ORLANDO, Fla. — The Pet Industry Joint Advisory Council (PIJAC) on March 19, during Global Pet Expo, recognized six pet care professionals for their accomplishments in the industry. Among those honored were Robert L. Vetere, retiring president and CEO of the American Pet Products Association (APPA), Nestlé Purina, and Rob, John and Lucia Mellace, owners of Pet Express, a Massachusetts retailer offering adoption services, pet care services and baked dog treats.

“We at PIJAC celebrate the achievements of the outstanding individuals and organizations we recognized with 2019 PIJAC annual awards,” said Laura “Peach” Reid, board chair for PIJAC and president of Fish Mart, Inc. “Their tireless dedication has made a significant impact to the preservation and advancement of issues important to the responsible pet care community.”

Vetere received the Nancy G. Knutson Lifetime Achievement Award for his many achievements in the pet industry over the years, including initiatives to unify the pet care community and contributions to the creation of the Human Animal Bond Research Institute and Pet Leadership Council.

Nestlé Purina received the Excellence in Communications Award for its successful efforts to educate lawmakers, employees and consumers about the Pet and Women Safety (PAWS) Act, which became law in December 2018. The law is part of the farm bill and provides funding to female victims of domestic violence and their pets. According to PIJAC, Purina’s efforts were instrumental to passing the act as law.

The Mellace siblings won the Ambassador of the Year Award for their successful growth story and involvement with local, state and federal lawmakers involved in the pet care space. The Mellaces come from a first-generation immigrant family who settled in Boston and grew their business, Pet Express, from one store to five within the Boston area.

PIJAC’s Chair Award of Excellence was presented to Sandy Moore of Segrest Farms for her work in the aquatics community, Herp Symposium Steering Committee received the Pet Care Community Leaders of the Year Award for the successful execution of an impactful industry event bringing awareness to reptile and amphibian conservation and other issues, and Alika Garcia was awarded Pet Advocate of the Year for engaging with lawmakers to sustain the aquarium fishing trade in Hawaii.

“The achievements of the 2019 PIJAC Award recipients are an inspiration to the entire pet care community,” added PIJAC President and CEO Mike Bober. “From educating the public to cultivating strategic relationships with lawmakers, their work serves as an example to us all that every effort to promote responsible pet ownership and animal well-being matters, no matter how large or small.”

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