Teaming Up for Success
PIJAC and the pet industry must come together to fight harmful legislation in the upcoming year.
In 2017, the pet industry faced almost 1,200 bills, ordinances and regulations at the federal, state and local levels.
We expect to see a similarly busy legislative cycle this year. While the Pet Industry Joint Advisory Council (PIJAC) is officially the national legislative and advocacy voice for the responsible pet trade, we prioritize working with entrepreneurs, hobbyists, and others who make up the pet care community.
Below are some of the many partnerships that led to legislative and regulatory victories in 2017, and issues where industry partnerships are needed in 2018. I urge everyone in the trade to contact me at email@example.com to get involved in 2018 with legislative or regulatory issues affecting the responsible pet trade. Only together can we ensure the industry thrives.
Teamwork in 2017
One of the biggest issues of 2017 was the survival of the Hawaiian ornamental fishing trade. We worked with fishers and scientists to secure Governor David Ige’s veto on a bill that would have banned catching ornamental fish. That veto was, unfortunately, rendered moot when the state supreme court ruled that the Department of Land and Natural Resources had to comply with Hawaii Environmental Protection Act (HEPA) requirements when issuing the licenses.
A lower court later ruled that all licenses were suspended until the requirements are followed.
PIJAC, local fishers and scientists, and aquatic businesses across the nation have since been involved in an expensive series of engagements—including litigation, environmental impact reviews and legislative changes that could decide the future of the fishing industry in Hawaii. Regretfully, many in the aquatic trade and in the broader pet trade have been apathetic about the real threat these rulings have on the Hawaiian (and worldwide) ornamental fishing industry.
If we succeed in defending the fishery in Hawaii, it will be due to everyone working together. The fishers and scientists provide necessary on-the-ground knowledge, constituent support and legal standing. PIJAC has used our knowledge of legal, legislative and regulatory processes, as well as outside experts, to support the fishers. And some within the national aquatic trade have provided financial support.
Partnerships were likewise key on two issues in Virginia. Pets N Pals’ Chris Foschini took the lead by organizing a coalition of pet stores and allies to convince state lawmakers to revise a potentially harmful bill. While I testified in person, lawmaker outreach was primarily conducted by the state-based coalition. In the end, Virginia enacted changes to state law that requires pet stores that source from commercial breeders only do so from those with clean records.
PIJAC, other national groups, and local advocates pooled resources to convince Arlington County, Va. officials to modify a potentially harmful ban to be one that benefited pet owners. PIJAC provided media and logistical assistance from behind the scenes, while local advocates and veterinarians made the case directly to the County Board.
Finally, New Jersey pet stores survived another threat to their existence through effective intra-industry partnerships. PIJAC was a public face against Senate Bill 3041 in New Jersey, but without leading pet stores and allies in the state and across the country contacting state legislators and media, then-Governor Chris Christie would never have seen the wisdom of a conditional veto of SB 3041.
Working together for success in 2018
As is hopefully clear, it is only through partnerships, alliances and seamless symbiosis that the industry can win important legislative and other battles. The industry faces further challenges in 2018 that will require all hands on deck.
For example, the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) has announced it will hold listening sessions to gather input from stakeholders regarding whether APHIS should recognize third-party inspections of breeders. PIJAC staff will attend two of these meetings, and we urge everyone to get involved in these sessions. These are issues that could affect not just dog and cat breeders, but those who raise small mammals, as well. The dates and locations of these listening sessions may be found on the APHIS website—and the more industry voices that are heard, the better.
Looking elsewhere, a number of groomer licensing and regulatory bills have come to our attention. We are in touch with the organizations that make up the Professional Pet Groomers and Stylists Alliance to ensure these measures are addressed by the grooming community.
In Nevada and Massachusetts, pet stores and PIJAC are continuing to build on years of lawmaker outreach and relationship-building so that a state bill in Massachusetts and a Las Vegas ordinance will allow the public to have access to the dog or cat that best fits their needs.
More regulatory and legislative issues affecting every sector of the responsible pet trade are already being introduced. As the legislative voice for the responsible pet trade, PIJAC is only as powerful as those who work with us. We urge everyone to get involved. Only through teamwork can we ensure the trade continues to thrive, and that all sources of pets are properly cared for. PB
Mike Bober is president of the Pet Industry Joint Advisory Council (PIJAC).