General aspects of corporate life

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Being the first full-time veterinarian with this corporation gave me the opportunity to work within the general guidelines established by the company and to steer my position in the direction the company and I felt the greatest need. On my first day in the corporate office, I met with the person who is currently the President of PETCO. We discussed my position as a whole and what would be expected in general terms. It was my contention that I should be the Animal Advocate for PETCO: I would look at every situation through the ‘‘Eyes of the Animal,’’ without regard to the financial circumstances, and to ensure that, first and foremost, the animals are given everything they needed not to simply survive, but to thrive. That philosophy was not only fully accepted by PETCO but embraced by the senior management, and has been my perspective in every circumstance I face. That philosophy and the support given to me by the senior members of the management team at PETCO has given me the unheard of ability to recommend things on a national level that will have a deleterious financial effect on the companydwithout fear of reprisal. In fact, I am always expected to recommend actions in the best interest of the animal regardless of the cost. The cost of a program and the financial impact of my recommendations are always considered, but they are not intended to be a function of my job. However, when I make recommendations, I am expected to understand the financial impact of my recommendations. In most circumstances the decision is made simply because it is the right thing to do for the animalsd no matter what the financial considerations. My position has numerous responsibilities; first and foremost, my overlying duty is to ensure that we do everything in our power to set the highest animal care standards in the pet industry. It is my opinion, an opinion that is shared by the senior management team, that either we will have the highest animal care standards in the pet industry or we should not sell animals. To do this, we constantly review and update our policies and procedures, starting with where we purchase the animals, how they are shipped to our stores, and every aspect of the care while they are in our stores. Every species of animal we sell is carefully considered as to its ability to be an appropriate pet for our customer based on its husbandry requirements and compatibility. We also spend a great deal of time on care sheets for all the animals we sell, as well as numerous animals we choose not to sell. Our care sheets (Fig. 1), which are given to every person who purchases an animal, and are available to anyone who walks in the store or goes online to the PETCO Web site, contain all the information necessary for a new pet parent to successfully care for the animal they purchased. The care sheets also have a section that helps the customer determine if the animal is suitable for their family dynamics. Our store associates are trained to ask questions to help the customer decide which pet is appropriate for the customer’s circumstances and have the autonomy to refuse a sale if they do not believe the customer has the ability to care for the animal properly. Our Animal Care and Education staff reviews every care sheet for technical accuracy from the animal health viewpoint as well as behavior. One other important aspect of my duties is the education of our associates. As a corporation, we strive to hire people who love animals. It is one of the most important characteristics we look for when hiring store associates as well as associates in our corporate offices. Once an associate is hired they must study a vast array of educational materials designed to make them familiar with the animals we carry, their husbandry needs, and what the animal needs to live a long and healthy life once they are purchased. Those associates who wish to concentrate on the animal care portion of our business continue with numerous programs that will eventually lead them to become a companion animal specialist in either one or several of our offered categories of animals, small animals, reptiles, birds, and aquatic animals. These training programs are very comprehensive, and include passing a competency examination to continue in the program. As the Director of Veterinary Medicine, my job is to help the performance and learning department with the technical and medical aspects of the educational materials. Other aspects of my job include helping with the design of the animal habitats used to house the animals in our stores. In addition to designing habitats, we have also totally redesigned our wellness areas, rooms used, and designed so animals that need medical treatment will be maintained in a hospital-like environment while they recover. These wellness rooms are separate from all other areas of the stores. They have their own ventilation system to ensure the room can be used as a quarantine facility if needed. The rooms are specially designed to house animals in individual habitats in a manner that is comfortable and at the same time facilitates medical treatment. Each room has a dedicated sink and refrigerator, along with a food-preparation area for the sole purpose of treating animals under veterinary care. We have committees that review policies and procedures relating to animals care and education to which I provide input. We have instituted numerous policies specifically related to animal care. In particular, during store hours, associates visually examine every animal in the store on an hourly basis. This hourly walk is recorded and reviewed by management teams outside the venue of the stores to ensure it is being accomplished. In addition to these policies, comprehensive Animal Checklists are performed periodically by Regional Companion Animal Coordinators (RCACs) whose main duty is to ensure the animals in the stores are taken care of properly. The other main duty of the RCAC is to help educate the store associates on the proper care and husbandry of our animals. We also have policies that outline how and what each animal is to be fed and provided with water. These policies also specify the cleaning schedules, along with exactly what types of toys are to be provided in the individual animal’s habitats.