In-Person Pet Care Community D.C. Fly-In a Huge Success
On September 21 nearly 100 pet professionals came to Capitol Hill for the Pet Advocacy Network’s Fifth Annual Pet Care Community D.C. Fly-In—about 30% more than last year’s virtual fly-in participants. Participants traveled from throughout the country to advocate for the value of pets to Members of Congress and their staff. The day began with a breakfast briefing and advocacy training session at a hotel near Capitol Hill, where attendees learned how to share important pet care community priorities with elected officials and their staff.
Groups then dispersed across Capitol Hill for a day full of meetings and armed with talking points and support materials to help them effectively engage with lawmakers. Over 100 meetings took place, and despite tighter security procedures that limited the number of appointments that could be booked, most groups were able to hold three to five visits with Congressional offices.
The talking points helped participants convey the key messages in a short amount of time. The majority of meetings were limited to 20 to 30 minutes, as congressional offices have to make time to meet with many different groups lobbying for their priorities every day.
Throughout the day participants shared information with elected officials and staffers about the positive impact of pets. Topics discussed included the Healthy Dog Importation Act, which sets health requirements for dogs coming into the U.S., the National Service Animals Memorial Act, which aims to establish a monument in D.C. honoring service animals and their handlers, the Pets Belong with Families Act, which seeks to remove barriers to pet ownership in public housing, and the proposed amendments to the Lacey Act which would create a presumptive prohibition on the importation of non-native species.
At lunch, those fly-in participants that did not have meetings headed back to the hotel for a buffet lunch and an opportunity to share experiences from the morning with their peers. Mark Cushing of the Animal Policy Group gave a briefing, where he discussed some of the findings of the 2021 Economic Impact Study he and his group conducted. This was a particularly important source of research-backed data that we used to support our message of the power of pets while chatting with congressional officials in the meetings. Explore the findings here.
The meetings concluded around 5 p.m., at which point all attendees and member offices were invited to the reception for Pet Night on Capitol Hill, Congress’s favorite pet event of the year. This was the first in-person occurrence of this event since 2019, so it was particularly special.
There were numerous “celebrity” animals present, including the 2022 Westminster Kennel Club Best in Show winner Trumpet, the service dog-in-training for the Washington Capitals Biscuit, and Pet Partners therapy animals with their handlers. In addition, retiring Congressman Kurt Schrader (D-OR), the sole veterinarian in Congress, was recognized for his years of advocacy on behalf of the pet care community. We would like to thank Dr. Schrader again for everything he has done for our community, and we wish him the best in the next chapter of his life.
We hope you will join us again next year to continue to build and strengthen relationships with Capitol Hill lawmakers. Watch for a 2023 date announcement in early summer.
As always, our staff here at Pet Advocacy Network can help you with lawmaker outreach in your local community year-round, please reach out anytime. Thank you for all you do for pets.