The next day we visited the P&G Pet Health and Nutrition Center. It’s where the research is done and the pets being studied are housed. It’s recently been expanded and we toured the new buildings and had the chance to meet some of the animals. I was surprised to find that dogs can be kept in the program up to 6 years and during that time they’re housed in dog runs with solid surface floors but they do have access to a small outside run. I did appreciate that they’re housed in pairs and the runs are designed so that they can see and interact with other dogs, but there’s one location in each run where they can lay and have some down time.
Each dog is taken out into a fenced outdoor space a minimum of 30-minutes each day where staff interacts with them. They may also be given a walk by a volunteer, or they can be “checked out” by a P&G employee overnight or for the weekend. They assured me that the pets are well cared for and they are healthy, happy, normal pets when they are ultimately adopted out.
Surprisingly the dogs are all obtained by breeders and they’re purebred and not mixed breeds. Their cat population is maintained by an in-house breeding program and dogs and cats are exposed to a simulated home environment before adoption to assist them in the transition.
Testing is done on the animals and as Dr. John Burr explained it to us; they will conduct studies on animals if a healthy human being has ever done the same. P&G has a complete policy on their site which includes:
We do not fund studies that require the loss of life of cats or dogs. We only conduct dog and cat studies that are the veterinary equivalent of nutritional or medical studies acceptable on people, including: urine, feces, blood and immune cell analysis, allergy tests, and skin and muscle biopsies. – Source: http://www.iamstruth.com/truthArticles.do?pi=RP&method=articles&articleID=2
While the buildings had a daycare feel, they were stark compared to my dog’s comfy lives. And yes, I’m a very passive vegetarian so it was hard for me personally to see the small enclosures; staff members were quick to remind me that not everyone sees pets as family members like I do, and many pets are left home alone 8 hours or more a day.
We then visited the Leipsic Ohio P&G plant where their dry kibble foods are made, bagged, and shipped. The plant makes over 80 different types of kibble with over 1000 SKUs and it’s obvious that every one of the employees we met with were very proud of their safety record and the precision with which the plant operates. We donned hairnets and hardhats and toured the bagging area first, then the distribution section, and finally the mixing area. Of course it smelled like raw meat and dog food which evidently employees are able to get accustomed, but for me I was glad that part of the tour was quick.
I was surprised that one of the top staff members didn’t know what a GMO was and wasn’t aware of whether or not the corn used in their product was genetically modified or not. I did find out subsequently from upper management that it likely is GMO corn in their products with the exception of their newly acquired line of natural or organic foods which are not made at that plant.
While they manufacture their own kibble, their wet foods and treats are made and packaged to their specifications by another company at a different location.
The final day of the trip we travel to the P&G Pet Care Headquarters in Mason, OH. A modern building set in a park-like setting, employees need never leave the building – they’ve got everything at their fingertips. A bank, gym, convenience store, wellness center and more are within minutes from their desk. There’s also a dog park out back and dogs are welcome in many areas of the building.
We met Griffin, P&G’s Vice President of Canine. Griffin is a Petit Basset Griffon Vendeen – a breed I’d never come across before. They chose the breed because it’s a medium sized dog that’s sturdy, well-mannered, and has a gentle personality. Griffin needs to be able to handle throngs of children and overly affectionate bloggers.
We heard from several different department heads and then it was our turn to be interviewed by the P&G staff. They asked questions about our buying habits, what we wanted from the brand, and more. The one thing I wanted them to hear was that I wanted natural and/or organic ingredients and I was happy to discover they’ve acquired a new line that may be what I’m looking for.
I left the event with the feeling that the employees truly believe they are doing what they believe is best for pets and they’re comfortable with the way the company is run and how they’re handling the difficult subject surrounding animal testing.
Connie blogs about being a vegetarian who cooks for her meat-loving hubby, OAMC, DIY home decor, gardening, and more. She’s a middle age mom to two adult boys and wife since 1983 to one terrific man. She’s been doing online reviews since 2002 and is in the top 100 Most Popular Authors at epinons.com. She’s the owner of Princess Time Toys, an online princess store selling quality children’s dress-up costumes and toys.
P&G Covered transportation and meals and lodging, while also giving us permission to use the photos