Habitattitude Campaign Encourages Wise Pet Choices to Protect Environment
The Pet Industry Joint Advisory Council (PIJAC) has relaunched the campaign, which is designed to educate pet owners and protect the environment from invasive species.
On June 11, we at the Pet Industry Joint Advisory Council (PIJAC) announced the revitalization and relaunch of the Habitattitude education campaign during the Reduce Risks from Invasive Species Coalition’s agency fair on Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C. The innovative, non-regulatory campaign seeks to raise awareness of the risks posed by non-native species in the environment and have a positive impact on the public’s attitudes and practices.
When well-meaning owners are unable to care for their pet, they sometimes make the uninformed decision to release it outdoors—unaware of the impact their pet could have on native species and their habitats. The appetites and illnesses these pets carry from their former habitats to the wild generally don’t have a significant effect on the environment, but some can cause harm to native species.
Working to address this issue, we at PIJAC collaborated with co-sponsors the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) to update the campaign for current environmental concerns and modern audiences from its original format that was introduced in the mid-2000s.
The Habitattitude campaign—with its centerpiece website, habitattitude.net—is now geared toward educating potential owners before they select a pet, knowing that a thoughtfully made pet decision is more likely to be successful for the pet’s entire lifetime. The content is intended to be used as a springboard for beginners to get basic knowledge before they move on to more detailed information resources.
With input from pet care community professionals, government agencies and invasive species experts, among others, we incorporated new information on certain pets that have recently grown in popularity, such as reptiles and amphibians including Burmese pythons, iguanas and Argentine tegus. We also designed the website to be more visually engaging to appeal to younger generations.
With PIJAC’s commitment to promoting responsible pet ownership, we made sure habitattitude.net features guidance for prospective owners to consider when choosing a pet, with information on available species as well as on basic considerations for habitat, diet and health concerns. There are also sections on aquarium fish selection and care, and water gardening. Another new component focuses on animals and plants in classroom education, and caring for them outside the home environment, even when the school year is over.
We will be rebuilding and expanding the partner network—which, at its height, included all segments of the aquarium trade, federal agencies, over a dozen states and many trade associations—to help support this important effort to promote environmental stewardship to the next generation of pet owners.
Pet care community professionals like you are in the ideal position to provide appropriate guidance to potential pet owners on making wise choices on responsible pet ownership in combination with environmental stewardship. We invite you, government agencies and NGOs, academic institutions, and classroom teachers to join us as partners and show your customers that you are committed to promoting responsible pet care and a healthy environment.
You can sign up on habitattitude.net to become a partner, and download graphics, posters and other artwork that you can display in your store, at events, or on your website and social media. Please contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org or 202-452-1525, ext. 1040, if you have any questions.