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July 6, 2016

Each industry I have ever been involved with wrestles with a topic or two in which there is some merit on each side of the argument. Some are germane only to that industry, but have global tentacles. The Glass-Steagall Act of 1932 separating investment and commercial banks comes to mind. It was repealed in 1999, but many people believe our most recent global financial crises may have been avoided, or at least may have been less severe, if the original law had been in place. Others contend that we might still be in a recession if banks were unable to offer both services.

Some arguments transcend industries, like the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) of 1994. NAFTA is an agreement signed by Canada, Mexico and the United States, creating a trilateral trade bloc in North America. The agreement was to lower import/export tariffs between the three parties and proposed creating hundreds of thousands of American jobs. Arguments for either side need no explanation in this space. However, it is still a political football being tossed around in the current American election cycle.

The pet industry is no different. Spend any time at national and regional industry gatherings and you’ll hear several arguments regarding live animal sales, importation of exotic animals, Minimum Advertised Price/Minimum Retail Price (MAP/MRP) and other topics. Being a neophyte in the business, I have already heard both sides of these arguments, and I am certain there are more for me to learn. What I find most appealing about the pet industry is the passion for what’s best for our pets, no matter on what side of the issue you stand. Sometimes passion can overtake common sense and that’s where some of us need to take a step back.

I recall an incident that occurred in our exhibit space at a major trade show earlier this year. An advocate for responsible breeding of cats and dogs confronted a shelter representative in our booth and loudly voiced his “pro-choice” opinion. His argument was that no-kill shelters should also advocate for responsible breeding and selling of pets. The shelter representative maintained that, as there are so many homeless pets, live animal sales should be prohibited.

Voices were raised to a level that was heard over the buzz of the show floor. Attendees and nearby exhibitors alike started to circle the wagons. Some would lob a comment or two and then scurry, realizing the moment was getting too heated. Some stuck around like motorists at an accident scene and neither advocate would yield nor were respectful of the other’s opinion. It caught my attention as I entered my booth and had to intervene for fear of escalation.

The bottom line is this: argue, but be respectful. Little is accomplished by raising voices and making the issue personal. Conflicts raise emotions, and if one cannot manage them in times of stress, conflicts will never be resolved peacefully.

All the Best,

Allen Basis

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