AS THE OWNER or manager of an independent pet business, you plan for product and service trends as well as for economic shifts, all to achieve profitability. But do you also protect your business’s future by making sure elected officials consider your priorities when deciding on laws and regulations?
If you don’t, you should. Because when a bill or regulation that may impact your business gets proposed, if you have a relationship with local lawmakers, they will be more likely to consider you as both a constituent and an expert before making a decision on how to vote.
City councillors, mayors, county commissioners, members of Congress and other officials can all have a significant impact on pets, pet owners and pet businesses. They can enact or defeat laws and regulations that affect factors such as your cost for and access to products and services, business overhead, taxes that could force you to raise prices, the ability of families in your community to acquire or own different breeds and types of pets, and even your ability to be open during situations such as the pandemic.
The good news is that you have an effective tool for taking part in this process: the ability to invite elected officials to visit your business. These visits are an opportunity to establish or strengthen relationships, demonstrate your commitment to the local community and show your investment in promoting responsible pet ownership. Use these four tips to get a “yes” to your invitation and to make the most of visits.
1. Reach Out the Right Way
You can find names and contact information for the elected officials who represent you and the location of your business on the official websites of your town, county and state, or for the federal level at house.gov and senate.gov. It’s best to call first, but then also to follow up with an email.
When inviting a member of Congress, the best way to get a visit is to reach out to their district office, as they usually handle scheduling when the Congressperson is in the state. When Congress is in session, members have to be in Washington, D.C., so the earlier you make your request and the more date options you provide, the better your chances are of booking time with them.
For state lawmakers, the earlier you reach out the better. Some representatives serve part-time, so they often balance 9-to-5 jobs with official duties. Their calendars fill up fast.
2. Do Your Homework
The Pet Advocacy Network has data on the pet sector’s economic impact on the national level and for every state. Download handouts for free at
3. Make the Most of the Visit
Give the lawmaker information about your business, how long you’ve been open, how many local residents you employ and other data demonstrating the positive economic impact you make in their jurisdiction. Talk to them about the needs of your business and your customers. Also share any resources you provide to educate customers on being responsible pet owners, and other ways you support the community.
4. Let Us Help
As the legislative and regulatory voice of the responsible pet care community, the Pet Advocacy Network has staff advocates and resources to help you connect with your lawmakers and stay on top of proposed legislation that could affect you. If you’re not a member, please consider joining today at petadvocacy.org/membership, or contact us at info@petadvo
cacy.org or (202) 452-1525.
The advance legwork you do to build relationships and goodwill will go a long way toward having a positive effect on policies and regulations impacting pet businesses — you won’t regret it.