Animal Writes
18 March 2001 Issue
Wall Street Giant Pfizer In the Puppy Mill Business

Courtesy of Victoria King
from In Defense of Animals - [email protected] 

Hunte Corp. = Petland parent / supplier of puppies to Petland.

Pfizer gives advice to Hunte at a Missouri convention of puppy millers on how to increase their production of puppies.

The Hunte Corporation which produces over 35,000 puppies per year, shipping between 900-1200 dogs per month all over the country and is the corporation that owns Petland had an open house and seminar type event in MO. A post was sent by someone who attended that event that it was attended by a wide variety of "puppymillers" who were there to learn how to produce more puppies, more effectively etc etc. The breeders that the rescue person talked to bred over ten breeds of dogs each and many had
kennels with dogs numbering in the hundreds. It is up to your individual opinion to determine whether any "reputable breeders" would have attended such an event.

One key point was that Pfizer Corporation had a booth at this event and also provided a vet, Dr. Peggy Fisher, an employee of Pfizer, to speak to the group assembled there about how to increase sperm production in dogs, get more litters etc etc. (there were at least 4 other vets speaking as well, not from Pfizer). If you look at Pfizer's website for their Animal Health Division, you will see that they dedicate much information to companion animals and "education" of the public on related issues.

My thought was, how could such a large company, that was billing itself to be an educational force that cares about companion animals also be knowingly supporting an operation such as Hunte AND further than that, providing education to other unethical for-profit breeders on how to basically increase their profits (which is what the info disseminated will do).

So, I called Pfizer and eventually spoke with Denise Ulrich, Manager of Marketing Communications. Following is an abridged version (meaning not word for word!) of our conversation.

Ms. Ulrich stated that The Hunte Corp. is a long time customer of Pfizer Animal Health, but then stated that up until today she had never heard of them. She said they provide booths and speakers for many groups and how are they to know who they are speaking to or were they to know that Hunte is probably the largest puppymill in the country and that puppymills don't produce quality dogs? (Personally, I think that answer is laughable.)

My response was, how can you send speakers somewhere WITHOUT checking at all who you are talking to? I don't know any individual much less a large company who would do that.) I asked how they can do education if they themselves aren't educated. I told her who was in attendance and how they would utilize the information Pfizer provided them with. She said that she thought not everyone would agree with me that people who breed over ten breeds of dogs are puppymillers! (Hey, if anyone reading this disagrees with that, let me know ok?)

I asked her why with such an elaborate website, there is no way to contact anyone at Pfizer via email. She said that they don't have the time or resources to answer thousands of emails a day. (Take a look at other Fortune 50 companies websites, you will see multiple ways to contact them, including toll free numbers on their sites.) I asked her if Pfizer views dogs as livestock. She said absolutely not. I asked if rows of metal cages in long aisles labeled A-Z with hundreds and hundreds of dogs in them seemed like a livestock situation. She didn't answer. I told her to do an Internet search on Hunte and read the sad and shocking stories of dogs purchased from Petlands, bred by the very breeders Pfizer chooses to support.

She said they would send vets to talk to our organizations as well if we wanted. We don't mass produce puppies, so that doesn't help us, however, if they are so committed to helping educate, then why don't they offer grant applications to rescues and shelters specifically for education of the public on the matter of where to acquire a dog, what to look for etc etc. She said that they would have to create a whole separate division to do that! I said surely Pfizer must have a Community Involvement program already to which the answer was yes, BUT SHE SAID THAT HOW COULD THEY BE SURE THEY WEREN'T PROVIDING MONEY TO BOGUS RESCUE GROUPS OR BAD RESCUERS. I found that very interesting since they hadn't seemed to have been concerned about providing information / money / resources to bad breeders. She said perhaps someday in the future they would do "something like that". I commented that Grant Applications were exactly the tool used to SCREEN out all those "bad
rescuers". :) She also mentioned that she talked to Dr. Peggy Fisher this morning who said that the focus was on how to breed healthier puppies, not just more puppies and who doesn't see any issue with what they did.

Finally we got into a discussion about how they can't do any more to help our end because of the high cost of pharmaceuticals and cost controls. I had the perfect answer for that which I won't bother you all with the details of, but suffice it to say, Pfizer is notorious for being the most unethical and biggest spender out there in the human health field to sway physicians to write Pfizer products. This of course, is my opinion, but if you ask anyone in the industry, even some who work for Pfizer, they will validate that opinion.

So, to net it out, you can't email them. But, I have not changed my mind that calling and expressing your opinion on their involvement with this type of organization (Hunte) is not in their best interest as we, the people who have to clean up the messes that Pfizer is helping to create, are large in numbers, human as well as canine, that we do have choices in product and that we are intelligent enough when we go to a human or animal doctor to say we choose not to be prescribed Pfizer products.

I told her that Hunte may indeed be a large customer of theirs, but we, the protectors, the rescuers, the animal lovers, the activists and the plain old everyday folks who care about these animals and who have suffered at the hands of the puppymillers because we bought a dog we had to euthanize at 4 years old due to double hip dysplasia, or because it bit a child, or we who as a rescuer cried as we held a puppymill dog that was euthanized because of behavior problems, or watched a litter of puppies slowly die due to bad breeding...that WE CARE, and that WE TOGETHER equal a hundred Hunte Corporations at least. I leave this up to all of you.

If you choose to, call Denise Ulrich at Pfizer Animal Health at 800-366-5288 and let her know your thoughts. I got involved in this this morning because no matter how diligent we are as shelters and rescues, we can never do enough on the back end. It is the front end, education of the public, an end to unethical breeding and puppymills etc etc that is our only hope of stemming the tide of all the unwanted companion animals in this country. When this began, it was simply forwarding on someone else's call for help. But now, I fully agree, we need to act.

Go on to Are We Our Own Gods?
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