Sticking the Landing
The first-ever Washington fly-in will give pet industry professionals the chance to meet with officials in Congress to discuss legislation and regulations.
Have you ever found yourself wanting to give Congress a piece of your mind? Or maybe you’ve wished you could shake a senator’s hand and thank her for standing up for what’s right? On September 6, you can do just that alongside dozens of your fellow pet care professionals at the pet industry’s first Washington fly-in.
A fly-in is an organized event in which people from across the country gather in Washington to meet with their elected officials. It is simultaneously a chance to demonstrate the scope of the pet care community and to humanize it by connecting elected officials with individuals like you, so you can tell your own personal stories.
Our fly-in will build on the success of the annual Pet Night on Capitol Hill, hosted by the Pet Leadership Council (PLC) and the Human Animal Bond Research Institute (HABRI). At Pet Night, members of Congress and their staff learn about all of the important work that the pet industry does on behalf of people and pets—for example, educational programs like Pets in the Classroom and Habitattitude.
Additionally, the PLC presents its “Pets’ Best Friend” awards to legislators who have demonstrated support for pets, pet owners and those of us who serve them, and the Animal Health Institute announces the winners of its annual “Cutest Pet on Capitol Hill” contests. Therapy dog teams, provided by our friends at Pet Partners, also ensure that all attendees get a chance to experience the health benefits of the human-animal bond. This year’s Pet Night will take place on Thursday, September 6, from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. in the foyer of the Rayburn Congressional Office Building.
But before it gets underway that evening, we’re planning to blanket the Hill with pet care professionals visiting Congressional offices and talking with staffers and members alike about issues that matter to us and to pet owners across the country. We will once again work to build support for legislation like the Pets and Women Safety Act (PAWS) and the Puppies Assisting Wounded Servicemembers Act (also PAWS). We’ll meet with representatives from the Animal Protection Caucus, the Veterinary Medicine Caucus and the Humane Bond Caucus, among others, to discuss ways in which we can help support their efforts, as well.
To accomplish all of this, we need your help. Of course there’s strength in numbers, but it’s also helpful to gather representatives of the responsible pet care community from as many parts of the country as possible. Congressional offices are busy, but senators and representatives’ offices try their hardest to accommodate their constituents when visiting from out of town. Your presence helps ensure that we get a chance to talk to your elected officials about legislation and regulations affecting you and your business.
To help you as you make your travel plans, we have secured a room block at the Capital Hilton, just a few blocks from the White House. Our preferred rate can be booked until August 8, and we encourage everyone to plan to arrive on Wednesday, September 5. You can book your room online, or you can call (202) 393-1000 and ask for the “Pet Night Fly-in” room block.
We’ll kick off Thursday with a light breakfast, where we’ll walk through what to expect during a visit to Capitol Hill. HABRI will hold a briefing mid-day to present some of the latest research on the benefits of the human-animal bond, and then we’ll head out to our meetings with legislators, where we’ll talk to them about who we are, what we do and how they can help. This will also be a great opportunity to remind them about Pet Night and invite them to stop by.
Surveys of Congress frequently cite communication with constituents as their preferred way to learn about issues of importance, and fly-ins are a great way to facilitate that communication in an organized way. If you regularly work with your elected officials, this is an opportunity to touch base while taking in Pet Night and connecting with others who are passionate about pet care. If you’ve never introduced yourself—or your organization—to the men and women who represent you in Congress, this is the ideal time to do so, as the fly-in structure handles scheduling and even provides you with guidance on what to do during your meetings.
We at PIJAC would love the opportunity to welcome you to Washington and have you share your stories with senators, representatives and their staff—please register today. If you have any questions about the fly-in itself, logistics or even other opportunities you might be able to take advantage of while in town, please reach out to me at firstname.lastname@example.org or give me a call. You’ll be doing your part to help represent the entire pet care community—and you’ll be glad you did. PB
Mike Bober is president and CEO of the Pet Industry Joint Advisory Council (PIJAC).