USDA National Wildlife Research Center Symposia


Date of this Version

August 2007


Published in: Witmer, G. W., W. C. Pitt, and K. A. Fagerstone, editors. 2007. Managing vertebrate invasive species: proceedings of an international symposium. USDA/APHIS Wildlife Services, National Wildlife Research Center, Fort Collins, Colorado, USA. Also available online at


Many people would not consider their family complete without a pet. Unfortunately, for some pet owners, circumstances arise that prevent them from being able to properly care for their companions and pet abandonment has become one of the most common pathways of vertebrate species introduction. It is also one of the most challenging pathways to address once the animals become established, eradication and control programs face significant public scrutiny and are often challenged by “animal rights” groups. Prevention measures are thus the key to minimizing the size and impacts of the “pet release pathway.” Habitattitude™ is a proactive campaign designed and implemented by the Pet Industry Joint Advisory Council and partners to prevent the introduction of unwanted pets into natural systems. The campaign has three components: (1) educating consumers to make wise pet choices, (2) providing resources to enable high standards in animal care and maintenance, and (3) encouraging pet owners to choose among several alternatives to the release of their pets if problems do arise. Habitattitude™ messages are being promoted in pet stores, product advertisements, industry trade shows, and industry-relevant magazines.