The Power of Collaboration
The pet industry can be proud of how we worked together to provide much-needed help to the people and pets impacted by Hurricanes Harvey and Irma.
While the people and pets of Texas and Florida endured the devastating effects of Hurricanes Harvey and Irma, the pet industry came together in an unprecedented collaborative effort to help those in need. Pet stores, veterinary hospital groups, manufacturers, distributors, associations and organizations put business aside and worked with lead disaster and shelter officials to coordinate the logistics of getting much-needed supplies to where they could be most easily accessed and utilized. This included sharing warehouses, facilities, distribution centers and transport vehicles.
The Pet Leadership Council (PLC) helped coordinate efforts on behalf of the industry prior to, during and in the aftermath of both hurricanes. From supplies and services to million-dollar donations, so many companies, organizations and individuals within the industry came together and made Texas, Florida and the surrounding states their priority. The PLC and its supporters turned the PLC website into a comprehensive resource for both consumers and suppliers, including a map of open animal hospitals and places where supplies could be found. Specific shelter needs and shipping locations were updated daily as conditions changed. Resources to help locate lost pets and find homes for displaced ones were featured. Information was pushed out to ensure those in need were aware of the countless offers available.
As news spread about the needs of pets impacted first by Hurricane Harvey, the PLC was flooded with offers from other companies wanting to help with the efforts around Irma. Shelters and aid organizations that heard about our support reached out to us for help. After organizing efforts for Harvey, we were in a position to address critical needs ahead of Hurricane Irma. This included coordinating delivery of crates for evacuation and temporary housing, medical supplies and veterinarian support, and as much food and other products as possible before the area became inaccessible. Having just gone through this a week prior, the PLC was more prepared and better equipped than ever to support those impacted. The group communicated daily with disaster-relief leaders to gain real-time information, share contacts, consolidate resources and provide support where it was needed most. We also worked with nearby shelters as they planned for an influx of displaced and evacuated pets so they would have the food and supplies they needed.
The Right Partners
In an effort to improve efficiencies with all the government agencies, relief organizations and shelters and rescues involved, the PLC partnered with GreaterGood.org, a non-profit specializing in disaster aid. While many companies were ready and willing to help get product shipped out, a tremendous amount of logistic consideration is required to deal with flooding, road closures and extreme access restrictions. GreaterGood.org was extremely helpful in getting these generous donations and contributions from our members to the right places.
I’ve been in the industry for over 40 years, and seeing competing companies and organizations come together for the greater good has long been a dream of mine. These hurricanes are devastating, catastrophic events. But, as we look for heart-warming stories coming out of the storms, one beautiful outcome is the outpouring of support, generosity and coordination provided by our pet community. As we know, pets are family, and we want to and can help our family when they need us most. I think we can all feel good that the people and pets in the impacted areas are better off because of our collective efforts, and we will continue to help in the recovery. I am also inspired by these events about the prospect of additional ways we can positively impact responsible pet ownership and our industry when we work together. PB
Bob Vetere is president and CEO of the American Pet Products Association (APPA) and chairman of the Pet Leadership Council. Do you have questions about how to get involved? Contact Vetere (firstname.lastname@example.org) or other members of the Pet Leadership Council, or visit petleadershipcouncil.org.