A PIJAC Term Retrospective
The outgoing chair of the Pet Industry Joint Advisory Council looks back at the great strides that have been made within the pet care community.
As my second term as chair of the board of directors of the Pet Industry Joint Advisory Council (PIJAC) comes to an end this month, I look back on the past four years—and beyond—with pride. Pride in what the responsible pet care community has accomplished, and pride in the pet professionals who have worked together for the betterment of pets and the pet care community.
There have been more than a few memorable moments during my tenure, but one that really stands out as exceptional is the effort to create national standards of care for small animals for the breeding and distribution communities. We knew the guide needed to encompass the care of everything from hamsters, guinea pigs and gerbils, parakeets, cockatiels and other birds to reptiles, amphibians and more.
Pulling together experts and stakeholders representing retailers, breeders, veterinarians, distributors and other pet professional groups was an enormous undertaking. But we did it, and I was so impressed with the people who believed in the value of the effort and took time out from their businesses to come to Chicago in 2016 for the kickoff meeting. From that meeting, the PIJAC Small Animal Care Committee was born.
Over the course of the next year, the committee developed the PIJAC Small Animal Standards of Care—the first-ever, comprehensive set of voluntary standards for breeders and distributors of small mammals, reptiles and birds. It was released at SuperZoo in Las Vegas in 2017, and then distributed to over 100 breeders and distributors who practice these standards to this day.
I’m also particularly proud of our work to protect human and animal health. Our Zoonoses Committee, comprised of experts from different segments of the pet care community, veterinary medicine and public health, works collaboratively with governmental and non-governmental organizations on ways to prevent zoonotic diseases. Over the past two years, they’ve produced two outstanding resources, the Recommendations for Antibiotic Stewardship in Companion Animals and a new Pet Store Pro chapter on zoonotic disease prevention, which we are officially unveiling here at Global.
Both resources demonstrate the responsible pet care community’s commitment to taking proactive steps to protect human and animal health and helping foster lifelong relationships between people and their pets, so more people are able to enjoy the scientifically-proven health and well being benefits of human-animal interactions.
Building Key Relationships
Another point of pride is our establishment of the annual Pet Care Community DC Fly-In in 2018. Knowing that face-to-face interaction is the key to building relationships with elected officials, and that often members of the responsible pet care community either don’t have the time or the knowledge on how to set up meetings with their members of Congress, we at PIJAC created a turnkey event.
Lawmakers on Capitol Hill make decisions on trade tariffs, breeder rules, pet food regulations, environmental policies and more, so it is critical that our community establishes relationships that these lawmakers will turn to when these issues that could impact our businesses or pets arise. And, for the past two years, a broad cross section of pet care professionals, from all sizes of retailers to companion animal suppliers to product manufacturers and distributors, have visited hundreds of offices of members of Congress to do just that.
If you haven’t attended a fly-in, mark your calendar for Sept. 9, 2020, and make plans to travel to Washington, D.C. Not only will you meet the people whose decisions impact our trade and have the chance to share your personal stories, but you’ll be able to meet other pet care professionals, learn the latest research on the human-animal bond and get updates on the political, regulatory and legislative landscape in Washington. We’ll be sharing details on registration, hotel blocks and more over the coming months and also at pijac.org/dcflyin.
As I complete my tenure as PIJAC chair of the board of directors, the final thing I want to say is that I am incredibly proud of—and thankful for—PIJAC’s dedicated members, board of directors, committee members and staff.
We have strengthened PIJAC’s role as a reputable liaison to federal agencies and demonstrated that the responsible pet care community is committed to animal and human health and well being. We have restored international relationships with bodies such as the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species and are actively advocating for the U.S. pet care community’s interests. We are known both inside the trade and outside as the voice of the responsible pet care community in America.
If you’re not a PIJAC member already, please join today at pijac.org/join. You support is critical as we work to protect and strengthen the pet care community, and our work is far from done.
Even though I am leaving my PIJAC chairmanship in the very capable hands of John Mack of Reptiles by Mack, I will still very much be a presence in the pet care community. It’s my passion and my life’s work. I hope to see you here at Global Pet Expo and for many years to come.
Laura “Peach” Reid is the CEO of Fish Mart and was the first female chair of the board of directors for the Pet Industry Joint Advisory Council.