Follow Us

Petco on FacebookPetco on TwitterPetco on YouTubePetco on LinkedIn

Facebook Activity

Dr. Tom: A Conversation with PETCO’s Vet

Dr. Thomas Edling works full time at the PETCO National Support Center as the Director of Veterinary Medicine.
What direction were you given when you first started at PETCO more than 8 years ago?
I was given one assigment, "Do what's best for the animals." I was told I didn’t need to understand the ins and outs of retail, but that my sole focus was to do what’s right for the animals. That’s been my priority since day one.
How did you get into the Vet field? I’ve always loved animals. Having personally taken care of virtually every species of animal we carry at PETCO, I understand the passion our associates and customers have for pets on a personal level. My family currently includes three dogs and a cat (all adopted), five chinchillas, two mata mata turtles, two sulcata tortoises and one Senegal parrot, in addition to three human children and my wife, Heide, who is also a vet.
I’ve been in Veterinary Medicine for 17 years. After completing veterinary school, I earned a Masters in Specialized Veterinary Medicine, focusing on avian and exotic animals. I then spent many years doing internships, residencies, in private practices and research at colleges across the country, before settling at PETCO in 2002.
So what does a typical day look like for you? My focus is with PETCO’s Animal Care and Education department, but I get to work with virtually every group in the company, from store teams to regional folks to a variety of departments at our corporate office, the National Support Center.
I help develop store policies, procedures and best practices to ensure top-notch animal care and I help create training and education programs for our associates and customers. I also work with our Merchandising team to review all new and existing products, I work closely with live animal vendors, and collaborate with the store design team to ensure proper and safe habitat setups, just to name a few things…really, every day is different!
You just completed your second Masters degree, an MPH at Johns Hopkins University, this time focusing on Public Heath, what’s the benefit in that? This degree allows me to gain knowledge and credibility in the public health community, which we work very closely with to ensure our animals are healthy and, in turn, keep the people who come in contact with our animals healthy, too. How does this affect your job at PETCO? I partner with the state public health veterinarians, who monitor standards and practices of veterinary health at the state level, and collaborate with various government and public health entities, such as the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), to be an influential force for the pet retail industry. We frequently partner with the CDC to determine solutions and standards for pet health and how it affects human health. Why should this matter to us? We understand that keeping our animals healthy and not a threat to human health is the best way to ensure animals will always be available as pets to enrich our lives as well as theirs. What’s some evidence of this work at the store level? We are the leading pet retailer when it comes to animal welfare and public health. We are the only pet store in the world where an animal must see a vet within 24 hours of getting sick. We do not sell any antibiotics, and we recently rolled out a new ringworm test to further increase our standards for store safety. We’re also making proactive efforts to detect viruses at the breeder level, before the animals even reach our stores. But also at the store level, we do everything we can to ensure we have healthy animals and that we maintain that health. What’s your favorite part of the job? I love the passion I see at the store level; our associates truly do care about these animals. They ask great questions and are always willing to learn more! At the end of the day, we are a business like any other, but here, the animals really do come first. We understand the animals and their needs, and their health and well-being is our top priority. Every decision I make here is with that in mind.