Unifying the Pet Industry

A new partnership between the Pet Industry Joint Advisory Council and the Pet Leadership Council has the potential to positively influence the public's perception of the pet industry.


The time is right to come together to unify the pet industry as never before.

At a time when Americans are embracing pet ownership in record numbers—65 percent of American households own pets, totaling 79 million households—it is more important than ever that we move forward with a unified voice and define who we are to become better advocates for legislation that is based on sound science, demonstrated outcomes and fact-based research to protect our right to own a pet.

In April, I announced, with pet-industry leaders gathered for the annual Top2Top Conference in San Diego, that the Pet Industry Joint Advisory Council (PIJAC) board of directors voted unanimously to enter into a new partnership with the Pet Leadership Council (PLC) to help ensure the sustainability and health of the pet industry. This partnership will help protect consumer choice and be more proactive in promoting the industry and its positive programs, while advocating for the health and well-being of animals.

Frankly, I am excited about this new transition and the incredible potential that it holds for the future of the responsible pet trade. In 2014, total pet industry spending topped $60 billion, and yet, according to a recent survey commissioned by PIJAC and completed by TargetPoint research, the pet industry had a 30-percent public approval rating, compared to animal welfare organizations that had 76 percent public approval. While the public approval rating for the pet trade is certainly low, the good news is that almost 60 percent of respondents gave no opinion either way. I believe, as do the leaders of the PLC, that this represents a significant opportunity to educate those who answered “don’t know”, “no opinion” or “refused to answer” about all that we do to care for pets throughout their lives.

We have an unparalleled opportunity to tell our story of care, competency and constant improvement to the 60 percent of people in the general public who have never heard from us before in an impactful way.

In the fight to unify our industry and tell our story to the consumer, looking at the sheer volume of pets that we have bred in the last 10 years helps strengthen our argument. Animal welfare organizations have rehabilitated and re-homed thousands of animals in the last 10 years. However, the bulk of the 79 million pets in American households were bred, cared for and brought to the consumer by us.

Our competency—caring for pets, not just about them— is unparalleled, and yet we fail to successfully tell our story to the consumer. We allow our opponents to define us when we rely on internal discourse instead of amplifying a cohesive narrative.

That is why leaders of the industry have banded together to engage positively and vigorously on the overarching issues that affect the 79 million American households enriched by pet ownership with the formation of the PLC. And that is why we at PIJAC are excited to be entering into a partnership that allows both organizations to continue to focus on our key strengths.

Through this partnership, the PLC and its stakeholders—including company leaders, industry organizations, trade associations and respected groups focused on responsible pet ownership—are committed to supporting a reliable and scalable source of funding for PIJAC’s government affairs team. The PIJAC-PLC partnership will focus on strengthening and consolidating key objectives and initiatives to keep the pet industry strong and vibrant.

As we have for 40 years, PIJAC will continue to promote responsible pet ownership and animal welfare, foster environmental stewardship and ensure the availability of pets. We will work to develop a cohesive government affairs program for the entire pet trade. As we all know, without a supply of healthy pets, there is no healthy pet industry.

This partnership will enhance those efforts in the areas of development and training, promoting a better understanding of the various segments of the industry, cooperatively addressing concerns of mutual interest, maintaining a liaison between government and the industry, and providing joint publicity and public relations on behalf of PLC member organizations.

I am excited about what this partnership means for the future of PIJAC and the responsible pet trade as a whole. The PLC consists of pet retailers, manufacturers, distributors, trade associations, live animal suppliers and like-minded organizations, all of which passionately and enthusiastically serve the cause of pet ownership and seek to improve the quality of life for pets and owners alike. This unification of the industry is unprecedented and has the potential to positively influence the 60 percent of consumers who have yet to form an opinion about our work in a positive way.

As we launch this partnership, your increased participation is vital. Currently, 90 percent of the industry is not contributing to any industry-related advocacy organizations or programs. The PLC aims to tell our story with one amplified voice, but it won’t be able to do so without your help.

Stay tuned to our monthly Pet Business column to learn more about our efforts here at PIJAC and ways you can get involved. If you have any questions/concerns, please contact myself or executive vice president Mike Bober at 202-452-1525 or mbober@pijac.org.

Ed Sayres is president and CEO of the Washington, D.C.–based Pet Industry Joint Advisory Council.

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