Resolve to be Proactive in 2019
It’s New Year’s resolution time of year again. Gyms are overflowing with people who plan to get fit, and grocery store carts are overflowing with vegetables and whole grain foods to fulfill vows to eat healthier.
But are you making resolutions to ensure your business is fit and healthy in 2019?
Here at the Pet Industry Joint Advisory Council (PIJAC), we work to provide and protect opportunities for healthy pets to thrive in loving homes through our role as the advocacy voice for the responsible pet trade. We expect over 1,500 legislative and regulatory actions to be introduced at the local, state and federal level in 2019—many with potential negative impacts on pet care professionals.
There are some proactive resolutions you can make to help defend your business against these challenges, and to strengthen and support the pet care community as a whole.
Knowledge is power. In this case, that means keeping your eyes open for potential threats. Just like you shouldn’t take a midnight walk down a dark alley texting on your cell phone, you shouldn’t be narrowly focused on your day-to-day business operations.
Stay on top of what’s going on in your area by reading your local newspaper and subscribing to community newsletters and blogs. Follow and monitor the social media accounts of groups who do, or could likely, take action to oppose you.
Find out what state and federal legislation and regulations, and local ordinances, are in the pipeline for your community by bookmarking and frequently checking the Government Affairs section of PIJAC’s website at pijac.org.
PIJAC keeps our members informed of what is being said within and about the pet industry around the country with FirstLook, an emailed news digest. If you’re not already a member, you can join PIJAC today at pijac.org/join and get FirstLook, as well as other important news and alerts, sent right to your inbox.
Activists opposed to the pet trade work to spread misrepresentations and create a negative perception of pet care professionals. One of the best things you can do to combat this is to demonstrate to your customers and to the public that you are a responsible professional who cares both for and about animals.
This could be as simple as supporting a local charity and setting up a table at their events. The charity could be pet-related, like a breed rescue group, but it doesn’t have to be. Even sponsoring a memorial or disease awareness event gets you face time to share your story and shows people you are an integral part of your community.
Invite local youth, church or senior groups to your store or facility for a tour. Show them how you take care of animals, or explain how the products you make or sell bring prosperity to their neighborhoods by creating jobs and using local materials.
Reach out to your local television morning shows and offer to do a “how-to” segment on proper pet care. An easy demonstration would be taking care of a fish, such as a betta or goldfish. Make sure you are sharing accurate information. PIJAC has pet care sheets that you can refer to and download at pijac.org/caresheets.
Do you have a relationship with your lawmakers? If not, you need to.
Many legislative challenges can be averted before a bill is even introduced, just by having a personal connection in place. If you’ve taken the time to introduce yourself and your business to your local elected officials—and nurtured those relationships—they’re more likely to ask for your perspective before acting on the often emotional and misinformed requests of animal rights activists.
If you need contact information for your lawmakers, or would like advice on how to set up a meeting or what information to share, contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
You can also resolve to join us, the Pet Leadership Council and the Human Animal Bond Research Institute, on Capitol Hill this fall for the 2019 Pet Industry Fly-in Day.
Last year, hundreds of business owners and executives came to Washington, D.C., for the first-ever fly-in, where they were able to build and reinforce lawmaker relationships by delivering the message that pets are important for human health and quality of life. We’ll be sharing the date and additional information for the event in the coming months.
We at PIJAC sincerely hope these resolutions are already part of your best practices. We are gearing up for a difficult legislative and regulatory year, and only through a collective and ongoing effort by all pet care professionals can we ensure a fit and healthy pet care community now, and in the future. PB
Mike Bober is president and CEO of the Pet Industry Joint Advisory Council (PIJAC)