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Vet questions national pet month sponsorship

CONTROVERSIAL VET Peter Culpin has written an open letter criticising National Pet Month for its choice of main sponsor, the specialist pet food manufacturer Iams, whose parent company is pharmaceutical giant Proctor & Gamble.

The letter, addressed to Phil Sketchley, Chairman of National Pet Month, cites criticisms of Iams' laboratory practices made by the animal rights group People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA).

In the letter, the outspoken Culpin, who has previously questioned the need for annual boosters of pet vaccinations and is an advocate of complementary homoeopathy and acupuncture in treating animals, says he is greatly saddened that National Pet Month has: ‘...succumbed to the financial enticements of sponsorship from the Iams pet food company.’

The letter contains numerous allegations made by PETA against Iams and calls for an embargo of its products by veterinary practices, stating: ‘I was sufficiently convinced of the truth of PETA's allegations that, some time ago now, I banned the sale or endorsement of Iams products in my surgery and, in the face of claims from the Iams company in their advertising campaigns that their products are 'recommended by vets' I would urge all practices in Britain to stop recommending and otherwise promoting or selling Iams foods.’

Last November Iams moved to silence its critics stating: ‘We conduct studies in just three kinds of locations: pet owners' homes, our Pet Health & Nutrition Centre and locations where dogs and cats are already living (e.g. assistance dog organisations, kennels, etc). We test our foods with healthy pet cats or dogs in their homes or with pets who already have specific diseases or conditions.’

Two years ago at Crufts, PETA member Joanne Sim from Edinburgh tried and failed to bring the anti-Iams protest to millions of TV viewers. She scaled a wall and jumped into the main ring during Best In Show judging and unfurled a banner reading ‘Iams: Puppy Killers’.

The protester was grabbed and then bundled out of the ring in a matter of seconds by the additional guards that were on duty during the live TV performance. Apart form some of the audience in the vicinity, nobody was aware of Sim’s protest and it was not picked up by the TV cameras. Sim was supported by another protestor was also apprehended and evicted from the premises.

This week OUR DOGS received the following open letter from Mr Sketchley in response to Mr Culpin’s claims:

‘With reference to your letter I would like to take this opportunity to respond to your concerns.
‘National Pet Month is working with Iams to ensure that the campaign can spread it’s message of responsible pet ownership across the UK, whilst raising as much money as possible for worth while animal charities. Without Iams’ support, this would be far harder.

‘This is the first year that Iams has sponsored National Pet month and we are aware that a small minority of people continue to believe false claims about their involvement in animal research. We have worked closely with Iams and they have provided us with all their information on this matter.

‘We are entirely confident that the claims by PETA are incorrect. Iams has a policy on animal research that prohibits illegal testing on any animal. In fact, their policy states specifically that they will only conduct dog and cat studies that are veterinary equivalent of nutritional or medical studies acceptable on people. The full extent of their research programme currently is simply to feed their foods to cats and dogs in open, comfortable conditions and to then study their impact on each animals’ nutritional and behavioural well being.

‘This policy is reviewed by a fully independent International Advisory Board of animal health and welfare experts, all of whom have visited the facilities.

‘We therefore have no concern about the facts of this matter and look forward to a successful National Pet Month, in collaboration with Iams and a number or pet charities.’

Iams publishes a full statement of its animal study policy at the website
* With thanks to UK Pets