Pulling Together

The long-term health of the pet industry will require collaboration among its many segments to fight legislative and regulatory threats.


I recently read the book The Innovators, by Walter Isaacson, which chronicles how many of history’s great technology inventors—from Ada Lovelace and Alan Turing to Bill Gates and Steve Jobs—collaborated with a team to find their path as creative and successful visionaries. Some of these inventors found their collaborative partnerships easier to embrace than others. For some, collaborating was a struggle, but they ultimately found answers, clarity and greater creativity when working with a team.

You may be wondering, what does this have to do with the pet industry? Actually, a lot.

The narrative of collaboration and teamwork is applicable to everyone working within the pet industry, especially when addressing the growing amount of legislation and regulations affecting it. We need the best and brightest minds collaborating together on unconventional solutions and providing insights to those facing legislative challenges.

Surrounding ourselves with peers in a collaborative environment will help us think beyond some of the traditional problems that have defined the limits of our industry. This year, the Pet Industry Joint Advisory Council (PIJAC) is already tracking 521 bills that would affect the industry—including statewide pet sale bans, animal abuse registries, new ESA (Endangered Species Act) listings and grooming restrictions.

You may be thinking that there are no regulatory or legislative bills that could ever affect you. However, the likelihood of one of these bills impacting your business in the future is inevitable, which is why collaborating with a team is critical. PIJAC wants you to help proactively influence and adapt to these issues before you find yourself affected by the oppositions’ attacks. You have valuable ideas to contribute: experience, insights or a fresh outlook on a puzzling legislative scenario.

You may have experience to offer from a similar legislative battle with uncanny parallels that can help someone. Even if the political relevance doesn’t seem initially apparent, clarity, ingenuity, and solutions flow when more people work together and new problem solvers join the team. Everyone in the industry provides value. We are greater when we work together.

As we continue to face a growing number of legislation and regulations, solidarity is key to winning battles. Going it alone can be the difference between sinking and swimming. Ed Sayers, president and CEO of PIJAC, has talked many times about his hopes for greater industry collaboration and what the future of the pet industry could look like with teamwork. The future of our industry is tied not only to our ability to face excessive government regulations and overzealous assaults by extreme animal welfare organizations, but also to innovate around them. So, how can we collaborate better in the pet industry?

PIJAC Membership—Staying abreast on all the regulations and legislative battles that could affect your business is daunting. That is why investing in a PIJAC membership is a smart way to stay informed on the changing political climate and what it may mean for you. A PIJAC membership offers the benefits of our legislative updates and connects you with our grassroots advocacy network of other like-minded pet industry advocates. PIJAC membership is a significant tool to collaborate within the pet industry. Membership also provides a daily news update known as “FirstLook,” which reports on newsworthy press in the pet industry. These comprehensive emails offer an opportunity to stay informed on trends around the county.

Top2Top Networking—The key to collaborating is networking—and the key to networking in the pet industry is the Top2Top Conference, which will be held April 28-30, at the Omni La Costa Resort in Carlsbad, Calif. Every year, PIJAC hosts the Top2Top Conference to give pet industry executives, entrepreneurs, elected officials, journalists and advocates an opportunity to come together, network, and discuss a myriad of issues affecting the pet industry nationwide. This year’s Top2Top Conference is the best opportunity to network and collaborate with the industry’s “Who’s Who.” The event will enlighten you on the most important legislative and regulatory issues that the pet industry is facing.

Reading history’s tealeaves has taught that success flourishes when everyone in the pet industry collaborates on progress. Our future accomplishments will be defined by our ability to effectively collaborate. We need our best minds fighting every fight, and as we continue to battle legislation and regulation that is harmful to the industry. We need you to step up and lead the pack.

Rebekah Milford is director of marketing and communications for the Washington, D.C.-based Pet Industry Joint Advisory Council (PIJAC).

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