Downeast Dog News

Where Can I Find A Humane and Ethical Pet Care Professional?

By Don Hanson, ACCBC, BFRAP, CDBC, CPDT-KA | Sep 01, 2020
Photo by: Debra Bell

I am often asked to help people find pet care professionals. I know and recommend many such individuals throughout the USA. Still, if I don’t know someone in a specific community, I always refer people to the Pet Professional Guild’s (PPG) Find An Expert page on the PPG website < >.

At PPG’s website, you can enter your zip code or country, and you will be able to review a list of pet care professionals who are PPG members that are closest to you. You can click on the details and learn more about them, including the services they offer and how to contact them. If one of these professionals does not provide the services you need, they may still be your best contact for finding someone close to you that does offer what you are seeking.

I recommend PPG members first and foremost because the Pet Professional Guild is unique in that they are the only association of pet care professionals in the USA that requires that their members abide by a comprehensive set of Guiding Principles. The following are the non-negotiables in the Guiding Principles.

“To be in any way affiliated with the Pet Professional Guild all members must adhere to a strict code of conduct. Pet Professional Guild members understand Force-Free to mean:

No shock, No pain, No choke, No fear, No physical force, No compulsion based methods are ever employed to train or care for a pet.”

In June of 2020, the PPG took the next step with the publication of a new Code of Ethical Conduct. The code was developed to address “…the need for a level of oversight in the pet training and services industry, specifically regarding business practices, transparency, and marketing.” It includes a Personal Code of Conduct which requires:

1. Members consider the emotional, physical and environmental well-being of each client, i.e. both the pet and the guardian/owner/caretaker of the pet, in all actions.

2. Members do not condone or endorse any treatment by a pet’s guardian that in any way compromises the pet’s physical or mental well-being. PPG members will not be party to any such acts.

The code covers much more, including business practices. It concludes with the statement:

20. By joining PPG, members agree to PPG’s standards, codes of practice, education and training philosophies. Failure to abide by the Guiding Principles and this Code of Ethical Conduct may result in sanctions up to and including the termination of the member’s membership.

Because of the PPG Guiding Principles and Code of Conduct, I can recommend a PPG member to someone without hesitation. While other organizations represent various pet care professionals, none of them have anything close to the Guiding Principles and Code of Conduct. Therefore I cannot give their members an unqualified endorsement.

The Pet Professional Guilds Guiding Principles and Code of Conduct are based on the knowledge and experience of experts in the world of pet care, animal behavior and training, and in the shelter and rescue world. The rationale for the principles is supported by a series of position statements that include references to peer-reviewed scientific literature that support those documents. Some of the position statements you might find of interest address: Breed Specific Legislation, Dominance Theory in Animal Training, TV Dog Training, The Use of Choke and Prong Collars, The Use of Shock in Animal Training, and Cat Declawing.

Long before I joined the ranks of pet care professionals, I was a pet parent, and the PPG did not exist. I was not as knowledgeable as I am today. Due to my ignorance, I made some grievous errors, electing to work with people who hurt my dog. < FMI - >. It was a decision I regret to this day. I do not want this to happen to anyone else. Please do yourself a favor, make sure the professional you choose is a member of the PPG.

I also encourage you to take advantage of the Pet Professional Guild’s FREE membership, especially for pet owners. By joining, you will receive access to a wide variety of articles on dogs, cats, birds, and horses. The PPG is an amazing educational resource for all of its members, professional and pet parent. As a member, you will receive a discount on some of the excellent recorded and live webinars that they offer. You will also receive access to an electronic copy of their quarterly publication, Barks From The Guild. I know you want what’s best for your pet. By joining the PPG you will get access to information that will help you achieve that goal. < FMI - >



Don Hanson is the co-owner of the Green Acres Kennel Shop ( ) in Bangor, ME, where he has been helping people with their pets since 1995. He is a Bach Foundation Registered Animal Practitioner (BFRAP), Certified Dog Behavior Consultant (CDBC), Associate Certified Cat Behavior Consultant (ACCBC), and a Certified Professional Dog Trainer (CPDT-KA). As a member of the Pet Professional Guild (PPG), Don is committed to PPG’s Guiding Principles and Code of Ethical Conduct. Don produces and co-hosts a weekly radio show and podcast, The Woof Meow Show, that airs on Z62 Retro Radio WZON (AM620) and WKIT 103.3-HD3 and is streamed at every Saturday at 9 AM. Podcasts of the show are available at, the Apple Podcast app, and at Don’s blog: Don is a member of the PPG Steering Committee and is the Chair of the Shock-Free Coalition The opinions in this post are those of Don Hanson.