WOW. Just got the most amazing phone call. Vince from Natural Balance Pet Foods has asked to be removed from our website as a sponsor because of “boycott” statements made by our organization. They were contacted by “someone” whom he would not identify. (Any Guesses?) In addition, they will not be sponsors for this year’s event.
We are completely OK with this decision, as it is Scrub-A-Mutt’s policy to not be associated with ANY organization or company that does not share our mission of improving the quality of life for all companion animals. This includes responsible pet ownership and education on decreasing the shelter/rescue populations with the philosophy that “Puppies Aren’t Products.”
~ Scrub-A-Mutt’s Facebook Page, 1/30/13
When I read this the other day, I pouted a little. Say it isn’t so? But then my years of experience in social media and blogging kicked in and I asked myself “is there more to this story?” To read more about the Bridges Pets Boycott, click HERE.
Social media can be a dangerous tool…
If you’ve spent any time on social media, then you know that too many times we only get a snippet of the full story so I was hoping to share why Natural Balance pulled their support of a local rescue group in light of the Bridges Pets Boycott. I contacted a PR rep I work with at Natural Balance and she put me in touch with Jim, a Spokane rep for Natural Balance, whom I immediately connected with over our mutual outrage that puppies are sold out of the trunk of cars on street corners. Arrrgghhhhhh!
Protecting your brand…
Natural Balance did ask to be removed from the Scrub-a-Mutt site, but not because they’re in support of Bridges Pet’s policy on selling puppies. They simply don’t want to be pulled into a controversy. Which I can completely understand, but I know that many people will have trouble with their stance. Natural Balance wasn’t aware of the Bridges Pets Boycott and having their logo on the Scrub-a-Mutt site gives the impression that they’re boycotting the pet store too, which they are not.
Natural Balance heavily supports animal rescue and rescue groups. Their primary goal is to introduce quality pet foods for dogs and cats through pet stores and rescue groups. They, themselves, are not a rescue organization and do not organize boycotts.
Doing what’s right…
It’s easy to question why Natural Balance isn’t standing with us in this boycott. We’re right in this one! Jim understands that there is a problem when it comes to people breeding dogs solely for the money. What we need to try to understand is that Natural Balance is a business first and as a business, they have to tread carefully when it comes to controversial situations like the Bridges Pets boycott.
By asking Scrub-a-Mutt to remove their logo from their website, Natural Balance is staying true to their mission of introducing quality pet foods for dogs and cats through pet stores and rescue groups. In the mean time, we need to push for more information, more education, and stop shopping at pet stores who sell puppies and kittens. The more we push back, the more our efforts will reverberate in the pet industry and that’s when we’ll see companies like Natural Balance pull their support from these pet stores as well.
Let’s not confuse animal rescue with a business. There is a difference. Rescue efforts are on a voluntary basis; a business has a responsibility to their customers and employees. That being said, let’s inspire these businesses to pull their support of these pet stores, by pulling our support first!
What I’m going to do…
I respect how hard it is to build a brand and how important it is to protect that brand. But I will stop buying products from Natural Balance simply because I think it’s wrong to support a store that is encouraging irresponsible breeding. This wasn’t always the case, I wanted to support Natural Balance’s choice, but after speaking with dog owners who “adopted” puppies from Bridges and speaking with former employees, I don’t see how any brand can continue working with this store in light of what they’re allegedly doing with puppies and dogs and their, in my opinion, distaste for rescue organizations.
I will continue to support Scrub-a-Mutt, because I respect what they’re doing, I love that they do so much for dogs, and I’m happy that they launched the Bridges Pets boycott. The amount of great information being shared is going to be invaluable.
Update 6/5/2013: Natural Balance has been sold to Del Monte, a company that sources chicken from China (their Milo’s Kitchen was recalled), if you purchase their products for your dog, please note that although they say that they will not be sourcing ingredients from China, we can’t predict changes in their business practices. Keep your dogs safe.