MomStart is a proud Purina Partner. Travel consideration and sponsorship provided.
Last week, I flew to New York City to attend the Purina Better With Pets Summit at the Brooklyn Expo Center. This annual summit is hosted by Nestlé Purina as a way to explore how we can improve the well-being of pets and, in turn, make the world a better place for everyone.
I arrived in NYC on Monday afternoon, where I attended a welcome reception at The William Vale and got registered for the summit. The event began the following morning, starting off with a breakfast where I had the chance to catch up with my blogger friends and their adorable pets!
During the event, there were a number of hands-on booths to explore, with a variety of Purina products on hand along with Innovation Stations to explain some exciting pet food research findings.
As a souvenir, I was able to have a custom Purina dog tag engraved with Bob’s name and phone number, which he looks very handsome in!
The day’s sessions consisted of a series of keynotes and panels that brought together experts in fields such as veterinary medicine, science, and philanthropy. Through these sessions, I got a first-hand look at the future of petcare and how dedicated individuals are thinking outside of the box to improve our world.
1. Safety First: Quality in Pet Food is Paramount
When it comes to feeding our animals, safety is the #1 concern, so the first panel explored quality and safety guidelines in the pet food industry. Included in this discussion were John Bear, the Senior Vice President of Manufacturing at Purina whom I met during my trip to Purina Headquarters this summer, and Professor Shaun Kennedy of the University of Minnesota, who previously worked with the Department of Homeland Security as the Director of the National Center for Food Protection and Defense. Professor Kennedy has researched food safety, defense, and biosecurity, and gave insight into how federal and state pet food quality and safety standards are upheld. For Mr. Bear, pet food safety is a true passion, as I saw first-hand when he demonstrated Purina’s stringent quality checks when I first met him in St. Louis. Purina has 500 scientists and veterinarians on staff to assist with the process of developing and manufacturing their pet food, and every ingredient that goes into each bag has a purpose. It was fascinating to hear more about this process, and the panel also weighed in on the future of pet food manufacturing, noting that globalization will continue to change the pet food supply, as it is for humans as well – in the coming years, we can expect to see new ingredients and possibly new food sources. They also discussed the very futuristic concept of “Bio-meat” that could very well be a part of our future as we deal with environmental issues that could lead to a lack of meat and fish.
2. Passion For Pets Builds a Better World For Family & Community
Being passionate about the well-being of animals doesn’t just improve their lives; it also improves ours. I got to experience this myself during the event, where they had a “Puppy and Kitty Therapy Booth” on hand! Petting a sweet kitty helped distract me from feeling sick, thanks to an impacted wisdom tooth that showed up just a few days before my trip. It was no fun traveling on a cocktail of medication to treat the swelling in my face, but kitties make it all better!
The second panel of the day discussed the impact of several initiatives that are harnessing this power to change human lives through pets, from North Shore Animal League weighing in on the power of rescue animals, to the community outreach of Purina Farms. The panel was introduced by Roben Harris, who shared the story of her 11-year-old daughter Selah, who was born with Spina Bifida and has endured 28 surgeries throughout her childhood. Thanks to the groundbreaking Purina Family Pet Center at St. Louis Children’s Hospital, Selah was able to safely visit with her beloved Labradoodle while she recovered from one of these procedures. The St. Louis Children’s Hospital’s Senior Director for Corporate and Foundations, Flip Becker, has raised millions of dollars for the hospital and was instrumental in securing the gift from Purina which built the Purina Family Pet Center this year. He recounted numerous stories just like Selah’s, where hospitalized children have benefited immensely from interacting with their pets in a medically safe environment. They firmly believe that the future of integrative medicine will have more physicians embracing the healing power of animals.
We also heard about the incredibly innovative work being done by URINYC, who created the URIPALS – URI People and Animals Living Safely domestic violence shelters in New York City. These are some of the few shelters in the nation that are equipped to accept pets, and was created in response to the sobering statistic that up to 48% of domestic violence victims stay in abusive situations because they don’t want to leave their pets behind. This is clearly a huge, yet hidden barrier for domestic violence victims in receiving help, so URINYC hope that the success of their programs will inspire other organizations across the country. They are also advocating for the Pet and Women Safety Act of 2015, which proposes greater legal protections for victims and their pets including grants for the creation of similar pet-accessible shelters.
In addition to donating three dog parks to URIPALS, Purina also provides welcome kits to survivors entering the shelters. During the summit, we had the privilege of helping to assemble some of these welcome kits with supplies for the survivors and their pets. I am so impressed by the important work that URINYC is doing and am so glad that I had the opportunity to be introduced to their mission.
3. Scientific Innovation is Making Life Better For Pets
Purina has a long history of innovation in pet food, so the third panel focused on how scientific research is leading to new breakthroughs in pet nutrition. One of these recent innovations led to Bob’s favorite food, Just Right by Purina, the personalized dog food that is tailored for each dog’s nutritional needs and preferences.
Also discussed was Purina Pro Plan Bright Mind, the food which was created with enhanced botanical oils to support cognitive health in adult dogs; and this lead in to an exciting announcement:
Purina’s newest advancement coming in 2017, Purina Pro Plan Prime Plus, was unveiled to us during the summit. This blend has been shown to improve and extend the life of cats ages 7 and up, making it the feline counterpart to Purina’s breakthrough blend for dogs. Of all the innovations discussed during the Purina Better With Pets Summit, I think this one will have the most positive impact on the lives of pets next year and I’m excited to share this first look with you!
How do your pets help you live a bigger life? Share your story on social media using the hashtag #LetsLiveBig, and don’t forget to follow Purina on Facebook, Twitter, and their newly-debuted Snapchat @PurinaPetCare!