604 – Creating Better Outcomes for ALL Dogs

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Creating Better Outcomes for ALL Dogs

Host Laura Reeves is joined by the founders of For All DogsChris Fleming of Pinnacle Pet and Martha Boden of SPCA Tampa Bay. This unlikely partnership grew out of a mutual desire to create better outcomes for all dogs, including retired breeding dogs from commercial kennels and adoptable dogs in animal shelters.

As we wrap up “spicy October,” this conversation about a powerful alliance of opposing forces stands as a testament to the positive outcomes when we work together for the good of ALL dogs, instead of tearing one another down.

Fleming is a broker for commercial kennels who sell puppies through pet stores. Boden is the director SPCA Tampa Bay’s animal shelter. They describe their partnership and friendship as serendipitous. Their work is beyond groundbreaking.

Chris Fleming, CEO Pinnacle Pet

In 2008, Fleming began working with his suppliers to improve their facilities and programs. After meeting Dr. Candace Croney in 2014, he started encouraging these breeders to come into compliance with the Canine Care Certified program she created. Listeners may remember the episode linked HERE where Laura spoke with Dr. Croney about this program.

“So, the  benefits  from  the  Canine  Care,  it’s  data  that  has  been  just  really  kind  of  eye -opening  for  us,” Fleming said. “Looking  at  taking  notes,  breeders  do  everything  from  measuring  humidity  and  air  temperatures  every  day  to  stimulation  or  handling  the  pups  that  they  deal  with,  really  puts  in  a  more  hands -on  approach.

“What  we’re  seeing  is  better  socialized  animals.  We’re  seeing  healthier  moms.  We’re  seeing  when  you’re  focused  and  attentive  to  what  they’re  doing,  the  happier  mom  makes  a  happier  pup, you’re  having  lower  vet  bills  and  it  feels  weird  saying  this  now  because  it  feels  like  common  sense  but  now  it’s,  I  can  point  to  the  science  of  this.  So  lower  vet  bills,  happier  healthier  moms  and  puppies  and  being  mindful  of  an  appropriate  retirement  age.

“You  also  have  a  kennel  that  you’re  getting  moms  out  of  the  kennel  retired  at  an  earlier  age.  The  puppies  that  they’re  producing,  there’s  more  of  them.  It’s  better  litter  counts,  lower  veterinary  bills.  So  from  a  business  standpoint, it’s  lower  costs,  increased  profits.  And  so  from  an  animal  welfare  standpoint,  it’s  happier  dogs  and  kennel  owners  that  are  reporting  enjoying  the  time  in  their  kennel  more.

“That  leads  into  the  For  All  Dogs  program  and  it’s  a  pilot  program  for  us  because  we’ve  ran  a  few  of  the  retired  adults  from  canine  care  certified  kennels. But  this  For  All  Dogs  program  needs  to  offer  up  a  trusted  source  for  breeders  that  are  looking  for  either  canine  care  certification  or  at  least  achieve  those  standards  and  have  a  trusted  retirement  partner.”

As Fleming and Boden talked after a chance meeting at an animal welfare event, they began to have more in depth conversations about their two disparate worlds.

Martha Boden, CEO SPCA Tampa Bay

“I  started  to  get  a  feeling  for  what  a  puppy  distributor  did,” Boden said.  “And  then  as  we  were  having  these  conversations,  Chris  started  talking  to  me  about  Canine  Care  Certification  and  I  thought,  ‘Wait  a  second. This  is  not  something  that  my  world  has  been  talking  about  at  all.  Like  why  are  we  not  aware  of  this  amazing  thing  that’s  happening  at  one  of  the  best  veterinary  colleges  in  the  country?’

“And  I  realized  again  working  through  Chris  and  getting  a  chance  to  learn  that  it  was  still  kind  of  in  its  early  stages. And  so  I  thought,  okay,  well,  I  want  to  understand  more  about  it.  I  want  to  understand  more  about  these  standards. And  I  also  want  to  understand,  because  Chris  is  bringing  animals  into  my  community,  he  knows  something  because  he  provides  puppies  to  two  of  those  six  stores,  he  knows  something  about  the  world  I  live  in.  And  I  thought, if  there’s  an  opportunity  to  partner  with  somebody  who’s  this  closely  involved  with  animals  that  are  coming  into  my  community,  I  should  figure  out  what  it  is.

“So  Chris  brought,  I  think  his  entire  management  team  to  Florida.  And  we  talked  very  frankly  about,  would  there  be  an  opportunity  to  partner  and  how  it  needed  to  be  something  that  was  a  win  for  both  of  our  organizations, and  all  of  the  people  that  we  touch.  And  we  just  started  brainstorming  about  what  that  might  look  like.

“And  the  first  thing  that  came  out  of  my  COO’s  mouth  that  I  think  made  us  all  kind  of  stop  on  our  tracks  was  she  said, ‘You  keep  talking  about  a  good  breeder.  Well,  I’ve  never  seen  one,  because  I  don’t  get  called  in  when  a  breeder  is  doing  a  great  job.  My  team  gets  called  in  when  it’s  a  disaster.  So  forget  any  marketing  that  somebody  might  be  doing. I’ve  been  there,  I  have  walked  through,  you  know,  overwhelming  facilities  where,  you  know,  there’s  all  kinds  of  horrific  things  happening  all  around  us.  That  is  all  I  know. So  Chris  and  your  team, you’re  going  to  have  to  help  me  understand  what  a  good  breeder  is.’

“And  that  really  just  opened  the  floodgates.  So  we  basically  all  agreed,  all  right,  let’s  get  to  know  each  other.  Let’s  figure  out  who  we  are  and  what  language  we  use  and  how  we  might  be  able  to  work  together.

“And  so  we  went  into  it  with  a  very  open  mind,  but  not  a  whole  lot  of  preconceived  notions  notions  other  than  this  kind  of  idea  that,  hey,  wait  a  second,  the  Canine  Care  Certified  Standards  do  require  an  adoption  pathway  for  retiring  adults  and  gosh, one  thing  we’re  actually  pretty  good  at  is  placing  adult  dogs  with  individuals  that  want  to  move  them  into  their  home.  So  that  started  a  year -long  journey.”

Listen in for the rest of this heart warming story about a truly staggering partnership to improve the lives of ALL dogs. Please take a moment to complete the survey Boden mentioned HERE.


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