About two weeks ago, I was fortunate enough to be chosen to visit PetSafe… While it was a whirlwind of a daylong (or-so) trip, it was well worth it! You can read why in this post. I learned all about PetSafe’s:
- Products and how they help pets AND their people
- Initiatives in the community, like Bark for Your Park, which grants one lucky city a $100,000 dog park each year
- Partnership with the University of Tennessee Veterinary College and the surprises that that relationship has brought to animals thus far
- Their pioneering research into pet products
- Their innovative solutions for housebreaking, feeding while away, behavior, containment & more
PetSafe®, owned by Radio Systems Corporation, is a multi-million dollar company with about 615 associates worldwide. Radio Systems owns many of the most recognizable pet brands in the world. This includes not only PetSafe® but also Invisible Fence® Brand, SportDOG® Brand, and other best-selling brands like Premier® Pet Products, Drinkwell® Pet Fountains, and Innotek® training products.
Rocky the Training Demo Dog. Photo Credit Patrick Mahaney VMD CVA at www.PatrickMahaney.com
The goal of the folks at PetSafe® is to create responsible solutions for the responsible pet owner and to always be looking to the future to see where they need to be (as that’s where WE as pet owners will be!) As the largest manufacturer of electronic pet training products in the U.S., PetSafe® is devoted to the most innovative research and most advanced designs available today.
And that has translated into success stories now spanning 52+ countries across six continents!
The PetSafe mission? “To be the most trusted brands in the pet ownership experience.”
They Pack the Pick of the Litter in Processes and People
What sets PetSafe’s product development process apart? As we were told, it starts with hiring a notable collection of scientists and pet-lovers –people devoted to the “pet-friendliest planet possible.” Together, they conduct a rigorous series of in-home tests with actual home- and pet-owners that put every product through real-world conditions just like yours, often hundreds of times! They gather feedback that ensures they’ve perfected every detail. Then and only then, with the added consultation of the world’s top trainers, veterinarians, and behaviorists, their products can stand alone in stores & online for both their excellence & value.
Giant Office Great Dane at PetSafe
People I met at PetSafe, people like Natalie Lester (Brand Marketing Specialist), Robin Rhea, Randy Boyd (CEO), Jim Tedford (Animal Welfare Director), Jill Weinstein (Senior Marketing Specialist), and at their UT partner facility veterinarians Dr. Donna Raditic and Dr. Joe Bartges are the kind of people who make the world go ‘round today. They make it better for us and for all pets; they’re trying harder and harder to do more and more for animals, and they’re just honest-to-goodness good-hearted people with manners, a true love and adoration of all animals and respect for all of our favorite other species too.
Bark-Tastic Processes = Beau-Mew-tiful Results
The process of innovation at PetSafe that we learned about was of particular interest to me because I’m in the marketing field and it’s always cool to get a peek at what companies do to brainstorm, etc. Anita White, Senior Program Manager at PetSafe® another Pick of The Litter said that the innovation process includes:
- Generating ideas, Capturing those ideas, Evaluating those ideas, Developing those ideas and Launching the ideas
It’s an entire culture of innovation there really… you can tell by the automated coffee stuff in the kitchen (lol). Seriously though, White continued on to tell us that the innovative culture includes: promoting, encouraging, producing, supporting and driving the innovation process. Keys to success include research, keeping realistic timelines, keeping intellectual property safe and communication, communication, communication.
I also liked what she said about staying inspired and always learning. She mentioned going to places where you find inspiration whether that be events, conferences, or seminars or dog parks; refining concepts; understanding your customer; and finding internal sponsors. Indicators of an innovative culture at PetSafe® include: patents, associate engagement, values and behaviors, and purpose-creating business value.
By the way, it takes PetSafe® about 12-16 months to get a product out. Currently, they have 458 Patents or Patents-Pending and 233 Registered Trademarks! WOW!
Pet Products Here Are the Cat’s Meow
Who knew that testing and re-testing so many different things would work out in such the company’s favor? No one back then, but today, PetSafe® is the proud Momma of products like…
- Containment Systems and Fences – both electronic and non-electronic for dogs and cats. Mew- we mean Phew – they have them for kitties, too! They’re currently looking at in-ground and wireless fencing! Their Wireless Containment System™ and Stay + Play Wireless Fence™—are safe, reliable, and a cinch to set up. With five levels of correction and an adjustable electronic signal, our wireless systems will help your dog learn his boundaries in no time.
- The Invisible Fence® Brand: In-ground fencing. They go from 1 to 10 in static correction, aka shock and let out a little beep as the dog approaches the line. PetSafe® does make products with vibrations for hard-of-hearing dogs, too.
- Boundary Flags: Place flags approximately 10 feet apart to remind your pet of his off-limits area.
- Paws Away Barriers: Indoors for dogs and cats, these send a radio signal or a series of beeps. They are a safe and progressive move if you don’t approve of the startling you might expect a dog to get from the static correction. These are designed to startle, not punish.
- Pet Doors: Did you know that pet doors (cat doors, too!) have high consumer category awareness? Possible reasons for purchase are convenience, freedom, price/quality, but tipping points include getting a new pet, a change in schedule, or previously owned one and it broke/was damaged. PetSafe even has a Pet Screen Door!
The famous Drinkwell® Water Fountain
- Pet Fountains: The auto-waterers, like the famous Drinkwell® and the Zen Fountain that I ordered, are easy solutions for clean water.
- Toys and Treats: Makers of Lickety Stik®, Feline Lickety Stik®, Busy Buddy bones/treats & more!
A House is Not a Home Without a Pet
Jim Tedford is the Director of Animal Welfare at PetSafe and I would bet you $5,000 right now that if you asked him that header question that he would say “true” or agree somehow… Tedford is just one of those genuine, affable, good-natured, good-down-to-the-last-drop guys. Plus he’s a pet-lover, sooooo… Anyhow, Tedford is in charge of corporate philanthropy, which, you guessed it, includes mostly all animal-themed programs at PetSafe®.
“We’re essentially working to make things better for all companion animals here, “Tedford said. “We’re a company that walks the talk…” That I LOVED! I can get on board with that anytime – a pet company that walks the animal welfare and pet donations talk is cool with me any way you slice the puppy pie.
The strategic objective at PetSafe is to support the community. PetSafe works in Knoxville, all of Tennessee and even has some national programs, too. Perhaps the biggest national program is one that auctions off a $100,000-dollar outdoor dog park each year to one lucky community, Bark for Your Park. The 2012 winner is Texarkana, Arkansas.
PetSafe Concord Dog Park. Photo Credit Patrick Mahaney VMD CVA at www.PatrickMahaney.com
In 2011, Concord, Tennessee, just outside Knoxville, and other cities were benefactors of a $500,000 grant from the company for more area dog parks. The PetSafe Concord Dog Park(see pictures at top of post) was the one we visited. PetSafe made a $500,000 donation a few years ago for Knoxville to build 5 dog parks, but the government managed the money so effectively that they were actually able to build seven! WOOF! These seven local dog parks inspired PetSafe to create Bark for Your Park so other cities could have PetSafe dog parks like theirs. Huntington, West Virginia actually won in 2011 and opened their park earlier this year. We got to see the dog park the first night there, but unfortunately I was in class so I missed it. My good bloggie fwiends were nice enough to share their photos however and told me that they saw: a local dock diving club put on a dock diving exhibition. There were dogs playing in the four-acre fenced in dog park area and they saw some folks walking on the trails beyond the fenced in area. The dock was
PetSafe Concord Dog Park II. Photo Credit Patrick Mahaney VMD CVA at www.PatrickMahaney.com
on the edge of a lake – cool! There is also a canine swimming area, a dog jumping dock, access ramps, walking trails, stone and grass dog run areas and a dog wash station.
PetSafe® has also worked with Morris Animal Foundation to raise funds for their cancer research. They are a national sponsor of this organization and Knoxville hosted walks for them in 2011 and 2012. PetSafe® also did a Black Tie and Tails Gala in August with a full auction, entertainment, a Doggie Daycare room for the four-legged variety guest, and that event had over 300 people at it! The event raised $30k! The group, PetSafe®, as a whole, is “very concerned” about canine cancer according to Tedford. In 2012 alone the company’s offices across the country raised $90,000 for the Morris Animal Foundation! PAWSOME!
These Dogs Wag Their Tails Using Their Hearts
Tedford continued to talk about the company’s animal welfare efforts and I nearly got teary…
He said the firm also offers grants and entertains proposals for everything from animal welfare to youth organizations within a seven-county radius and around the US. Other offices around the globe are also on the grant-train and the pet welfare generosity wagon…
“Paw it Forward” is a program that distributes products to qualifying humane organizations and animal rescue groups in the area; then there’s the Pet Ethos Fund, a tee-shirt program where $25 gets you a “Happy Dog” tee-shirt; all of that money is then used to fund animal welfare organizations once annually.
The “Most Pet-Friendly Community Initiative” REALLY impressed me. This is an initiative managed by a multi-disciplinary volunteer committee that increases the number of pet-friendly businesses in a community, making that community more pet-friendly by virtue. The goal of PetSafe® is to make Knoxville the pet-friendliest community in the nation – and from what I saw, they have achieved their goal. Due to PetSafe’s hard work, an ordinance was finally passed earlier this year allowing pets nearly everywhere! Pets were EVERYWHERE in the Market Square area of downtown that we went to for dinner Friday night – on the movie lawn, in restaurants, on patios, in stores, all over! It was rad!
PetSafe® donated $250k to Smoky Mountain Animal Care Foundation to help them reach Phase II of their funding target for opening a new shelter. The last lump sum was badly needed to complete the shelter and PetSafe® came through for them in an area that has “never had anything like that before.”
They also assist in relocation. Knoxville is the mid-point on the trip between NOLA and New Jersey/NY. Local Spay/Neuter clinics, PetSafe® and UTCVM partnered on a temporary way-station for the ASPCA with all the work that organization is still doing in hurricane-ravaged NOLA. Once monthly, a large group of dedicated PetSafe volunteers meets a transport vehicle and provides care for the “cargo” for 8-12 hours. Since April, they have helped save over 250 dogs and 1 cat!
Finally, in 2012, PetSafe® donated $235 MILLION back into the community through product. In 2011 it was over $400 MILLION. WOW – tell me that isn’t tearing at your heart strings right now…
What Counts is Not the Size of the Dog in the Fight; it’s the Size of the Fight in the Dog
Mabel in PetSafe-Donated UnderWater Treadmill. Photo Credit Patrick Mahaney VMD CVA at www.PatrickMahaney.com
At the University Of Tennessee College Of Veterinary Medicine (UTCVM), PetSafe’s partner organization, we had a splendid time! PetSafe® has its underwater treadmill there, (seen in picture with logo on the top left), plus they have paid for UTCVM to develop and have a stance analyzer, a revolutionary product that accurately measures standing lameness and assesses a treatment effectiveness at a price that every clinic can afford. The last generous donation from PetSafe® to UT is the Intelect® Vet, which is for electrotherapy and ultrasound. PetSafe® has also introduced a PetSafe® Vet Therapy Laser but UT doesn’t have that yet.
PetSafe® funds Dr. Julia Albright’s position here, and her (lengthy) title is the Assistant Professor of Veterinary Behavior and PetSafe® Chair in Small Animal Behavioral Research.
Every Dog Has His Day
Be sure to see the pictures of Mabel the famous UTCVM weight loss dog. She has lost over 30 pounds since she was relinquished from a family to a shelter. The family said that they “couldn’t take care of her anymore.” Oh okay, but you’ve been stuffing her guts for the last year obviously? People are such assholes. Anyways, poor Mabel thoroughly enjoys her time on the underwater treadmill and is the most famous weight-losing pooch in the nation I think….
“Dogs are Getting Bigger, According to a Leading Dog Manufacturer…” Lol.
Mabel the Famed UTCVM Weight-Loss Dog
I’d like to personally thank PetSafe and the key stakeholders I met for making my trip one to never forget. You are all down-to-earth, sincere pet-lovers who are dedicated to bettering the lives of our furry friends and for those reasons, not only are you and I forever intertwined, but I also love and respect you and your organization. So thank you for all that you do for animals from the bottom of my heart.
I took an all-expenses paid trip to Knoxville for one day and two nights to tour the PetSafe campus and the PetSafe-initiated “Bark for Your Park” local dog park in Concord, TN. PetSafe covered all air travel, transportation, expenses and meals.