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Blog: Better with Pets Summit

Tom Mazorlig//October 21, 2014//

Blog: Better with Pets Summit

Tom Mazorlig //October 21, 2014//

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I was fortunate enough to spend a day being inspired and educated by thought leaders of the pet world at the second annual Purina Better With Pets Summit. The event was held in New York City on Oct. 14, 2014. The summit was informative, heart-warming and fun.

Opening remarks were made by Steve Crimmins, chief marketing officer at Purina. Stressing the theme of the summit and the idea of a community of pet lovers he said, “Just by walking in this door, we became friends. We all believe life is better with pets.”

The event was once again hosted by multiple Emmy and Peabody award-winning journalist John Hockenberry. He warmed up the crowd with some jokes about the neighborhood and a heartfelt poem about a dog’s enduring love for her owner.

The speaker lineup was varied and impressive. On the lighter side, there was pet-themed rap, complete with sampled animal sounds, from B.E.A.T. NYC,  pet poetry by Mayhem Poets and an amusing story about a smart cat by Moth StorySLAM champion Adam Wade.

On the more serious side, Dr. Ed Creagan talked about his experiences with pets in human end-of-life care and Rita Garza discussed her work with People and Animals Living Safely (PALS), a program that places victims of domestic violence in housing that allows them to keep their pets.

Many of the presenters talked about the ways they had improved the lives of companion animals, often through technology. This provided a glimpse of the possibilities that might exist at the intersection of pets and technology.

There was the impressive 14-year-old entrepreneur Brooke Martin, who created the iC Pooch to remotely interact with her anxious dog when she’s out of the house.

Dr. Stan Marks told the amazing survival story of Bean, the first dog to receive a laryngectomy and how the the doctors who performed the surgery are applying what they learned to human medicine.

Musicians Lisa Spector and Joshua Leeds discussed their work at solving stress and separation anxiety in dogs and cats with music. Animal shelters that play their music over the loudspeakers have experienced reduced barking and seen potential adopters linger longer with the dogs, resulting in higher adoption rates. Check out their program here.

However, it was little Turbo Roo who stole show. The two-legged chihuahua came to the attention of aerospace engineer Mark Deadrick.  Deadrick used his talent with a 3D printer to create a two-wheeled prosthetic for Turbo, enabling him to move around with relative ease. Turbo enjoyed a friendly chase with emcee John Hockenberry in his wheelchair.

There were many other speakers, all of whom demonstrated the theme that life is better with pets. This idea is why most of  us got into this industry in the first place. We have experienced firsthand that life really is better with pets. Sometimes, it’s important to remember that. The connection between people and their pets is what drives the entire pet industry. I left the event with my head swirling with ideas and feeling renewed enthusiasm to be working in this field.

Videos of the talks will be available on the Purina website starting next week. I hope you enjoy them as much as I did.