Judge and Jury: Passport to success for animal lovers’ pet subject - The Passports for Pets group got full PR mileage from a well planned campaign, says Adam Woolf, former head of media at Greenpeace UK and now a campaigns and communications consu

The campaign to reform Britain’s quarantine laws is all over, bar the shouting. Last week, the Government indicated that instead of a six month stretch in kennels, microchip implants and documentation proving inoculation against rabies and other diseases will now suffice for pets returning with their owners to Britain.

The campaign to reform Britain’s quarantine laws is all over, bar

the shouting. Last week, the Government indicated that instead of a six

month stretch in kennels, microchip implants and documentation proving

inoculation against rabies and other diseases will now suffice for pets

returning with their owners to Britain.



It would be easy to understate the success of the Passports for Pets

campaign. A string of emotive stories about the cruelty of ’animal

prisons’, backed up by celebrity-led stories about the pain of

separation from family pets would be sufficient to win the campaign in

this animal loving country.



Yet this belittles the skill of this campaign and the opposition it

faced.



Only last year an opinion poll suggested the majority of people were in

favour of retaining the quarantine laws. The fear of rabies and other

’foreign’ diseases runs deep in the nation’s psyche.



Sure, Passports for Pets has good establishment connections. But even

so, it’s a remarkable achievement for a pressure group which was only

established three years ago. Its success is based on skilful messaging

and diligent groundwork to build a broad alliance of support.



By calling itself Passports for Pets, it immediately appealed to

everybody who loves animals. At the same time it offered reassurance to

those who loathe the dog next door and are concerned that it will start

frothing at the mouth when it returns from the family holiday

abroad.



This dual messaging has run through the organisation’s activities and

sets the style and tone of its campaign. A blunt ’scrap quarantine laws’

campaign - even with the support of the powerful animal rights lobby -

would never have worked. The name Passports for Pets conveys both the

problem and the solution. It addresses people’s concerns about change

and therefore it immediately disarms opponents’ arguments.



Passports for Pets built up an impressive array of supporters. Early on

it won support from the RSPCA and other animal welfare charities. It

also invested time and effort in convincing vets and Ministery of

Agriculture, Fisheries and Food officials of the merits of its case.

Naturally conservative and resistant to the campaign’s emotive appeal,

these bodies were swayed by scientific evidence and research.



This strategy proved so successful that the only real opposition to the

pet passports scheme comes from Britain’s 79 licensed quarantine kennel

owners whose business will now, metaphorically, go to the dogs.



Have you registered with us yet?

Register now to enjoy more articles and free email bulletins

Register
Already registered?
Sign in

Would you like to post a comment?

Please Sign in or register.