Acceptance, Benefits, and Challenges of Public Health–Oriented Pet Business Regulations in King County, Washington

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Abstract

Context:

New regulations were implemented in King County, Washington, in 2010 requiring pet businesses to obtain a permit from Public Health–Seattle & King County (Public Health) and undergo annual inspections to provide education and ensure compliance with regulatory standards. The regulations were developed as a tool for zoonotic disease control and prevention education for businesses and their customers, as well as for environmental protection.

Objective:

To assess the acceptance, benefits, and challenges of the new regulations and identify ways for Public Health to improve educational efforts and assist businesses with compliance.

Design:

Cross-sectional survey.

Setting:

King County, Washington.

Participants:

Pet businesses with Public Health permits in 2013.

Main Outcome Measure:

Self-administered survey responses.

Results:

The response rate was 40.5%. The majority of respondents provided grooming, pet day care, and kennel/boarding services from small, independent businesses. Sixty-one percent reported Public Health inspections as beneficial, especially concerning disinfection procedures and using an infection control plan. Almost three-fourths of respondents used the Public Health template to develop the infection control plan. Forty-four percent reported using the educational materials provided by Public Health, and 62% used educational materials from other sources. Most respondents reported that they gained benefits from the pet business permit, although fewer agreed that they obtained a good value from the permit and fee. The most common benefits reported were protection of animal and human health and establishing the credibility of the pet business.

Conclusions:

Major challenges with the implementation of the pet business regulations were not generally reported by respondents. Most respondents reported a collaborative relationship between Public Health and the pet businesses. Improvements in infection control practices and positive responses to the inspections were reported by pet businesses. Survey results were used to improve infection control plan templates, increase the use of educational materials, and improve the Web site and business portal performance.

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