The Best Defense
Will 2010 be a banner year for regulators who have their sights set on the grooming industry? From what I gleaned in a conversation with PIJAC officials, it just might be.
During a recent interview I conducted with the Pet Industry Joint Advisory Council’s (PIJAC) CEO and general counsel Marshall Meyers and president Pamela Stegeman, one segment of the pet industry that was cited as a particular area of concern for PIJAC going into next year is grooming.
This shouldn’t come as much of a surprise to groomers. This industry has drawn a growing amount of interest from lawmakers in recent years, largely spurred by a handful of well-publicized grooming tragedies and well-funded animal rights groups that are good at stirring the pot. The end result could range from more stringent regulations on the equipment used in the salon to tough state licensing requirements for groomers.
Of course, not all regulations are bad for groomers. Well-crafted legislation that takes a common sense approach to salon safety and keeps the needs of business owners in mind would likely be welcomed by many members of the industry. On the other hand, however, when lawmakers’ actions are based solely on the input of animal rights activists, without any consideration for the groomers who would bear the brunt of the regulation, the result can be dangerously onerous.
So, how can groomers defend their industry from unfair government involvement? First, and foremost, they should take every opportunity to educate lawmakers about the business of pet grooming. This requires keeping a vigilant eye on state and local government agencies to watch for groomer-related regulatory changes. Before such changes are officially added to the books the public is usually given an opportunity to comment. It is imperative that groomers take advantage of these public comment forums to tell their side of the story.
In addition to acting as grooming industry lobbyists, groomers should also seek out and support organizations that serve as industry advocates. PIJAC is one such organization. The preeminent voice for the pet industry when it comes to potentially dangerous government involvement, PIJAC has gotten a lot more involved with the grooming side of the industry over the past couple of years.
Unfortunately, PIJAC is woefully under-funded, especially compared to the animal rights groups that often spur misguided industry regulations. Some say that PIJAC’s total operating budget is less than what PETA spends on postage and office supplies. In addition, the organization has a long way to go in building up a network of groomer-activists to alert it about and respond to newly proposed legislation.
So groomers and PIJAC can help each other. By becoming a member of PIJAC, groomers can help the organization fight dangerous government action that could cripple the industry. PIJAC’s modest membership fee is just a drop in the bucket compared to what it may cost the grooming industry if it loses this important advocate.
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