The Next 30 Days
The Pet Industry Joint Advisory Council's new leader is committed to fighting for the rights of the pet trade and pet owners in the face of threats from overzealous regulation.
In any new job, the first 30 days are crucial to learning new skills and setting goals to help determine the trajectory of your future success. During my first 30 days on the job as the Pet Industry Joint Advisory Council’s (PIJAC) new president and CEO, I have traveled across the country to meet and hear from many PIJAC members and others within the larger pet business community. I’ve focused on listening to your feedback and building new relationships, and I have valued the conversations we have shared and insights you have conveyed.
I know my recent appointment has raised questions—and eyebrows—throughout the pet industry. But let me assure even the most sincere skeptic that PIJAC is, and will continue to be, on the front lines, fighting to educate lawmakers about the demonstrated benefits of pet ownership, and defending and promoting your ability to sell pets, pet food and pet products. We will also continue to fight for consumers’ rights, especially the right to choose and acquire the best pet for their families.
PIJAC will maintain its integrity, grit and unparalleled resolve to fight harmful legislation and regulations with as much vigor and determination as it always has. We will continue to fight for the interests of pet owners and business owners alike, working with allied organizations and elected officials to improve legislation when possible and defeat it when necessary.
In my first 30 days at PIJAC—and well before I had the opportunity to join the PIJAC team—I began conversations with individuals and groups from across the pet business community about what it meant to be a pet food manufacturer, a breeder, a reptile keeper, a retailer.
As clichéd as it may sound, I have learned that I have a lot to learn.
I have learned that pet ownership, and the fight to ensure the availability of all pets, is more than a one-issue topic. I have always felt that bans on pet sales do nothing to address the issue of the few unscrupulous breeders who mistreat animals and, in doing so, give the entire breeding community a bad name. These bans only limit consumer choice, making it more difficult for people to find the right pet for their families. I have traveled to your shops and met with commercial breeders to broaden my understanding, and I assure you I will continue to do so.
As many of you know, my experience before joining PIJAC was primarily focused on dogs and cats as pets, but I continue to learn more each day about the broader world of companion animals. I have learned that, with proper care and education, most reptiles do not pose a risk to the public, and I trust that the breeders and suppliers who are working hard to provide healthy animals to the public will continue to educate me on the ins and outs of practical—and impractical—reptile keeping. PIJAC will continue to fight to make sure their rights are not denied.
As we have in the past, PIJAC will continue to use reason, logic and sound science to refute the charges and accusations made by anti-pet activists and misguided enthusiasts alike. We will seek to counter emotionally fraught imagery and anecdotes with data on the importance of the human-animal bond and the realities behind the issues. We will also work with you to tell your stories about why you got into the pet trade in the first place and what keeps you going. After all, you don’t just care about animals, you care for animals.
Let PIJAC continue to be your shield against unwarranted legislative assaults.
Let my tenure and experience in animal welfare and my belief in PIJAC’s mission warrant your due consideration and deliberation.
And let my next 30 days—and the 30 days after those, and the 30 days after those—prove my commitment to understanding and influencing the wide range of issues affecting the pet industry.
As I venture into the months ahead, I resolve to maintain an open mind as I meet more of you who represent businesses in the pet community. Your extraordinary breadth of expertise in caring for animals and successful business practices offer me the chance to learn about the best of what the pet industry has to offer. I am grateful for the opportunity to represent such a diverse group of business owners and pet lovers, and I look forward to continue working with more of you as we focus on the future of PIJAC and the larger pet community.
Ed Sayres is president and CEO of the Washington, D.C.–based Pet Industry Joint Advisory Council. For more information on how to get involved, visit pijac.org.