Sleeping With The Enemy: Why is PIJAC in bed with Animal Rights?

Pet Industry Joint Advisory Council (PIJAC)

by the US Herpetoculture Alliance

The short answer as to why PIJAC is in bed with animal rights is ‘Puppy Mills’; or maybe more specifically, the money represented by PIJAC’s biggest constituent, the Hunte Corporation (the largest puppy mill broker in US).  But why would the Pet Industry Joint Advisory Council (PIJAC) hire an Animal Rights  “fat cat” to run the pet industry. In a word? —  SURVIVAL.

In a shocking development, PIJAC announced that it had hired as its President and CEO, Ed Sayres, a man who has made his 40-year career in the animal rights industry, including a decade as the president and CEO of the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA).

Ed Sayres, former President and CEO of ASPCA, current President and CEO of PIJAC

Ed Sayres is a man with a storied career as a mercenary for the animal rights industry. While others exhibit ideological zeal, Sayres displays the kind of cold calculation attributed to a contract killer. He has left a wake of controversy involving ethical dealings with other organizations, as well as possible financial improprieties. Last year he oversaw the ASPCA’s payment of $9.3 million to settle a RICO lawsuit filed by Ringling Brothers Circus after the judge threw out a frivolous lawsuit discovering that Sayres’ key witness was on the take from the animal rights plaintiffs.

Sayres’ strengths are fundraising and political deal making. Some in the pet industry have suggested that he is an intelligence asset that has been flipped from animal rights advocate to pet advocate like some cloak and dagger spy novel. It is naive to think that after investing his entire 40 year career in animal rights, that he has suddenly had a change of heart.  Sayres appears more like a conquering general sent to administer the occupation of a fallen enemy.

It may seem counter-intuitive on its face that a pet advocate like PIJAC would seek to hire someone with such strong ties to the likes of Wayne Pacelle, CEO of the Humane Society of the United States (HSUS) and the zealous world of animal rights. Clearly Ed Sayres is a committed animal rights soldier, but PIJAC’s downward slide since the resignation of its founder and CEO, Marshall Myers in 2010 may have left them with few alternatives. Desperate times call for desperate measures.

Mike Canning, former President and CEO of PIJAC

To fill the vacuum created by the resignation of Myers, PIJAC appointed Mike Canning as President and CEO in September of 2010. Coming from the financial industry, Canning appeared inept in dealing with legislative challenges at the local, state and federal level. Canning’s presidency left a wake of legislative losses across the country, losing on puppy mill legislation at every level of government. Oddly enough, his one victory was in Ohio where state legislators intimated that he traded his support of a draconian anti-reptile/exotic animal bill (SB 310), for consideration on a simultaneous piece of puppy mill legislation.

Through Canning, the North American Reptile Breeders Conference (NARBC) used auction monies to fund a contract lobbyist in Ohio that acquiesced to SB 310.

Wayne Pacelle, President and CEO of HSUS

PIJAC may have been desperate when it decided to join forces with HSUS and the ASPCA on a definition of “puppy mill.” Certainly, PIJAC wanted and needed to slow the legislative march and strong public support of putting puppy mills out of business. In December 2013 HSUS dropped a press release with the headline, Pet Industry and Animal Welfare Organizations Join Forces to Address Puppy Mill Abuse.  In it, Wayne Pacelle of HSUS and Ed Sayres of ASPCA both sang the praises of PIJAC.

“We are pleased that the industry has come together in a meaningful way to acknowledge this abuse, and confront it head on.”  ~ASPCA President & CEO Ed Sayres.

It is likely that in the course of their close work together on puppy mills, the negotiations with Sayres, ASPCA and HSUS for control of the pet industry began, cloaked as “cooperation.”

In spite of, or perhaps because of, the joint venture between PIJAC, ASPCA and HSUS, the legislative pressure to ban puppy mills continued in 2014. More ground was lost by the pet industry. One small victory in Ohio back in 2012 was not likely enough to satisfy PIJAC’s largest constituent, the Hunte Corporation, America’s largest supplier of pet shop puppies, trafficking approximately 90,000 puppies per year (as of 2007) all over the world.

Since the departure of Marshall Myers from PIJAC, the regulatory environment for Hunte to continue to broker mass produced puppies to the nation’s pet stores had been significantly inhibited. PIJAC’s savvy opponents in the animal rights industry were steam rolling Canning, who quietly left PIJAC in early 2014. With continued pressure from Sayres and Pacelle, the Hunte Corporation seems to have become convinced that the best chance for continued profitability from commercially produced puppies was to try to borrow the mantle of humane treatment from an unlikely source:  the animal rights industry itself with Sayres championing Hunte’s cause.

“As animal welfare and pet industry leaders, we have no greater responsibility than to ensure that dogs in our country are treated humanely”  ~Wayne Pacelle, President and CEO of HSUS

Likely Sayres will create a set of PIJAC “best management practices” (BMP’s).  Already, he has issued a public statement extolling the virtues of the Hunte Corporation after visiting their headquarters in the puppy mill capitol of Missouri. If PIJAC follows its prior strategies regarding reptile breeders and feeder rodent suppliers, it may create some kind of accreditation process that could be offered to Hunte Corporation puppy suppliers. A move like this would legitimize Hunte suppliers, while leaving other puppy mill interests on the outside looking in. Future legislation could be crafted to exempt PIJAC accredited facilities. This scenario would offer salvation to Hunte, unite the pet and animal rights industries, and give both PIJAC and their new partners  kudos and fundraising opportunities while they claim to have “cleaned up” puppy mills.


Make no mistake, this is about money, big money. The pet industry represents approximately $58 billion in annual sales. The Hunte Corporation controls PIJAC and they will do whatever is necessary to keep their puppy mills in operation. If that entails cozying up to former enemies, so be it. PIJAC lost all autonomy with the resignation of Marshall Myers. They have now become a tool of the Hunte Corporation. PIJAC has sold the rest of the pet industry down the river so that Hunte can keep their puppy mills operating. Meanwhile, the animal rights industry has pulled off the biggest coup d’état in the history of the pet industry. As of yet, the repercussions of this upheaval are not quite clear, but this unprecedented development will likely have a negative impact on pets and pet owners for years to come.

Hats off to Ed Sayres for this apparent takeover of PIJAC and the pet industry by the animal rights industry. It was masterful chess move in the fight to decide animal policy in America. Although most animal interests will oppose this unholy marriage, large pet interests will support the move because they want to continue to sell pet food and supplies (and in some cases mass produced puppies). However, trusting people who are against the idea of animals in captivity to preserve the rights of people to keep animals puts the future of owning pets in the United States into question.

Last year the US Association of Reptile Keepers (USARK), the reptile industry trade association, went to great lengths to ‘swear fealty’ and follow the lead of PIJAC. The big question for herpetoculture and the reptile community is whether USARK  will continue to toe the line for PIJAC under the new regime.

Ed Sayers may ultimately be good for the Hunte Corporation, but his long time anti-reptile stance is counter to the interests and the future of herpetoculture and the Reptile Nation. Look for the pet industry to support or turn the other cheek at future bans on reptile shows and internet sales. Further, look for the pet industry to support heavy regulation of feeder animal production. And finally, look for pet industry support on invasive species and dangerous animal legislation that is contrary to herpetoculture. The agenda of animal rights is about to become the agenda of the pet industry. The US Herpetoculture Alliance urges USARK not to compound past mistakes by continuing to support PIJAC.

Say NO to Ed Sayers. Say NO to Hunte Corporation. Say NO to PIJAC. Say NO to the Animal Rights infiltration of the pet industry!




6 thoughts on “Sleeping With The Enemy: Why is PIJAC in bed with Animal Rights?”

  1. “He has left a wake of controversy involving **ethical** dealings with other organizations, as well as possible financial improprieties.”

    I think you mean to say “unethical”.

  2. Overall I found this to be an excellent article but I cannot bring myself to share it as written. Many of us in the dog breeding industry have been supportive of the herpe industry in this animal rights battle for quite some time now and we take exception to the use of the word “puppy mill” several times within it. Like most herpe breeders, most dog breeders are good people who take care of their animals just as most of you do. We all have some bad apples in all factions of the pet and agriculture industries. I’m pretty sure you would feel just as offended if we called all of you collectively “herpe mills”. Please show us the same respect we show to you and stop furthering the AR language of painting all dog breeders as “puppy mills”. Whether commercial or hobby breeders we would prefer being call dog breeders. Thank you.

    1. Nancy,
      I appreciate your point, and believe me we do not believe that most dog breeders fall into the category of “puppy mill” nor do we imply that in the article. Most dog breeders raise a limited number of dogs and use superior husbandry and an abundance of discretion when placing dogs, just like most reptile breeders do the same with their charges.

      The term “puppy mill” is not our term. It is a term created by AR and given legitimacy by PIJAC last year when they cooperated with HSUS and ASPCA on a definition. However, mass production of puppies for pet stores is a problem in some cases; just as the mass production of herps in the “reptile mills” located in Ohio, Florida and Michigan could be a problem. Pretending that these sub-par facilities don’t exist adds fuel to the fire of the AR arguments. The problem is that PIJAC would like to dress some of the “bad actors” up in the clothes of responsible breeders, while putting the label of “puppy mill” on the competition posed by the actual responsible breeders.

      I understand that you may not want to share the story, but using that term is the only way to accurately depict the deception inherent in it’s use by Hunte, Petco and PIJAC. I fully expect a repeat performance for the reptile industry. If you are not a source of mass produced cheap puppies or reptiles for bricks and mortar pet stores you will likely find yourself in the crosshairs of Ed Sayres. It could eliminate their competition and significantly reduce the number of people involved. That’s a win for big pets… and a win for animal rights.

  3. Hasn’t it occured to you, that if this master plan is to effectively erridicate complete factions of the pet industry, that first any solidarity that has been accomplished over the past few years, must be obliterated? Your derogatory and inflamatory references to canine animal husbandry, whether commerical or not only serves to divide pet producers! By placing blame at the feet of dog breeders, and trying; I hope unsucessfully; to drive yet another wedge between “me” and “thee”, you are simply feeding the AR machine. WE understand that you are upset. WE are upset. Yet, we refuse to place responsibility for this travesty upon anone other than the rightful culprits… The obviously misled board of PIJAC, the Animal Rights Movement, and Andrew Hunte for heaping allocades upon the whole stinking mess!

  4. Thanks for taking the time to read and comment, Karen. To the contrary, we have made no comment on dog breeding or even commercial dog breeding. In fact, members of the Herp Alliance executive team are active in the dog fancy, breeding and showing.

    We are critical of the Hunte Corporation, which is the world’s largest puppy broker. They are responsible for shuttling over 100,000 puppies per year all over the United States, and to Argentina, Chile, Mexico, Panama, Puerto Rico, Spain, and Japan.

    What do we mean by “puppy mill”? Let’s use the joint definition that PIJAC, HSUS, ASPCA, PIDA, APPA, Petco and Petland created together: “a dog-breeding operation, which offers dogs for monetary compensation or remuneration, in which the physical, psychological and/or behavioral needs of the dogs are not being fulfilled due to inadequate housing, shelter, staffing, nutrition, socialization, sanitation, exercise, veterinary care, and/or inappropriate breeding.”

    To be clear, Herp Alliance supports wholeheartedly responsible, ethical dog breeders.

    We are not being divisive here. We are reporting on and analyzing the facts as we see them. The fact is that Ed Sayres is a 40 year veteran of the animal rights industry. The fact is that the PIJAC board contains a representative from the Hunte Corporation, a representative from Petland (the Hunte Corporation’s largest customer) and others who represent the pet industry. The fact is that the Hunte Corporation and its legions of dubious puppy sources will benefit from this unholy union.

  5. I agree with Karen… one of the ways that the AR people are able to keep people in the dark is by jumping on one “set” of people who raise animals for human interaction- no matter how well raised orin what way. Many large breeding facilities rasie wonderful pets and are required by law to meet ( most exccede) regulations.
    As stated in hsus last release “our goal is all dog breeders to follow the usda regulations, …. to regulate all breeding of non mamanls (herp ) and fish. “…..

    While this is concerning I as a member of a community that has long fought and believed in everyones rights to animals husbandry and the love that we give our animals … no mater what the type or species, your blog lumps all in to one… and to disreagurd the the fact that “puppy mill” is a term that was made up by the AR PEOPLE… you have played into thier hands…
    In this fight … we can’t allow ourselves to dievied. That will be the down fall of all pet ownership…. No sane person support or believes n substandered breeding ( again in any speicies ) but I for one fight just as hard for your right to owen and breed your animals as I do those who breed dogs,cats ect. Becasue i believe that those who are rasing them within the law, derserve to keep doing it. Please contact Dog breeders Assocations and see how hard hey work before jumping on the AR wagaon. It seems not one of us agree with this so called “expert” to lead the PIJAC… so lets not allow them to tear apart, us who believe and support in pet breeding and animal comapionship or ownership. Becasue than we all will lose our rights.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *