CALABASH, NC. — The Association for Pet Obesity Prevention (APOP) announced July 28 the appointment of Susan Hays to executive director. A long-time professional of the pet food industry, Hays previously served as the executive director of the Association of American Feed Controls Officials (AAFCO) and was recognized by Pet Age’s Power 50 List in 2021, which highlighted top industry leaders.

“We’re thrilled to add Sue to the APOP team,” said Ernie Ward, Ph.D., veterinarian and founder of APOP. “Her vast experience and deep knowledge of the pet food industry will help us realize APOP’s mission to increase awareness, encourage research and treatments, and create pet obesity resources for veterinary professionals and pet parents.

“Ultimately, Sue will assist APOP in achieving its goal of uniting veterinarians and the pet industry to prevent pet obesity, extend longevity and enhance quality of life,” Ward added.

According to APOP, Hay’s leadership will aid in its commitment to meeting the increasing challenges of pet obesity.

“APOP has served as a strong grassroots movement of concerned veterinary professionals and pet owners for the past 17 years,” said Julie Churchill, Ph.D., executive board member of APOP and professor of veterinary nutrition at the University of Minnesota. “Adding Sue as Executive Director will enable us to move forward as a broader, more inclusive, and industry-wide coalition to help improve the lives of the dogs, cats and other animals we love.”

During her career in the pet food space, Hays has worked with several non-profits and served as the project manager for Pet Food Label Modernization (PFLM).

“I’m excited to work with APOP and its mission,” Hays said. “The topic of pet obesity is important to the pet industry and millions of pet owners. APOP has good information already available to veterinarians and consumers, and I’m excited to help grow and accelerate the organization.

“In 2018, an estimated 60% of cats and 56% of dogs in the United States were overweight or obese,” she added. “These are staggering statistics, and clearly a call to action. Pet obesity is a serious health threat to animals, arguably their top health risk. Our APOP data helps veterinarians and consumers understand the complexity of this issue and provide evidence-based strategies and interventions to both prevent and treat pet obesity.”

Read more about personnel changes throughout the industry.