The Pet Industry is Going to Washington
Join your peers and colleagues in the nation’s capital this fall to meet and tell your story to the lawmakers who have the power to determine the fate of your business.
Each year, more than 1,000 companies make it their business to exhibit at Global Pet Expo. It’s just a good investment to have direct interactions with existing and potential customers, providers and partners.
As the advocacy voice for the responsible pet trade, the Pet Industry Joint Advisory Council (PIJAC) comes to Global to keep you up to speed on legislation and regulations affecting your business, and to learn what we can do better. We know that protecting your business and making your job easier is our job. This year, we’d like to invite you to make another smart business decision by joining us, the Pet Leadership Council (PLC) and the Human Animal Bond Research Institute (HABRI) in Washington, D.C. on Thursday, Sept. 6th for the first official Pet Industry Washington Fly-In Day. We need you there to help tell our story to lawmakers who decide breeder rules, pet food regulations, environmental policies and more.
Last year, Pet Night on Capitol Hill drew 450 people—mostly staffers for members of Congress, but also members themselves and industry representatives. Top industry executives and spokespeople mingled with members and shared stories of the day’s meetings and seminars. Members of Congress spoke at the podium about industry-supported bills while their staffers excitedly mingled with therapy dog teams provided by Pet Partners and stopped by educational booths describing efforts like Pets in the Classroom. Additionally, more than a dozen Representatives and Senators were given Pets’ Best Friend awards by the PLC for their support for companion animals and those who serve them.
During the day, executives from across the pet trade visited Capitol Hill, as PIJAC and the National Animal Interest Alliance set up meetings with elected officials. This was so successful that industry leaders decided to expand the visits to the first-ever Washington, D.C. Pet industry Fly-In Day. This is an event that will send hundreds of business owners and executives to Capitol Hill to ensure that our story about animal care is properly heard by America’s leading lawmakers.
The main message delivered by PLC, HABRI, PIJAC and everyone who came to Washington in 2017 was that pets are important for human health and quality of life.
This important and enduring message will be top-of-mind again this year, as Pet Night and Fly-In Day participants urge elected officials to protect the ability of pet lovers to find their ideal companion animal, and the ability of pet care professionals to do the work they love.
As the legislative and advocacy voice for the responsible pet trade, PIJAC has been active on Capitol Hill for years. For example, we proudly co-authored an op-ed with Rep. Steve Cohen (D-TN) in 2017 in support of federal bills that would help women and veterans through better pet policies. And we coordinated a coalition of animal care groups that sent letters in support of the HOT CARS Act to Capitol Hill.
There is much more that can be done, however. This year, visits by pet professionals across the country will simultaneously show the scope of the industry—more than 1.3 million people were employed in full or part by the industry in 2015—while personalizing its impact.
For example, it’s one thing for the lobbyists at PIJAC to describe what your business does for companion animals and pet lovers. It’s another for you to
describe firsthand what you do, how you do it and the inspirations that led you to professionally care for pets in the first place.
Likewise, our arguments for or against legislation pale next to hundreds of personal stories about the realities of running a pet store, caring for pets throughout their lives, raising and collecting tropical fish, or creating and shipping food for millions of cats, dogs, birds, fish, small mammals and reptiles.
Hundreds of real stories and facts from real people have an impact on how politicians view the responsible pet trade. And doing it hundreds of times as constituents—not as a D.C.-based lobbying group—has an even greater impact. The business benefits of visiting Washington won’t end with the networking at Pet Night and connecting with your Congressional offices. You’ll also get firsthand updates on the political, regulatory and legislative landscape in Washington and how it affects you. You’ll hear from HABRI on the newest studies showing the strength of the human-animal bond and the power of pet ownership. And you’ll have a chance to help shape the future of the trade and the way we’re seen by lawmakers.
You’ll be hearing from PIJAC, PLC and HABRI over the coming months about guest speakers, hotels and other details as we put together the industry’s first national fly-in. In the meantime, put Sept. 6th on your calendar and plan to join us in Washington.
Mike Bober is president of the Pet Industry Joint Advisory Council (PIJAC).