Better with Pets Summit 2016

This October I was invited to the Better with Pets Summit, an annual event presented by Purina in Brooklyn, NY! It was my first time attending the Summit and what an experience it was! I was extremely excited and thankful for the opportunity. The Summit brings together experts and leaders in the pet community to explore the future of pet care and experience how passion and innovation through nutrition will help improve the health and wellbeing of pets. Because after all (I think we’d all agree if you’re reading this)…life is better with pets. Especially pit bulls ;). Below I’ve recapped the day and things I took away.

The day kicked off a welcome keynote from Nina Leigh Kreuger, President of Purina PetCare. Side note: I also had the pleasure of speaking briefly with Nina the night prior to the Summit and loved how down to earth she was (and she has a son going to school in Colorado. Whoop!). The passion Nina has for her career was great to hear and she led us into the first panel: Demystifying Quality and Safety.

Panel 1: Demystifying Quality & Safety

Not an easy panel and it definitely brought up the tougher discussions about taking a closer look at the quality and safety standards of pet food. There is a huge farm to table movement, not only in our own food, but our pet food. People are demanding more trust from brands. I’m sure everyone remembers the huge pet food recall years back…we’ve come a long ways since then and as Shaun Kennedy mentioned, “There is very little difference between human food and pet food”. I remember even when I was young, our choices between dog food were minimal and at one point, our choices were either dog food or cat food. Things I learned:

  • The FDA is broken into various divisions and they have minimum requirements – to which Purina goes above and beyond
  • Almost all recalls do not pose a threat to health, but usually pertain to a labeling problems. Class 1 recalls are the only recalls which pose a threat to health.

Panel 2:  How a Passion for Pets Builds a Better World

A discussion about how connecting pets and people build stronger communities that will improve the health and well being of pets and people and ultimately shape a better world.

The panel opened with an amazing and touching story of Roben Harris who has a daughter, Selah, who has Spina Bifida and has extended hospital stays (over 27 surgeries before the age of 11) and always misses her dog, Chocolate Chip. In order for Selah to see Chocolate Chip in the hospital, Purina stepped in and helped create a room at the St. Louis Children’s Hospital where patients can visit with their pets during their hospital stays. And this is just one of the efforts valuing and recognizing the human and animal connection and bond.

Panel 3: The Science of Innovative Nutrition for Pets

This was probably my favorite panel which explored how nutrition has the power to help treat conditions to enable better lives for our pets. There is an obvious link between health and our food – not only for ourselves but for our pets. I am a huge advocate for feeding our pets right and feeding Lola and Rio clean, healthy foods and treats. As Steve Ettinger, Founder of Berkeley Veterinary Medical Group said, “Let food be thy medicine…we can treat disease with proper diet”. Such a powerful message, let’s keep our pets healthy from the beginning with a healthy diet and exercise – versus spoiling our pets. Another favorite quote from Steve, “Love does not mean to continually overfeed your pet”. Truth.

The day concluded with packing up gift boxes for the victims (and their pets) of domestic abuse at the Urban Resource Institute. I loved learning about the different programs and partnerships Purina has formed to prove their shared belief that people and pets are better together.

The Better With Pets Summit by Purina used the hashtag #LetsLiveBig – so let’s hear it from you how you are living big and how your life is better with pets!

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