Wednesday, February 07, 2007

Unusual Problmes Of An Unusual PetSpa Business

NEW YORK ( -- A "Kitty Washing Machine" video on YouTube, depicting a cat in turmoil while undergoing a Pet Spa treatment, is making quite a splash, cracking up some viewers and distressing others.

But no one is more offended than the maker of the product.

"It's going to destroy our image," said Andres Diaz, the owner and inventor of Pet Spa, which markets and distributes a system to wash, de-flea and blow-dry dogs, cats and other small animals.

"It's definitely going to affect our image and our company," he said of the video.

Diaz estimates that he sells 30 to 50 machines a year at $25,800 a pop - but he is worried that sales will plummet after the unflattering demonstration.

According to Diaz, the cat in the video was not well suited, behavior-wise, to be subjected to such a cleaning. He says some cats, like the one in the video, should be sedated and bathed under supervision at the veterinarian's office.

"Somebody is misrepresenting what we really stand for," he said.

Diaz insists that the Pet Spa is more humane than many other traditional pet-bathing methods. "We're animal lovers," he said.

"PETA thinks this hideous contraption belongs in a litter box, where every cat we know would gladly cover it up with sand. Cats need our companionship inside our homes: a window seat, lots of food and plenty of love - not to be shoved into a terrifying and claustrophobic water-soaked machine devised by some cat-loathing, profit-hungry jerks," Lisa Lange, senior vice president of PETA, said in an email.

"Using this machine is as ridiculous as tossing toddlers in the dishwasher," she added.

The company says the Pet Spa, its only product, was developed by a team of veterinaries, animal behaviorists and engineers about 14 years ago and 1,500 units have been sold worldwide.

Although the spa is mainly marketed to veterinarians and pet stores, which charge customers an average of $22 for a 20-minute wash, some pet owners have purchased the device for their homes.

"We're working really hard to try to find out the source of the video," Diaz said. "We also want to pursue YouTube to get them to remove the video."

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