|Letter from the President & CEO||Top2Top Early Bird Discounts End Wednesday|
|Where Do You Draw the Line?|
|Making Your Voice Heard||Building Coalitions at ALEC's State & Nation Policy Summit|
Dear PIJAC Member:
PIJAC celebrated holiday season and looked back over this past year. In 2013, PIJAC engaged its members more completely than ever to join the battle against legislation that negatively impacts your business and animal care.
Here are just a few things we’ve accomplished this past year:
- PIJAC launched its new interactive website (www.pijac.org) to provide members and concerned pet owners a voice in legislative issues affecting pets and pet ownership, increasing communication to legislators by 260%.
- With 44 critical wins at the state and federal level in 23 jurisdictions, PIJAC has protected the future for manufacturers, retailers, distributors, and live animal suppliers.
- PIJAC has been instrumental in building coalitions to tackle issues the industry faces. We’ve joined 10 state retail associations and enlisted 10 state coordinators to create effective campaigns against harmful legislation.
- From excluding reptile and aquatics shows from a ban in California and serving as a Task Force member concerning a potential pet sale ban in Connecticut to creating common sense warranty regulations in Illinois and promoting animal welfare through the Federal Pets on Trains Act, PIJAC has represented every segment of the pet industry through its advocacy efforts.
- PIJAC hosted the second annual Pet Industry Top2Top Conference, receiving rave reviews from industry leaders. The next conference will be in Amelia Island, FL on April 23-24, 2014. Learn more at pijac.org/Top2Top.
- PIJAC launched The Pet Effect, a program highlighting socially responsible pet companies that go above and beyond by doing good things for pets in need.
PIJAC continues to do battle with those who believe the pet industry should not exist. We look forward to your continued support in 2014, as PIJAC continues its commitment to helping maintain a thriving pet industry by promoting the availability of live animals. With a 55% increase in critical pet-related legislation in 2013, your continued support is imperative in ensuring the viability of the pet industry, and the best way to show that support is by renewing your PIJAC membership today.
Please take this moment to make your 2014 commitment to PIJAC. Your membership dues help us continue to mount a competitive challenge in the battle over pet ownership and protect your future. We thank you in advance for your support and wish you a wonderful 2014!
Very truly yours,
President and CEO
Save 25% - register by January 15th!
Are you an industry leader? Then join the conversation that will impact the future of your business and the industry for years to come at the Pet Industry’s Top2Top Conference in Amelia Is-land, Florida, on April 23-24, 2014. The thought-provoking sessions set the wheels in motion for executives to address the issues we face today and participate in solutions for tomorrow. From key trends on the newest generation of pet owners and the future of pet product marketing to using your business expertise to affect legislative change, the Top2Top Conference provides the information you need for a thriving business and industry.
But don’t just take our word for it. Who better than past Top2Top attendees to tell you what you’ll be missing if you’re not there?
Pet bans popped up all across the country in 2013. Various municipal governments in California, Florida, Arizona, Illinois, New Jersey and Ohio enacted bans. In the year just passed we witnessed eleven new bans placed on the books.
Surfside, FL aims to up the ante, by enacting the most far reaching ban of all. This town has called for a ban on the retail sale of all pets – yes that is right – all pets. Dogs, cats, rabbits, turtles, gerbils, and hamsters are listed as part of the proposed ban, however, given the pro-posal’s overly broad wording, i.e. “no animals”, even fish could be included. The initial vote was unanimous in favor of proceeding with this draconian ban with a final vote slated for 1/14/14.
And in 2014 it looks as though these ban proposals will proliferate across the landscape. A statewide ban in Connecticut continues to be a real threat. The State Legislature-appointed Task Force established to examine the ban issue has held contentious hearings with further deliberations slated later in January. PIJAC secured a membership on the Task Force and continues to make the case against a ban, but the ban proponents are many in number, including the State Representative Co-chair of the Task Force, who has indicated that enacting a pet sale ban is her number one legislative priority. This measure represents the first time we find a state-wide ban under active consideration. Sarasota County, FL has been actively pursuing the first county-wide ban in the country. Delray Beach, FL also wants to put a pet sales ban into effect in early 2014. The New York Legislature voted to repeal their local preemption law and that bill now awaits the Governor’s signature. Assuming he signs this measure, local governments across New York State are likely to consider enacting bans.
Four local pet sales bans were rejected in 2013. But in each case it was close – it could have gone the other way. In 19 jurisdictions that considered a pet sale ban in 2013, an approach of only saying no to a ban proposal seldom worked. In 2014, the industry must be prepared to propose a constructive solution to a real problem.
Unfortunately there are a few bad actors in the breeding business and they call in to question the actions of the entire pet industry. The stellar record of most pet businesses and pet retailers proves immaterial when emotional charges and damning visuals are the central dynamic of public debate. Industry opponents are determined to shut down pet retailers as a way to stop the bad breeders, no matter how misguided that tactic. Activists are going to continue to accost pet stores, their owners and employees with protests blaming them for the actions of bad breeders. And the more extreme elements of the opposition view every commercial breeder as bad and pet stores as nothing more than a conduit for these breeders.
What will happen in 2014? One certainty exists: the activists will continue to propose more and more pet sale bans. They will commit tremendous resources to these fights. They will pick lots of localities where the local politics indicate they have a high likelihood for success. With every success they will raise more monies to expand their grassroots capabilities and their lobbying outreach. They will increase the stakes. Statewide and county-wide ban pro-posals will become the norm.
We know the opposition’s play book. But what will the pet industry do to respond to these ongoing challenges? Will the pet industry adopt industry advocacy best practices and fund comprehensive advocacy campaigns? It takes a lot more than limited lobbying and testifying at a public hearing to win these fights. Will the pet industry fight back collectively or leave it to the few affected local businesses to scrape together whatever they can to counter the superior numbers and resources of the opposition?
PIJAC wants to do more to stop these ban proposals before this contagion spreads further. We want to increase our capabilities, expand our lobbying presence, utilize social media mobilizations, develop the third party research that makes for more compelling advocacy, mount a sustained public relations campaign and add an advertising component so the industry wins. But taking these actions on an expanded stage requires a lot more help across the industry. Even though you might not be affected by a particular ban proposal today, it is only a matter of time before these bans start to affect your business.
The prime question for 2014 is when will the pet industry, unified, draw a line and say “Enough is enough?”
Compassion, companionship and commitment, the touchstones of every pet-human relationship, are the cornerstones of PIJAC’s Pet Effect campaign. While the pet industry demonstrates these qualities throughout the year, the holidays are a special time when companies reach out to communities everywhere.
From K9 care packs sent to Afghanistan to rescue shelter donations, the people in the pet industry move into action in support of pets everywhere. Throughout the country, members of the pet industry reach well beyond their own businesses to donate directly, galvanize their communities to participate and have a positive effect on the animals we all love and call pets.
Pet Supplies Plus recently made the largest donation in the history of the 25-year-old franchise: 109,410 pounds of food to the Detroit Dog Rescue – an equivalent of $270,000. In addition, Pet Supplies Plus employees and their families almost tripled their goal to raise money for Detroit Dog Rescue from $5,000 to $13,000 and 20 employees were on hand to volunteer on December 7 at the non-profit’s pantry project.
In Portland, Oregon, Wet Spot Tropical Fish regularly takes in surrenders of unwanted and unsellable fish. Ailing fish, or fish that may require rehabilitation, are put into their in-store ‘hospital’ and nursed back to full-fin wellness. The store’s concern for animals does not begin and end with the ‘fish-set’ – every holiday season they host a toy and food drive for Portland’s local no-kill pet shelters that adopt out cats, dogs and other small animals.
For some shelters around the country, it’s Christmas throughout the year with KONG. What started in the mid-90’s as the KONG Seconds program has grown into KONG Cares, a program where slightly flawed, but always durable, KONG toys are donated to 25 shelters and rescues every month through their raffle. Kong estimates they’ve
circulated hundreds of thousands of toys since the inception of the program.
Facebook is one of the fastest and easiest methods to donate and Wellness Pet Food wanted to help their Facebook fans make a difference with a “You Click, We Donate” campaign. For every click, and/or email address submitted, $1 is donated The Cat House on the Kings (www.cathouseonthekings.com) and Green Chimney’s Farm & Wildlife Rehabilitation Center (www.greenchimneys.org) a nature-based special education program. Each charity will receive up to $8,000 in donations.
Tapping into their customer foot traffic is one method working for ANIMART Pet, Inc. based in Madison, Wisconsin. In addition to their ongoing effort in support of rescues, the ANIMART Giving Tree is full of ornaments with wishlists from the Dane County Humane Society. Customers pick an ornament and fulfill a wish for shelter animals spending the holidays without a family.
Pet Sitters International (PSI) organizes PSI’s Hungry Bowl™ Pet Food Drive held internationally between December 1 and 12 annually. Association members organize pet food drives to benefit shelters or rescues of their choice in their local communities. PSI provides the framework, guidelines and turnkey customizable materials to help members organize their efforts on behalf of the local animal non-profits. Last year, more 36,000 pounds of pet food were collected and distributed to shelters and rescues.
The pet industry is dedicated to helping to create the most positive experience possible for pets and their owners– including those pets in rescue groups and shelters who have not yet found their families. At PIJAC, we are inspired by our industry’s compassion and commitment to our companions. And THAT is the Pet Effect.
As state legislatures across the country reconvene for their 2014 sessions and local councils continue their year-round meetings, it’s a safe bet that at least a few of the items your elected officials take up will affect you and your business. Whether you’re impacted positively or negatively, it’s in your best interest to make your voice heard. But how should you do it, and what should you say to be sure your views are counted?
One of the easiest and most effective ways to take action is to watch for PIJAC’s PetAlerts. PIJAC actively monitors legislative activity at the federal and state levels through the LexisNexis State Net system, tracking every bill that falls into one of twenty-four relevant topic areas. When legislation is likely to have a significant impact, we send out a PetAlert describing the issue and encouraging you to weigh in. Simply click on one of the embedded links in the Alert, and you’ll be taken to a form with sample comment language. At that point you can personalize the message, enter your contact information and send it off to your elected officials. As an added bonus, this method will pass your information along to the intended target, allowing them to follow up with you directly.
What about issues that inspire you to action that PIJAC doesn’t address with a PetAlert? Before you do anything else, drop us a line and let us know about them. You are more than just a voice for the pet industry, you’re also our eyes and ears – especially at the local level, where tracking is most difficult.
Then consider contacting your officials and their staff via email whenever possible. There’s still a lot to be said for an old fashioned, handwritten letter or a face-to-face meeting, but most offices prefer electronic communications these days. They are easier to catalog, providing a real-time opinion poll that can impact an uncertain legislator’s decision. Many offices also keep track of the issues that motivate individuals to reach out, allowing them to target their outreach to you and (if they’re really good) proactively contact you when considering future issues you are likely to care about.
And that can work to your advantage, as well. Think about the people you interact with professionally on a regular basis. Who is more likely to get what they want from you: the person who only reaches out with complaints or when they need something, or the person who takes the time to say “Good job!” or “Thanks!” from time to time? By supporting positive legislation when the opportunities arise, you can help your elected officials understand the kind of engaged, active constituent you are. Then, when you object to harmful legislation, your concerns will be more likely to be taken seriously.
From December 4th through December 6th, state lawmakers from across the country gathered in Washington for the American Legislative Exchange Council’s State & Nation Policy Summit. As part of our ongoing effort to expand PIJAC’s reach and cultivate allies in the public and private sector, our government affairs team was there.
The State & Nation Policy Summit is an annual event for free market supportive legislators from both parties and representatives from corporations, trade associations, and policy organizations. It is a forum for the discussion of state-level policy in which best practices and model resolutions are shared. As non-member guests, we were able to ob-serve workshops and task force meetings, though we were unable to participate in them directly. Despite this, the summit proved a great place for the pet industry to share our priorities, both positive and negative, with a receptive audience.
Over the course of the three-day conference, PIJAC was able to spend time informing legislators about a number of current and impending threats to the pet industry, including task forces and bills in Connecticut, Florida, and Massachusetts. We also discussed positive efforts underway in New Hampshire and Indiana. And we strengthened relationships with lawmakers in key states including Kansas, Missouri and Iowa.
PIJAC’s presence at the SNPS also provided us an opportunity to connect with government affairs representatives from a range of industries, including pharmaceuticals, manufacturing and retail. Subsequent conversations with these contacts suggest multiple areas of shared interest that will allow PIJAC and the pet industry to add our voices to larger coalition efforts and further raise our profile in the eyes of lawmakers.
Congratulations to the following individuals who recently completed their PIJAC Avian Care Specialist exams!