Here is an interesting little thing that happened while at the AAFCO meetings…
First, I want everyone to know that despite the threatening text messages – I am fine and AAFCO meetings are over (at least my part of them). I get to go back home tomorrow.
I did share the text message information with multiple regulatory folks here at the meetings including with FDA. The President of AAFCO (the new President – from Kansas) made a special trip over to me and offered his apologies for this happening to me. He was very sincere and I so appreciated his comments. All but a couple of the people I shared the story with were very concerned and compassionate. And for those that were compassionate – I thank you.
I will type up notes from the meetings once I return home – but for tonight, I’d like to share a short story of something that happened here…
While at AAFCO meetings, there are ears listening to us everywhere. Over the years we’ve caught them taking pictures of us (Sacramento during our meeting with FDA), but we mainly notice how people are leaning in…listening to our conversations. Because of this dreadful behavior, we tend to leave the hotel in order to have the privacy to just be ourselves. Sometimes we talk about pet food ‘stuff’ – sometimes we don’t. But it has become a requirement to get away from ‘them’ in order to enjoy any moment at an AAFCO meeting.
Here in Mobile, I found our ‘get away’ spot on Saturday when I arrived; a little establishment frequented mostly by locals but close enough to the hotel (walking distance). When I arrived here on Saturday I saw the little spot and walked over. The place was empty. It was perfect. I ordered a pizza Saturday night and sat and had conversation with the bartender…of course in the conversation it came up that I am here representing pet food consumers in regulatory meetings. She has a cat, she was interested.
On Sunday night most of our group had arrived and after the events of the day (those texts), we headed to our get away to talk. The place was empty again, minus a couple of locals. We ordered food again and I shared the story of the threatening texts with our pet owner bartender.
On Monday night, with our entire group in tow, we went back to our safe place. Same bartender who was glad to see us. The place was empty for a while, then a few people walked in. Our ‘be careful what you say’ radar went up. So I asked the bartender if she would let us know when anyone other than locals came in. She gladly agreed. She joked the code word will be ‘Blueberry’.
We had organic chips and salsa, and ordered another pizza and were having a wonderful time – not being watched. A few more people entered the bar. And then the bartender slid this to me across the bar…
It turned out that sitting down at the other end was some of ‘them’. Our pet owner bartender was one of ‘us’. She had our back. She was telling us be careful of what we say – we were being listened to. We learned after ‘they’ left – the blueberry warning was legitimate. ‘They’ told the bartender “She is evil.” ‘She’ was in reference to me. ‘They’ even gave the bartender a detailed account of everything I had done this entire day. Our suspicions of being listened to and watched at every move was just confirmed.
The point of sharing this story – what ‘they’ don’t understand is that ‘we’ are everywhere. We are in every nook and cranny around the globe. And significantly, ‘we’ look out for our own. Even in a little local pub in Mobile, AL – we are here for each other. We look out for each other because to us – our pets are not a source for profit. To us, our pets are our family.
My thanks to our safe place pet lover – my thanks to everyone out there that shares information with other pet lovers. We are one awesome team!
More information on the meetings soon –