Pet Letter Spring 2015

Membership In PIJAC As Vital Now As EverLeaders of Pet Trade Recognized at 2015 Top2Top
Expert Input: PIJAC's Subcommittees Tap Member Expertise4 Ways to Build Relationships with
Local Lawmakers
Current 2015-2016 Legislative Session SnapshotFirstLook Readership Numbers Continue to Shine in 2015
Education News

May 2015 | Volume 36, Number 2

Membership In PIJAC As Vital Now As Ever
By Ed Sayres, PIJAC President & CEO


During our Top2Top leadership conference last month, the PIJAC Board of Directors voted unanimously to enter into a new partnership with the Pet Leadership Council (PLC) to provide government affairs services for the entire pet trade. We believe that this partnership will help ensure the availability and health of the companion animals which are the heart of all of our businesses. This new partnership will also help protect consumer choice and be more proactive in promoting the industry and its positive programs, while advocating for the health and well-being of companion animals.

I am excited to talk to you about this new transition and the incredible potential that it holds for the future of the responsible pet trade. This partnership allows us to work with the PLC, while PIJAC remains free and independent as an organization. All of our valuable experience and expertise —and our specific commitments to the aquatics, avian, small mammal, reptile, cat and dog sectors — will become even more significant to our work at PIJAC as we couple it with the PLC’s broader communications efforts on behalf of the pet trade.

You—our members—still remain the most vital component to our work here at PIJAC. Without you, we cease to care for animals; we cease to have the breadth of expertise and knowledge that only you possess; without you, we cease to be PIJAC.

This partnership means change, yes—but it also means that everything we have all come to love about PIJAC will continue. Membership in PIJAC is as valuable – and as vital – as ever. In fact, being a dues paying member of PIJAC has never been so valuable. Not only does your membership support the pet trade and continue to protect the availability of pets, it demonstrates your role in a united pet industry.

As we move forward with this transition, I know there will be unforeseen challenges that arise. I promise to be transparent and continue this dialogue with you—our members—as we continue this journey together. The PIJAC-PLC partnership aims to tell the pet industry’s story with one amplified voice, but it won’t be able to do so without your help.

As we launch this partnership in the next few months, your increased participation is vital. The PIJAC-PLC partnership will focus on strengthening and consolidating key objectives and initiatives to keep the pet industry strong and vibrant, but we need your continued support to achieve these objectives.

I look forward to updating all of you on our progress in the coming months. Please feel free to reach out if you have any comments, questions or concerns.

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Leaders of the Pet Trade Recognized at 2015 Top2Top
By: Rebekah Milford


Last month the world of companion animal’s most influential leaders assembled  together to participate in the Pet Industry Joint Advisory Council’s (PIJAC) fourth annual Top2Top Conference set in the picturesque Omni la Costa Resort & Spa in Carlsbad, California. Attendees enjoyed various networking opportunities and a star line-up of compelling speakers who covered a wide spectrum of issues facing pet businesses, distributors and manufacturers alike, while focusing on the conference theme of what it means to “Lead the Pack.” 

During the Top2Top Conference, PIJAC recognized leaders, innovators and allies in the pet world through an annual award ceremony. PIJAC would like to formally congratulate the following recipients who won 2015 awards at PIJAC’s 2015 Top2Top annual award ceremony:

  • 2015 PIJAC Ambassadors of the Year - Mike Isaac & Rob Cook
  • 2015 Chairman’s Award of Excellence -Laura “Peach” Reid
  • 2015 Pet Industry Leader of the Year - Phil Goss
  • 2015 Lifetime Achievement Award - Duane Ekedhal
  • 2015 Pet Advocate of the Year - Julian Sprung
  • 2015 Program Innovator of the Year - Blaine Phillips
  • 2015 Presidential Award of Excellence - Patty Backer
  • PIJAC Visionary Award - Andrew Hunte

PIJAC would like to thank all of our award recipients for being exemplary leaders in the pet industry and all Top2Top attendees who demonstrated leadership and initiative through participating in the annual Top2Top Conference. Additionally, PIJAC would like to thank all of our speakers, sponsors, and attendees who joined us for this important dialogue about what it means to “Lead the Pack.”

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Expert Input: PIJAC’s Subcommittees Tap Member Expertise
By: Mike Bober

Oftentimes when delivering testimony, PJIAC staff point out that those of us in the pet field don’t just care ABOUT animals, we care FOR animals.  That firsthand knowledge makes our members some of the best sources available for information on best practices and standard operating procedures as well as the likely impact of proposed legislation and regulations on our trade. And it’s the reason that the PIJAC Legislative Committee and staff look to committees made up of PIJAC members and other experts to provide insight and feedback before we weigh in with testimony, sit down with legislators or take legal action.

In some cases, these committees are organized around a specific pet sector.  The best and most established example of this is our Aquatics Committtee.  Made up of PIJAC members who collect, breed, and sell species and products to the ornamental aquarium community – both fresh and saltwater – as well as hobbyists and other supporters, they monitor and address regulations and laws that affect the trade. The experience and knowledge of the individuals who make up the committee gives them the best understanding of the impact of aquatics proposals at the federal level, such as various proposals to list additional marine species under the Endangered Species Act, all the way to the local level, as in Hawaii when facing efforts to impose unrealistic, prohibitive transportation standards.

Another example is our Herp Committee, reactivated over the past year as a result of conversations that took place at last year’s Top2Top conference.  Thanks to the dedicated efforts of PIJAC members in the reptile trade, we have been able to review and respond to numerous efforts to classify species common to the trade as “dangerous wild animals” with scientific data and clear arguments for reasonable standards instead of blanket prohibitions.  We have also addressed federal efforts to restrict trade in additional species under the Lacey Act. They are currently in the process of finalizing recommendations on several sets of best practices that will be helpful to breeders, retailers and hobbyists.

Then there is our Zoonoses Committee, whose members work as liaisons between the responsible pet trade, the Centers for Disease Control, the National Institutes for Health and others to help keep the public informed about diseases that can be communicated between pets and people.  They recently completed a revision of our “Healthy Herp Handling” poster which can be used in classrooms and at home, and they have approved a number of care sheets regarding disease prevention in pet stores.  The Zoonoses Committee also produces health alerts in the rare cases when outbreaks of zoonotic diseases do occur.

In all three cases, PIJAC staff and Board Members rely on the input and expertise of committee members to guide our actions and to ensure that PIJAC remains a trusted authority among regulators, legislators and the general public. In the near future, we expect to launch several additional committees addressing issues facing the avian community and others.  If you are interested in serving as a member of one or more of these committees, please contact Mike Bober for additional information.

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4 Ways to Build Relationships with Local Lawmakers
By: Bob Likins

www.pijac.orgMost people have an extremely low opinion of telemarketers.  Someone you’ve never met calls you (or worse yet shows up at your door) asking for your time or money and expects you to empathize with them.  Elected officials find themselves in this situation constantly.  People they know nothing about show up in their office asking them to support or oppose legislation based on the information they present during a single meeting, then disappear when the issue is settled.  These same legislators have undoubtedly been visited by the folks on the opposite side of the issue as well, leaving them having to decide whose “facts” they believe.  This results in a 50/50 chance of success at best and, in the case of the animal rights groups, they are extremely effective at making an emotional argument that may well win the day.

The solution to this dilemma is simple; don’t be a stranger showing up at their office.  If you have built a relationship with your legislators before an issue that threatens you arises you have a much better chance of being successful.  Mike Isaac of Petland Naperville has seen very positive returns as a result of his engagement with his local lawmakers.  Despite the fact that he never dreamed that owning a pet store would involve meeting with politicians, Mike has mastered the skill.  His store enjoys a very favorable reputation amongst local lawmakers despite the fact that neither Chicago, nor Illinois generally, are particularly friendly places for the pet trade.  In fact, he has even been active in forming and engaging on behalf of statewide retail groups in Illinois and New Jersey that have been effective in curbing anti store regulations.

There are a few simple things that you can do to build a relationship with your local lawmakers:

  1. Pay them a visit – Introduce yourself and your business before there’s a crisis.  Mike Bober recently published an excellent article on preparing for a meeting with government officials and the PIJAC staff is always ready to help you prepare for a meeting.
  2. Invite them to your facility – Let them know that there are a lot of misperceptions about how the pet trade operates, and invite them to get a firsthand look at reality.  Offer to let them bring a subject matter expert such as the local government veterinarian or animal control director.  Whether they take you up on having an expert attend or not, the invitation demonstrates that you are being transparent and helpful.
  3. Contribute to a campaign – a small investment of time or money can pay huge dividends when threatening legislation arises.  Don’t just mail in a check.  During the campaign season candidates are extremely attuned to who is helping them.  Attend a fund raiser and introduce yourself.  These cost very little at the local or state level and can ingratiate you with the candidate.  Ask them for their positions and offer to meet with them later to educate them on the issues.  Don’t try to convince them at a fundraising function where they are focused on working the room.
  4. Donate your (or your staff’s) time – Campaigns always need manpower.  Whether it’s answering phones or handing out flyers more hands are always needed.  In Oceanside California a retail sales ban was narrowly defeated.  During the next election an animal rights organization volunteered heavily for the challenger to one of the “no” votes.  When the challenger won he thanked the group and expressed his support for their cause in his first interview.  There is now a retail sales ban in Oceanside.  If you can’t afford the time to volunteer then offer to take on some administrative duties for the campaign such as record keeping.  Candidates have long memories for those who helped them into office.

However you decide you are most comfortable with engaging your local government, find a way to do it.  When an animal rights activist approaches them to support anti-pet legislation they should picture you and your store as the face of the industry.  Get out there, make the connections, and always remember that PIJAC is here to support your efforts.

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Current 2015-2016 Legislative Session Snapshot
By: Jeff Plummer

As the end of the 1st quarter of the 2015-16 legislative session approaches, PIJAC has seen a 10% increase in the total number of pet industry-related bills introduced as compared to the 1st quarter of the 2013-14 session.  It might also be noted that there has been a 19% increase in the number of pet-industry related local ordinances introduced this quarter.

Below is a topical breakdown of the 870+ pet industry-related bills, ordinances and regulations PIJAC is currently tracking:

Pet Breeder/Kennel (Issue tracked in 35 States + Federal) - Facility inspection requirements, standards of care, recordkeeping, licensing, transporting/importing, and zoning.

Pet Dealer/Groomer (Issue tracked in 36 States + Federal) - Inspection requirements, standards of care, licensing, recordkeeping, breeder sourcing, import restrictions, and consumer protection.

Retail Pet Sale Bans (Issue tracked in 6 States) - State legislation and local ordinances banning the retail sale of pets (mostly dogs, cats and rabbits).

Fees/Surcharges/Special Taxes (Issue tracked in 26 States) - Legislation, regulations and ordinances providing for licensing/registration fees and for special taxes imposed on pet breeders, pet dealers, pet food manufacturers, groomers and pet consumers.

Animal Abuse Registries (Issue tracked in 16 States) - Legislation and local ordinances establishing online registries of convicted animal abusers.  Some bills mandate pet dealers/animal shelters to check registry prior to sale or adoption and provide for penalties.

Humane Society/ASPCA/Animal Rights  (Issue tracked in 17 States) - Involvement and inclusion of humane groups in animal control, animal facility inspections, search and seizure and education curriculum.

Breed-Specific   (Issue tracked in 13 States) - State and local legislation banning ownership of certain dog breeds and providing for dangerous dog definitions, licensing, penalties and liability.

Reptile/Amphibian (Issue tracked in 18 States + Federal) - Legislation providing for regulation, permits, standards of care, and caging requirements for reptiles and amphibians.

Exotic/Dangerous Wild Animals (Issue tracked in 16 States) - Legislation and regulations providing for the regulation, permitting or ban on ownership or sale of certain exotic or dangerous wild animals.

Endangered Species (Issue tracked in 10 States + Federal) - Legislation providing for the listing of and penalties for possession of non-game endangered wild animals.

Invasive Species (Issue tracked in 8 States + Federal) - Legislation regulating the possession and trade of invasive animals and plants, some of which could be in the pet trade.

Aquatics/Marine Life (Issue tracked in 12 States + Federal) - Legislation regulating the possession and trade of aquarium fish, genetically-engineered fish, and corals.

2015-16 Session Calendar Update
States currently in session:27
States adjourned:23
States adjourning in next 30 days:13

Visit the Government Affairs page of the PIJAC website to stay informed during the 2015-16 legislative session.

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FirstLook Readership Numbers Continue to Shine in 2015
By: Josh Jones

www.pijac.orgWith open rates at, or above 30% for December 2014 through April 2015 FirstLook has continued to improve its monthly average open rate since the first issue was released on Tuesday, September 2, 2014.

But what about the click-through rate; are members actually selecting links to articles and reading?

Yes. FirstLook readership numbers continued to shine in 2015 as the daily executive news brief for PIJAC members averaged more than 500-articles-read each week since January 1, 2015.

And for the past 180 days, articles in the Pet News category have been the most popular with FirstLook readers. The category--which focuses on pet ownership, pet related news, and pet interest articles of note--is responsible for nearly 2,000 articles read since the beginning of November, 2014.

The Business News category is next in this popularity contest with more than 1,800 articles read during the same period. Business News covers market trends, new products, new pet businesses, pet business activities, and includes updates on business activity within the pet industry. 

Following closely behind Business News, the Legislative/Regulatory News section garnered an impressive 1,700+ articles read during the past 180 days while covering news and updates about existing or potential local, state, and national legislation and regulation which may impact the trade and pet enthusiasts.

Many variables impact email open rates and click-through rates. However, these metrics demonstrate that FirstLook is repeatedly and effectively engaging its audience with meaningful content. As a result, more PIJAC members are better informed about what is being said within, and about, the pet industry.

To learn more about PIJAC FirstLook or to place an ad, please contact Josh Jones josh@pijac.org or 202/452-1424 ext. 1040 for more information.

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Education News
by: Nancy Knutson

www.pijac.orgCongratulations to the following individuals who recently received their PIJAC Avian Specialist (CAS) credentials!


Lisa Alfonso, Roselle, IL

Nancy J. Atkinson, Martinez, CA

Alison V. Benson-Kopfer, Lake in the Hills, IL

R. Barry Greenwald, The Villages, FL

Susan A. Maurer, Valley Stream, NY

Elisia Sierakowski, Mission Viejo, CA


Josh Sierakowski, Mission Viejo, CA

Mark Sierakowski, Mission Viejo, CA

Valerie Sierakowski, Mission Viejo, CA

Ryan Taylor, Miami, FL

Susan M. Ungrey, Grand Rapids, MI

Lara Whitman, De Pè​re, WI

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