07 Jun 2019 - Tracey Wallace
PetCon is an annual influencer pet conference hosting a celebrity lineup similar to Coachella’s, if you’re an animal lover, that is.
In attendance are Dogs of Instagram (4.5M followers), Tuna Melts my Heart (2M followers), Harlow and Sage (1.7M followers), Crusoe The Dachshund (730K followers), Mango Brown (556K followers), Gone to the Snow Dogs (221K followers), Marley Mutts (167K followers), and hundreds of beloved Instagram and YouTube celebrity cats and dogs.
Even if you don’t follow them online, you’ve seen them in ads, on billboards, in the subway, on TV. These pets are everywhere –– and at PetCon 2019, they will all be in the human-celebrity capital of LA for a single day. It is the only place where you can get up close and personal with some of your favorite furry social media stars.
This fanfare for influencer pets shouldn’t be surprising. After all, in 2018, Americans spent more than $72 billion on products for their beloved pets. That’s a 68% increase in the last decade.
From food and poop bags, to bed and carriers, to collars and leashes, the pet business is booming because Americans love their pets.
A recent nationwide study by SpotOn Virtual Smart Fence found that 98% of dog owners consider their dogs to be members of the family. What does that mean? Well, let’s look at the numbers. Of dog owners:
This love for pets, of which nearly 40% of nationwide households have, extends to social media and even social media advertising, where social ads with pets are often considered more effective.
All of this was part of why Loni Edwards, founder of the pet talent agency The Dog Agency and PetCo and mom to a celebrity fur baby of her own: Chloe the Mini Frenchie (171K followers), first decided to launch the annual event.
Unfortunately, in the fall of 2017, things got a little more personal for Loni. Chloe died on October 25, 2017 due to a medical malpractice. In the wake of her death, Loni learned that under law, pets are considered property. They do not even hold the same legal status of “persons” like businesses in the U.S. do.
That means that if something happens to your pet, celebrity or not, the only redress you can seek are the full cost of what it takes to replace the pet –– the same as if someone broke or stole your cell phone, TV, or car.
Since then, Loni has partnered closely with the not-for-profit legal organization working to earn pets the “persons” legal status: The Animal Defense Legal Fund.
Here is an excerpt from their website:
Legal “personhood” sounds complicated. But really, this designation is mostly a practical matter. A very important practical matter.
“Legal persons” do not have to be human beings. Recall that Mitt Romney once infamously said that “corporations are people.”
He was right. Indeed both corporations and ships, just to name two, are sometimes defined as legal persons. In this context, they are granted certain rights, and they also assume some legal obligations. These entities can do such things as sue and be sued.
The legal person’s interests or rights vary, depending on their needs and nature. For example, recognizing a dog as a legal person would not give her the right to vote—any more than, say, Walmart has the right to vote.
However it might give the dog the right to not be used in a painful experiment or the right to have a court appoint a guardian to protect her legal rights.
This kind of legal work is expensive, but is the right way to change the law and advocate for our pets.
Please consider donating even if you cannot attend the event. All funds will be used to help pay for the legal proceedings that must take place in order to change the law. If you cannot donate, consider signing the #NotProperty pledge and spreading the word.
As Loni continues to fight for the proper rights and legal protections for pets, the Eterneva team is busy turning Chloe’s ashes into a diamond so she can continue bringing light to those in need.
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