WASHINGTON — Pet Week on Capitol Hill reconvened this past week for its annual mini-convention, during which companion animal industry members met with and encouraged US elected officials to support legislation that promotes the health and wellbeing of pets and their owners.

This year’s event was converted to a virtual format due to COVID-19 implications and, accordingly, focused primarily on pandemic impacts to the companion animal industry and market. The three-day event kicked off Tuesday, Sept. 8, and concluded with a virtual reception, Pet Night on Capitol Hill, on Thursday, Sept. 10.

“Pets have become even more important during the coronavirus pandemic,” said Steven Feldman, executive director of the Human Animal Bond Research Institute (HABRI), key sponsor of the event. “Pet Week on Capitol Hill will feature conversations with Members of Congress and pet care leaders about the importance of pet ownership in America.”

The event began Tuesday with a conversation on “The Importance of Pets in America,” featuring Mark Cushing Author of Pet Nation, and Feldman.

On Wednesday, Sept. 9, Kurt Venator, DVM, Ph.D., chief veterinary officer for Nestlé Purina PetCare, Nicole Forsyth, president and chief executive officer of RedRover, and Nicole Lanahan, executive director of Got Your Six Support Dogs, discussed “important initiatives” for keeping pets and pet owners healthy and happy.

Later Wednesday, Rep. Kurt Shrader of Oregon’s fifth district hosted a discussion on the role of veterinary medicine in preventing future pandemics.

Pet Week on Capitol Hill 2020 ended with three key discussions on Thursday, including Steve King, president and chief executive officer of the American Pet Products Association, along with Dave Bolen, industry specialist at Graham Partners, discussing pet ownership trends and market economics post-COVID-19.

This was followed by a presentation by Susanne Kogut, president of the Petco Foundation, speaking on COVID-19 impact on pet fostering and adoption. The event closed with the Cutest Pets on Capitol Hill competition, honoring “Congressional companions from both sides of the aisle,” which was presented by the Animal Health Institute (AHI).

“We plan to be back with Pet Night on Capitol Hill next year to celebrate in person with the pets that we love so much,” added Feldman. “Until then, we hope that virtual Pet Week will be helpful, and that all of the participating pet care organizations will serve as valuable resources for our friends on Capitol Hill.”

All programs from Pet Week on Capitol Hill 2020 are available on-demand at www.petnight.com.

Read more about pet food and treat industry events.