Peticide – The systematic destruction of pets by corporations for profit

There is a brilliant article on the Bloomberg website by Jason Clenfield on the ‘corporatization of pet care’ (using the words of a vet John Robb). It’s a very long article so I’ll pick up on one illustrative topic in this article of mine. I’ll address another subject tomorrow. The word ‘peticide’ was also coined by John Robb. They are strong words but they convey an important development in pet care.


Until September 7th I will give 10 cents to an animal charity for every comment. It is a way to help animal welfare without much effort at no cost. Comments help this website too, which is about animal welfare.

This is about that well discussed topic: pet vaccinations. As independent veterinary practices are progressively being swallowed up by big corporations such as Banfield and VCA, there has been a gradual shift towards prioritising profit over pet welfare. There are two goals for vets: pet welfare and profit. They vie for priority. Welfare should be the main aim and profit follows but with the corporatization of veterinary services profit tends to take precedent. This is made very apparent with pet vaccinations.

Clenfield writes that many animal doctors ignore AAHA (American Animal Hospital Association) guidelines on pet vaccinations and have done so since 2003. In fact it has been known since the 1970s in research carried out by Ronald Schultz at the University of Wisconsin that vaccines provide long term immunity and don’t need yearly boosters. Decades of bombarding vaccinated dogs with viruses lead Schultz to conclude that a single series of shots is enough to protect dogs from the main canine diseases for seven or more years.

It was impossible to get vets to accept that so they bargained for a compromise: somewhere between seven years and one year and come up with three years as the protection afforded by vaccinations but actually it is longer than that.

When animal vaccinates were first created pets were treated as livestock which is why the US Dept. of Agriculture is still responsible for the safety of pet vaccines. And pet vaccines are the only medicines that are not scaled to body weight. Some vets asked if there was a safer method and still do.

In fact John Robb, who I mentioned at the top of the page and who ran a veterinary practice franchise under Banfield says that his practice was taken from him by Banfield because he started giving half doses of vaccines to smaller dogs in the interests of their wellbeing. This was against Banfield’s contract. Robb is suing Banfield for damages and the case is running today. More on that later perhaps.

The argument is that Banfield are ignoring AAHA guidelines for pet vaccinations. They deny this unequivocally but the evidence is there and Schultz says “They’ve paid lip service to it…but they are not listening.”

Arguably, this is the consequence of the corporatization of veterinary services. It is said that within a maximum of two generations there will be no independent veterinary clinics left in America. And pet welfare will be dispensed at clinics within big boxes as a discount service like buying pet food. In short: veterinary services by numbers and computers.

What is the rate of injury to cats and dogs by vaccines? Schultz thinks it is between 3 and 4 percent of cases or 1 in 200 dogs suffering from life-threatening reactions to vaccines. All the more reason to limit them which is not being done by Banfield. Even if the percentage are much lower there is still a risk and if the rate of vaccines is unnecessary the risk must not be taken.

“If you don’t need to vaccinate annually and you do, you’re taking unnecessary risks.” (Schultz).

Karen Faunt, Banfield’s vice president for medical quality, says that the company has been aligned with industry guidelines since 2010. But this seems to not reflect the true situation. Banfield introduced preventative care packages whereby pet owners pay a monthly fee of $30 to $60 which includes vaccinations which cost up to $40 each so the packages seem like a good deal but, as discussed, they are unnecessary so these deals are not financial effective from the client’s standpoint.

The overarching conclusion of this article is that the corporatization of veterinary services is not a progressive step in respect of pet health and welfare in America as the focus turns to financial profit. It will get worse.

Banfield is owned by Mars. Banfield admit that they are ‘economy class’ to coin an airline phrase. If you want first class go to an independent vet of renown. Banfield declaw cats when the cat cannot be trained to stop damaging furniture. That is their written, online policy.

Source: Bloomberg article.

3 thoughts on “Peticide – The systematic destruction of pets by corporations for profit”

  1. I once worked for a vet who was more interested in profit than the pet and person. We got into a nasty confrontation one morning when the rest of the staff called in sick. There was only one Dr. and me to handle the surgeries, appointments and the front desk. I had several clients in the office to check in for appointments and surgery and the owner (who was and older vet) came in raging because I wasn’t answering the phones fast enough and he had to answer those I couldn’t get. I came out of my chair and let him have it, then told him to answer the phones, take a message as we were really short-handed and I’d get to them as fast as I could. He stomped back to his office and the clients cheered and said they would find another vet. Needless to say, so did I. I have found in my forty plus years in the business, that there are more vets who truly care about pets than not, but sometimes one has to really look for them. My last working years were spent in a cat practice with one of the best vets ever. And he has trained his replacements to be the same. I would take my furbabies to no one else.

  2. Corporations profit by you having a pet. Not for having the same pet. As long as you have a pet.

    On cats and claws. Your home will never stay perfect. If you want perfect never get married, have children or pets. If your furniture is worth mutilating a cat over you shouldn’t have pets.

    The eternal struggle to keep pets in their homes and to keep pets out of homes they should never have been brought into weighed by the horrors of mass euthanasia of surplus pets.

    • Yes, cat and dogs are ‘assets’ as far as corporations are concerned to be used for financial gain and the close bond between human and pet makes the market very durable.


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