ALEXANDRIA, VA — The Pet Industry Joint Advisory Council (PIJAC) has spearheaded the effort to urge United States government officials to refrain from closing pet supply stores amid other store closures during the COVID-19 crisis.

PIJAC authored an open letter to federal, state and local government officials in the interest of the pet retail industry.

With 67% of American households owning at least one pet, according to data from the American Pet Products Association’s (APPA) 2019-2020 National Pet Owner Survey, PIJAC wrote in the letter that it is “vital that businesses that provide products or service for the care of pets… are included among the critical infrastructure that is allowed to remain open throughout the crisis.”

The association also pointed to veterinary care and other necessary services offered through many pet supply franchises, the sale of pet food, and the continued caretaking of animals sold at pet retail locations as reasons for them to remain open for operation and business.

Mike Bober, president and chief executive officer of PIJAC, signed the letter along with Dana Brooks, president and CEO of Pet Food Institute, Steve King, CEO of APPA, Vic Mason, president of the World Pet Association, Celeste Powers, president of the Pet Industry Distributors Association, and Al Puntillo, steering committee chair of the Independent & Neighborhood Pet Retail Association.

Pet retail executives from Petco, PetSmart, Pet Supplies Plus, Petland, Pet Food Express and several other national and local chains also signed the open letter to US government officials, which was distributed on March 13.

Gwyn Donahue, director of communications and public affairs for PIJAC, said Puerto Rico, Pennsylvania and six counties in the California Bay Area have deemed animal food and veterinary services as being essential over the course of this week, exempting them from store closures in those areas.

Pet retailers are invited to continue adding their names to the letter using a form available on the PIJAC website.

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