Looking for Leaders
By Cathy Calliotte
Published: August 1, 2013
With its State Coordinator program, the Pet Industry Joint Advisory Council is looking for volunteers to play a crucial role in mobilizing local industry members to fight ill-conceived legislation.

 

 

 

Cathy Calliotte

 

To strengthen the voice of the pet industry at the state and local levels, the Pet Industry Joint Advisory Council (PIJAC) is launching a new initiative to establish a State Coordinator program. As legislative and regulatory threats to the industry grow, this essential program will benefit the entire pet industry by coordinating efforts between PIJAC, local pet industry members and elected officials.

State coordinators will work with PIJAC and local volunteers to build issue- and community-specific strategies. They will be the linchpin to ensuring that the unified voice of the pet industry is heard in every state and local political subdivision in the country. PIJAC’s goal is to establish a comprehensive network of individuals at the state and local level so that no legislation is passed without input from the industry.


How Does It Work? 
When legislation is introduced in a particular state, PIJAC will contact the state coordinator to create a plan. Once the strategy has been developed, the state coordinator will disseminate the information and organize industry members in that state regarding the issue. With PIJAC’s assistance, the coordinator will organize industry members to write letters to legislators and agency officials, submit editorial pieces to the local press and present comments if necessary.


Why Do We Need It? 
Public policymakers are often amazed to learn the degree to which the pet industry is regulated. The commercial pet industry is regulated by 12 federal departments and agencies, several international treaties, all 50 states, and most counties and cities across the country. As an industry, we will continue to support all viable laws and regulations affecting pets and pet ownership. We will continue to be a responsible industry, but we will join together to put an end to poorly drafted and ill-conceived legislation.


How Do We Know It Will Be Effective? 

By example. Recent pet sale bans were proposed at the state and local level in Connecticut. Peach Reid, a PIJAC board member and the owner of Orange, Conn.-based aquatic livestock supplier Fish Mart, effectively became the state coordinator for Connecticut. PIJAC and Reid organized pet industry contacts within the state. Hundreds of pet industry members got involved in the legislative process by emailing their legislators, submitting testimony, and attending committee meetings and hearings. The efforts of the industry impacted the outcome of both pet sale ban proposals.

Instead of passing these bans, the state legislators passed a compromise bill, forming a task force to study the source of animals sold at pet stores. At the local level, the ordinance was referred to a subcommittee for further review. This is one example that illustrates the effect of a coordinated, unified grassroots campaign by PIJAC and the pet industry. These legislative issues are consistently increasing and need immediate action.

A unified industry is a strong industry, and PIJAC’s State Coordinators will be a leader in that movement. To serve as the state coordinator for your state, please contact Cathy Calliotte at cathy@pijac.org.


Cathy Calliotte is vice president of marketing and communications for the Washington, D.C.–based Pet Industry Joint Advisory Council. PIJAC provides its members a voice in state and national legislative issues through advocacy and timely information regarding upcoming policy issues that affect the pet industry, pet owners and the animals they care for. For more information, visit pijac.org.