making care easier on the store level.

Veiled chameleons provide a quality advanced option, though they require more advanced temperature and humidity regulation than either the leopard gecko or bearded dragon.

In terms of frogs, consider starting with a White’s Tree Frog. They are hardier than many other frog varieties, making them an ideal starting animal for a would-be reptile owner. Further, the White’s Tree Frog can be fed with small crickets, making their overall care relatively easy, especially when coupled with reptiles that feed on similar insects.

The Pacman Frog, also known as the Horned Frog, provides an easy entry for a beginner frog owner, though be sure to note that the Pacman Frog can grow to upwards of 7 inches in length, which may be a detraction for some buyers.

While popular and visually appealing, the various species of poison dart frogs should definitely be considered as advanced pets due to their small size, their humidity requirements and their delicate skin.

Snakes, too, require careful consideration when deciding upon beginner stock.  One popular starting point for many stars is the colubrid family, which includes King Snakes, Corn Snakes and Milk Snakes.  Colubrids have relatively simple requirements for feeding and cleaning and come in a variety of colorful morphs and patterns.

Ball pythons also have relatively light care requirements.

In terms of tortoises and turtles, consider entering with Russian Tortoises or Red-Footed Tortoises. In both cases, care requirements are relatively light.

A great reptile sale is a matter of matching up the right customer to the right animal.

A good fit results in a customer that returns, creating repeat business for your store and continued patronage.

Zuke’s Helps Beat Pet Cancer With Donation

Zuke’s donated more than $175,000 to the Dog and Cat Cancer Fund, a non-profit organization dedicated to understanding, treating and preventing canine and feline cancer.

The DCCFund was created by Zuke’s founder, Patrick Meiering, and his brother Chris Meiering, director of marketing, in 2007, after their childhood dog and, more recently, Zuke, the namesake of Zuke’s dog and cat treats, died of canine cancer.

“Zuke’s donates a portion of all product sales to the Dog and Cat Cancer fund,” Chris Meiering said. “We invest in this organization because we passionately believe that the ability to pay one’s vet bills shouldn’t be a factor in giving pets a fighting chance against this terrible disease.”

With Zuke’s support, the DCCFund has been able to increase the annual grant amount per pet from $700 in 2007, to $1,200 in 2011 and most recently to $1,500 in 2013.

The DCCFund estimates they will be able to help a record 100 pets this year alone, up from 42 in 2011 and 69 in 2012.

Since its inception, the DCCFund has helped a total of 250 dogs and cats nationwide.


In-Store Displays Are Critical to Sales

Merchandising drives sales. If you advertise, discount and promote an item will the consumer buy it? The answer is, yes. But, only if you address two important factors:  What is the benefit to your customer and is there perceived value?

The most important requirement of any display is that it projects the retailer’s confidence in the products and a successful outcome for the consumer. A display won’t sell confidence with one or two pieces on the shelf.

The old adage of, “volume is validity” is very true when creating any display. Keep in mind that “volume” can be as little as a dozen items.  End-cap displays or pallet displays are also great to bring in extra sales, but even a small shelf display, if done properly will significantly increase consumer purchases.

When developing your display strategy, consider these three consumer buying questions:

What is the product appeal? (Brand, style, function?)

The average consumer buys because they want to fulfill a need or requirement and they’ve come to your store looking for a solution, so use key items that will fulfill their needs. As an example, if you’re an aquarium store, you might simply design a small in-line shelf display for solving water quality problems. The display will appeal to the majority of your customers since water quality is such an important aspect of aquarium keeping.

Why should I buy?  (How will these products make my hobby easier and more enjoyable?)

This is where signage becomes important.

Address the assets of the products in simple concise wording. As an example, if you have designed a water quality display, make a chart that shows various usages like desired pH, ammonia or phosphate levels that are achievable, etc.

Also design a header-sign to define that it is a water quality center which explains the overall reason for the display. Whether it is a water quality display or a flea and tick display, be sure to supply a header-sign to draw the consumer’s attention, then a secondary sign such as chart of usage or bullet point’s listing features and benefits.

What’s it worth? (Subconscious value vs. price judgment?)

It is important to know the retail value of a product. Think about all aspects of the product before setting the retail price. Can the product be explained to the consumer as a necessary item? Will it solve a problem? Is the product competitively priced? Which category does it fit into or is it unique? It is these combined aspects of the product that will determine the margin and suggested price.

The retailer’s cost isn’t the important issue here as good margins can be made on many items that serve the need and are priced based on convenience to the consumer. Price is important, but it isn’t necessary to show it on the signage. Information is what sells the product; the hobbyist will seek out the price if their interest has been engaged.

Most products already have your pricing on the packaging and this also allows for different product pricing within the display. On the other hand, large displays such as a stack of complete aquarium kits will do better by grabbing the attention of the consumer using price signage.

It is very important to change your displays monthly to draw customers back into your store. By working with your distributor on added value or discount programs it is easy to fund your display efforts.

Most distributors are happy to participate in a well thought out promotional program.

Remember, if you solve your customer’s problems or needs, they will recommend your store when talking to friends and fellow hobbyists.

– RD Webster

Merrick Pet Care Partners With PAWS Chicago

Merrick Pet Care has joined with PAWS Chicago to be the exclusive partner to provide Chicago’s homeless pets with food.

Starting Dec. 1, Merrick Pet Care will provide PAWS Chicago with quality pet food for all of PAWS’ homeless pets.

“PAWS Chicago is committed to ensuring the health and happiness of every pet in our adoption program,” Paula Fasseas, PAWS Chicago founder, said. “We are proud to provide the pets in our care with Merrick pet food during their stay and provide a foundation of health and nutrition that we hope will continue for the rest of their lives.”

Merrick will also help each new family kick-off a healthy at home eating program by arming each adopter with a supply of dry food for the transition to their new home.

“PAWS Chicago has a proven record of helping pets in need and we are pleased to partner with them to feed homeless pets awaiting their forever homes,” Greg Shearson, CEO of Merrick Pet Care, Inc., said. “Together, we can better help pets not only survive, but thrive through feeding them more wholesome, natural and nutritious foods.”

New Line of Luxury Pet Products

Renowned pet furniture designer, Corey Drew, introduced, Architect Pets, a new line of luxury pet items.

The Architect Pets line currently features luxury dog beds, pet feeders, cat scratchers and will later expand to include exclusive pet toys, carriers and other must-have accessories for the pet and home.

“Our goal is to revolutionize the pet industry with the staple pieces of our brand, which are designed to withstand the test of time through both their visual appeal and craftsmanship,” Drew, CEO and chief design officer of Architect Pets, said.

Drew was approached by his now invested manufacturing partner to develop a new brand of pet furniture and accessories. This ultimately led to the formation of The Urban Design Group. Over the next few months, Drew worked to gather a network of talented individuals within the creative and diverse city of Savannah to assist him in building The Urban Design Group’s first exclusive brand, Architect Pets.

Sealy Introduces Its New Dog Bed

Sealy, Inc., one of the world’s largest bedding brands, in collaboration with dogPACER, has launched its new Sealy Dog Bed.

The Sealy Dog Bed, the brand’s first dog bed offering, uses a signature Quad Layer Technology, allowing dogs to enjoy a cooler, more supportive and restful sleep.

The Sealy Dog Bed provides a large variety of amenities to ensure dogs are receiving the best rest possible. The Quad Layer technology features: Cooling Energy Gel, a layer which absorbs stress on joints, and cools dogs for comfort; PetRest Memory Foam, inspired by NASA’s original invention, and proven to help increase circulation by conforming to a pet’s body shape; Green Tea Orthopedic Foam, to maintian natural weight distribution; HD Charcoal Base, which provides essential support and absorbs odors.

“At Sealy, we’re dedicated to helping the world sleep better, including our beloved pets,” Margo Borgione, director of international business development and licensing for Sealy, said. “We wanted to take dog beds a step further, align ourselves with a well-known and trusted brand in the pet industry like dog PACER, and collaborate on a product design that provides dogs with more comfortable and supportive rest.”

New CEO at Animal Supply Company

George Ristevski is the new CEO of Animal Supply Company. Ristevski brings more than 30 years of businesses leadership to the company from various industries.

“We welcome George’s experience and leadership to the Animal Supply family,” Randy Reber, chairman of Animal Supply Company, said. “George’s unique background in building and managing a world-class distribution platform will complement the deep industry relationships and knowledge of our current team. George will work closely with the regional presidents to enhance our offering of value-added retailer and vender services across the country.”

Ristevski has experience in building distribution companies to make them world leaders within their industries. Previously, Rivtevski was CEO of Maxum Petroleum.

“I am excited to work with great operators like Jeff Sutherland, Danny Selman, Jay Joyce, Clancy Lavins and Steve Thoeny to maximize our potential as a distribution platform for independent retailers and their vendors,” Ristevski said. “Together, we will strive to be the best and most value-added distribution partner in the industry. While we have a national business, we will continue to operate with an intense regional and local focus to serve our retail partners. Our mission of ‘delivering success’ to the pet specialty channel will continue to be our fundamental operating philosophy.”

Merrick Pet Care’s Name The Can Contest

Merrick Pet Care is having a contest for dog lovers to come up with a name for its next summer seasonal dog food recipe.

Starting this week on Facebook, contest participants can submit an idea for a summer seasonal recipe, along with suggested recipe ingredients, for a new Merrick flavor to debut in the Summer of 2014, the winner will receive a year’s supply of dog food.

“Merrick has long been known in the natural pet food category for its high quality, innovative canned dog food recipes and their playful names – Merrick’an Pie, Ballpark Bonanza, Honolulu Luau and many more,” Mark Sapir, vice president of marketing for Merrick, said. “This contest – or “can”-test – is a way to tap into the creativity and passion of our pet parent community to help us name our next can. We’ll take the winning name and turn it into a delicious and nutritious recipe for dogs to enjoy next summer.”

To enter, visit Merrick on Facebook at Entrants may submit a recipe name along with suggested recipe ingredients before Oct. 21. Merrick will select four finalists based on the creativity and originality of their entries. These four recipe ideas will be put to a community vote on Facebook from Oct. 28 to Nov. 8, and a grand prize winner will be announced on or around Nov. 15.

The grand prize winner will receive a year’s supply of dog food, and their winning recipe will launch in time for the 2014 summer season with cans to arrive in stores by next May. Three first-prize winners will each win a 25-lb. bag of Merrick Grain Free Real Texas Beef dry dog food, one of Merrick’s newest grain-free recipes.

Blue Dog Bakery’s Second Year of Pet Treat Pantry

Blue Dog Bakery has started its second year of  Pet Treat Pantry, a partnership between the Seattle-based all natural dog treat company and select food banks in Washington, Oregon, Arizona, North Carolina and New Jersey. The partnership provides healthy treats to the canine friends of food bank clients.

Over the past five years Blue Dog Bakery has donated dog treats to more than 800 organizations, events and fundraisers dedicated to helping dogs all over the country with their “Say Yes” policy. The Pet Treat Pantry builds on the company’s long-standing tradition of community giving and engagement.

“Developing and launching Pet Treat Pantry in 2012 was hugely rewarding for Blue Dog Bakery,” Kyle Polanski, CEO of Blue Dog Bakery, said. “With the help of consumers, we were able to donate over 2.5 tons of healthy dog treats to our food bank partners. We are excited to continue the program, and are hoping we can top last year’s donation total!”

To kick off the 2013 Pet Treat Pantry, Blue Dog Bakery has already donated 3,768 pounds of Blue Dog Bakery treats to five participating food banks across the country. Over the next four months, shoppers and dog-lovers have the opportunity to help donate 20,000 more boxes, because when a box is bought, a box is given.

Those who purchase a specially marked box of Blue Dog Bakery treats are encouraged to visit where they can enter the registration code found on the box and select one of five participating food banks to direct their donation. For each code registered, Blue Dog Bakery will send one box of treats to the selected food bank. Participating Pet Treat Pantry food banks include:

•    Rainier Valley Food Bank – Seattle, Washington
•    The Pongo Fund – Portland, Oregon
•    Empty Bowl Pet Food Pantry – Phoenix, Arizona
•    Second Harvest Food Bank of Metrolina – Charlotte, North Carolina
•    The Food Bank of Monmouth and Ocean Counties – Neptune, New Jersey

“Since Hurricane Sandy, our distribution has increased by 20 percent,” Linda Keenan, director of development for the Food Bank of Monmouth and Ocean Counties in Neptune, N.J., said. “We recognize that a family includes pets and many of these families struggle everyday to provide for just their children. We want to make sure when we are assisting these families we are including their pets, and the partnership with Blue Dog Bakery and the Pet Treat Pantry program allows us to do just that, and make a difference.”

Specially marked boxes of Blue Dog Bakery treats can be found at national grocery retailers. To learn more about Pet Treat Pantry, where they can purchase Blue Dog Bakery treats, visit


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