Pet Shop Protests Surf Dog Competition

Published June 20, 2013 by Imperial Beach Patch.

IB Pet is complaining that it is no longer welcome at the Loews Surf Dog Competition because a big dog named Petco is coming to town.

“This year’s event is different than ever before. We brought in Unleashed by Petco as a co-sponsor and that gave them exclusive rights to bring in their partners to help produce the event,” said Loews Coronado Bay Resort spokeswoman Jennifer Duffy.

The exclusive deal means that companies like IB Pet, who have been a vendor and sponsor of the competition since the store opened in 2009, were no longer allowed to set up a booth at the competition.

In response, IB Pet owner Lori Blauert had blue shirts made with the IB Pet logo on the front and “SUPPORT LOCAL” on the back.

“I don’t want to boycott the event. That’s not what we want to do. I want people to still go but they could wear the shirt to make a statement. I’m still for the whole point of it,” she said.

All proceeds raised at 2013 Loews Surf Dog Competition- Unleashed by Petco go to the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA).

Part of money raised from T-shirt sales will be donated to PAWS of Coronado and Coronado CARES.

Instead of being a part of the event that will take place Saturday in Pier Plaza and on the beach south of the Imperial Beach Pier, IB Pet may set up a table in the parking lot at Jersey Boys Diner across the street from the beach. IB Groomin’ and Seacoast Pet Clinic have also been extended invitations, Blauert said.

“It feels like we’re getting left out of our own little party, like we weren’t invited to our own party in IB. I know it’s [Loews] Coronado, but it’s still in IB, and I feel like if IB is going to allow them to have the event here they should support IB,” she said.

Duffy said Loews is in favor of anything that brings more money to the ASPCA is welcome.

Even before the start of the main event Saturday the competition has already doubled the $10,000 that was raised for the ASPCA last year.

Loews no longer organizes the event like a street fair with booths, Duffy said.

“The change that we made this year was every sponsor had to create some sort of fun activity for the festival goers,” Duffy said.

Among new attractions and sponsors:

  • AT&T will have a Family Splash Park where kids can play in sprinklers and adults can test new waterproof electronics.
  • Ice cream for pets and their owners.
  • Massages for pets and their owners.
  • Tillman, an English bull dog with a YouTube following, his own TV show on Hallmark Channel and mascot of dog food maker Natural Balance, will sign autographs and catch some waves.
  • Food trucks will attend.
  • Stone Brewing Co. beer tasting at the Natural Balance Beer Garden.
  • Unleashed by Petco dog park will be a fenced-in dog beach where dogs can play with Unleashed by Petco trainers and toys from Chuckit! Fetch Games.
  • On-site pet adoption by the San Diego County Humane Society.
  • A Chill Zone where people can get out of the sun, get food and watch the surf competition via closed-loop television sets.

“I want to make it very clear that Loews Corondao Bay does support local organizations and in fact Petco is a San Diego-based corporation, and that our goal is to engage the larger San Diego community as well as all the people that travel across the country to attend this magnificent event,” Duffy said.

“The more attention we bring to this event the more attention we’ll bring to Imperial Beach as a great location. So we see this all as a positive. And in the end it’s all about raising money for the ASPCA.”

Blauert said she is happy if the event makes more money but Loews isn’t doing what’s best for the ASPCA.

“They’re excluding businesses that want to participate. That’s just more money for the ASPCA,” she said.

Surf Dog is about raising money for pet causes but it’s also about money and marketing for IB Pet, Loews and Petco.

IB Pet and IB Groomin’ across the street typically see more business on the day of the competition, Blauert said, and Loews sells room deals and tout the resort’s pet-friendly culture.

“I don’t see how it’s really a big deal. I mean it’s Petco. Is it really a big deal that we’re there? The few IB pet businesses like the vet and IB Groomin’? Are we really going to take away from their sells? No it’s not. We’re the little guys,” Blauert said.

Last year Russell and Lori Blauert criticized the City of Imperial Beach and Sudberry Development for not first offering space in the shopping center planned on Palm Avenue to local businesses. The two were allegedly told they could be tenants if Petco or PetSmart declined.

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