NARBC Show in Texas Proves Timely Boon for Industry
This past weekend, the Pet Industry Joint Advisory Council (PIJAC) attended the North American Reptile Breeders Conference (NARBC) in Arlington, Texas. Speaker topics addressed the health and nutrition of reptiles and amphibians. In addition, the traditional fundraising auction for the United States Association of Reptile Keepers raised $12,400 for the relief of victims of Hurricane Harvey, in part thanks to a generous grant from Pappadeaux Restaurant.
I was excited to continue improving PIJAC’s relationships with reptile hobbyists and the reptile-owning public. I am especially grateful to NARBC organizer Bob Ashley for allowing PIJAC the chance to continue to engage this important part of the responsible animal trade.
In Arlington, it was important that we showed exhibitors that PIJAC is dedicated to their interests. With more than 9 million reptile pets in America, reptiles are clearly beloved by many, yet proposals to restrict sales and ownership have flared in Massachusetts, Nevada, Virginia and elsewhere. Thankfully, the industry has largely fended off these threats, but they are always on PIJAC’s radar, and we know that only by working with the herp sector can we do our part in protecting the rights to responsibly sell and own reptiles.
The responsible ownership of herps recently caught some attention after the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) tracked 37 cases of salmonella in six states linked to contact with pet turtles between March and August. As part of our Memorandum of Understanding with the CDC, PIJAC sent a Health Alert to the industry and published a blog post about the CDC’s findings.
With this in mind, it was one of PIJAC’s goals to ensure that as many attendees as possible received our Healthy Herp Handling poster, developed to prevent salmonella infections using a cartoon motif for particular emphasis on young children. We distributed approximately three dozen, and we heard from kids and parents alike that they plan to use the posters at home and/or at school for the educational benefit of their communities.
The CDC’s findings present a two-fold challenge to the industry that was important to PIJAC at the Arlington NARBC. First, it is absolutely important for the public to understand that they should only buy herps from reputable dealers; likewise, it is important for the herp industry to provide information to customers on disease prevention and proper handling.
The second challenge is that of correcting misunderstandings before they are used against the industry. Media portrayals such as one that declared turtles to be dangerous pets provide ample ammunition for activists opposed to pet ownership. Yet the vast majority of the 1.73 million pet turtles nationwide—according to the 2015-2016 National Pet Owners Survey conducted by the American Pet Products Association—are enjoyed without incident or illness.
We at PIJAC are acutely aware that these inaccurate portrayals can easily be weaponized against the industry, which is why we sent our Health Alert and the blog post to dozens of reporters. Lawmakers and the public must know the truth, not misleading spin, about turtles and other pet herps.
All in all, the NARBC in Arlington deserves all the praise it is getting from attendees and exhibitors alike. PIJAC looks forward to connecting with both hobbyists and businesses in Illinois in less than two weeks!
NARBC will head to the Tinley Park Holiday Inn Select and Convention Center in Tinley Park, Ill., Oct. 7 to 8.
Josh Jones is director of legislative and regulatory engagement for PIJAC.
PIJAC's Helathy Hearp Handling Poster