There are approximately 65 million dogs and 75.5 million cats owned in America. When you add in horses, hamsters, birds, fish and other species, nearly half of all U.S. households own at least one pet — and spend lots of money on them.

According to the American Pet Products Manufacturers Association, Americans spent an estimated $38.4 billion dollars on their pets in 2006.

This represents a substantial market for jan/san distributors who provide cleaning products to the thousands of veterinary clinics and animal shelters that care for our animals. As always, knowledge of the market is helpful before pursuing accounts.

I recently spoke with Warren Candler, a veteran animal control shelter supervisor, and gained valuable insight into important issues regarding sanitation in an animal care environment.

I asked Candler, “What is the most important issue when cleaning around animals?”

“The safety of the workers and the safety of the animals are both very important,” replied Candler. “We protect our workers on several levels.”

Candler further explained that workers are trained to wear protective apparel when cleaning and when dealing with animal waste.

Candler also uses a chemical cleaning system designed with safety in mind. A high-dilution, hospital-grade germicide is purchased in drums and dispensed through a metering system.

After the concentrate is diluted, it is transferred to a foam gum which further dilutes the germicide. This method prevents workers from coming into contact with concentrated chemical.

“Our germicide has to be a good cleaner,” Candler explained. “We need it to clean body oils, food and organic matter. It also must kill harmful organisms such as parvovirus and distemper. Using a good, broad-based germicide allows employees to limit the use of bleach and that makes cleaning safer for people and animals. When you use good products and procedures that are designed to protect people you also protect the animals at the same time.”

Candler uses germicide to clean most of the surfaces in the shelter such as the kennels, floors in the hallways and lobby, and in the restrooms. He discourages the use of deodorants because he believes clean surfaces will not produce odors.

“The only place deodorants are normally used in our facility is in the lobby area,” he noted. “We add some water soluble deodorant to our mop water and will occasionally spray some into the air. Of course, we do use deodorants on our trucks that pick up animals that have died.”

In animal care facilities, kennels require the most attention. To properly clean the kennel, the animals are moved to a rolling cage. The rest mat is then removed from the floor and disinfected.

Next, the drain cover is pulled which allows waste, spilled food, and other debris to be washed away. The run is then sprayed with germicide and manually scrubbed with a deck brush and rest mats are scrubbed as well.

The mat and floor are subsequently rinsed and dried with a floor squeegee. The animal can then be returned to the cage.

Candler has developed a practical cleaning program that meets his dual goals of providing a safe and clean environment for his workers and the animals he shelters.

His philosophy is sound and its efficacy has been proven by continued use over many years. We would all do well to share it as an added service to the animal care providers we meet.

Louie Davis Jr. is a 25-year veteran of the jan/san business, having worked on the manufacturing and distribution sides. He is currently a sales representative for Central Paper Co., in Birmingham, Ala.