The Santa Clara Co Animal Care and Control facility in CA took in roughly 2500 dogs and cats last year. Since 2008, the shelter has gotten its pet food for free from Hill’s (makers of Science Diet) in exchange for pushing the products on its website and to adopters. The contract is up for renewal and county supervisor Joe Simitian raised what sound like legitimate concerns at a recent county board meeting:
For starters, the county was giving the phone numbers and email addresses of adopting families to Hill’s, raising privacy concerns.
Moreover, the shelter wasn’t explaining why it was recommending the dog food. “The public doesn’t know the reason we’re hyping the dog food is that we’re getting it for free,” Simitian said, castigating the staff for using verbatim Hill’s language in its report.
And finally, the food has gotten less-than-rave reviews.
What are your thoughts? Shame on the county supervisor for throwing a monkey wrench into the free food deal which reportedly saves the county $19k a year? Shame on Hill’s for only offering to feed shelter pets for free if the shelter agrees to hand over personal information on adopters and read them their sales scripts? Shame on the county for failing to seek out other companies which might want to donate food for the shelter pets, simply as a charitable act? Is there some compromise which might be workable for Santa Clara Co? On the bigger issue of corporate shelter donations, should there be an industry standard where the donor is recognized in some form (e.g. via a plaque on the shelter wall) but not to the extent that Hill’s requires?