Guest blog by Deborah Press, ASPCA Senior Manager of Regulatory Affairs
Today the ASPCA and the nation’s most capable and caring hearts and minds—from the Department of Justice, the FBI, USDA, and other organizations—met to problem solve around the future of animals rescued from fighting operations. The ASPCA and its government partners came together under the auspices of the Department of Justice’s Animal Cruelty Working Group, to ensure that the process for seizing animals used in these heinous crimes is as smooth and efficient as possible so that more animals can be saved.
The ASPCA regularly works side by side with federal, state and local law enforcement to save animals from cruelty and build criminal cases against abusers. When the ASPCA assists law enforcement in animal fighting raids, the animals are held in limbo as evidence—for over a year sometimes—while prosecutors and law enforcement agencies pursue cases against accused animal fighters. As a result, the animals must stay in temporary shelters and cannot begin their new lives in forever homes.
Animal fighting victims aren’t like other criminal evidence that can be warehoused in storage lockers for years at a time. These animals have delicate behavioral needs, and even with the best staff behaviorists in the country tending to them, rescued dogs often deteriorate psychologically after many months caged in a temporary shelter environment to the point where they cannot be adopted.
We are grateful to our partners for all of the work they do to stamp out animal fighting and for throwing their expertise and passion for animals into this important cooperative conversation.
It’s hard to believe we’re only a month out from Election Day! For midterm elections like these, where there are no presidential candidates keeping our attention focused on the race for the White House, it can be easy to forget there are still a lot of important elections happening this November. But that makes it even more important that your voice is heard!
On Tuesday, November 4, all 435 seats in the U.S. House of Representatives will be up for grabs along with 36 of the 100 Senate seats. And when you go to vote this November, many of you will also be electing your governors, state senators and representatives, mayors, city council members and other local officials.
Don’t worry—it’s not too late to register, but please do so soon. Deadlines to vote in November’s election are quickly approaching, with some as soon as this Saturday, October 4 (we’re looking at you, South Carolina and Nevada!). In many states, you can register online in just minutes through sites like registertovote.org.
We encourage you to research your candidates’ positions and voting records on the issues that matter to you. There are many issues facing our country and your vote can make a difference this election, so please register today!
New York City Council Member Paul Vallone has introduced a bill that would require full-service animal shelters to be established in the boroughs of Queens and the Bronx. Queens and the Bronx have a combined estimated population of over 3.6 million (if the two boroughs were an independent city, that city would be the third-largest in the nation), yet they currently have only “receiving centers” for animals. Manhattan, Brooklyn and Staten Island do have full service animal shelters.
“Receiving centers are not enough! They do not provide shelter or medical care for homeless animals, nor do they provide a place to recover lost pets before they’re euthanized,” stated Council Member Vallone. “Most importantly, since animals brought to these receiving centers in the Bronx and Queens must be transported to a full service shelter in the other boroughs, their continued absence places insurmountable pressure on the existing facilities which already operate at maximum capacity. In the end, homeless animals are the ones that face the consequences of this pressure as many otherwise healthy pets are lost to euthanasia.”
Nearly every City Council Member representing the Bronx and Queens is on record as supporting the use of city budget money for the construction of these full-service shelters, and the ASPCA strongly supports it as well. “With the tremendous investment of the ASPCA and in collaboration with our many partners, we have made significant progress for some of our city’s most vulnerable residents,” says ASPCA President and CEO Matt Bershadker. “However, there’s still much to do, and establishing full-service shelters in each borough is an essential step to getting us to a place where no adoptable animal dies.”
Guest blog by Jessica Johnson, Senior Manager of Grassroots Advocacy for ASPCA Government Relations.
In the age of modern technology, it’s easier than ever to contact lawmakers and let them know where we stand on animal protection issues. In fact, if you’re a member of our ASPCA Advocacy Brigade, you’ve received our timely email alerts that allow you to send letters to your legislators with a few quick clicks of a button!
But that ease is a double-edged sword—legislative offices are flooded with emails, so there’s a lot of competition to get your voice heard. While it’s still absolutely crucial to continue to email legislators and respond to our advocacy alerts, animal advocates must remember to use every tool at their disposal. And an often overlooked but equally easy-to-use tool is the old-fashioned telephone!
If you haven’t tried it before, it’s not uncommon to feel a little nervous about calling a legislative office. But you will be shocked at how simple, efficient and effective one phone call is.
Why are phone calls important? Precisely because most people are more comfortable with email. Since fewer people make phone calls than send emails, legislators may often give more attention and more weight to the callers. Your phone call is a more assertive and proactive form of advocacy—leading legislators to realize that you will hold them accountable for the decisions they make for animals.
Give it a try today! The Animal Emergency Planning Act (H.R. 4524), recently introduced in the U.S. House of Representatives, will require facilities such as commercial animal-breeders, zoos and laboratories to create plans for protecting animals in their care during disasters. These are businesses that make money off of animals, so the least they can do is prepare for their care during natural disasters and emergencies! But we need Representatives to pledge their support by cosponsoring this bill.
Identify yourself as a constituent and introduce yourself by name and location. Politics is personal, so don’t be afraid to share what role you or your family might play in the community.
Example: “Hello, my name is John Doe and I am a constituent living at 1234 Stone Avenue in Town, State. I own and operate the John’s Shoe Store downtown and I’m the president of the local VFW. My spouse teaches at Smith Kindergarten.”
Make your ask. Let them know—politely and succinctly—what you want.
Example: “I strongly urge Representative Johnston to support and cosponsor the Animal Emergency Planning Act, H.R. 4524, to require facilities such as commercial animal-breeders, zoos and laboratories to develop disaster response plans for their animals.”
If you want to, briefly explain why. Politely offer a short reason why the legislator should take the action you’re requesting. Here is more information and talking points on H.R. 4524.
Example: “Businesses that make money off of animals should have to prepare for their care during an emergency or disaster situation. September is National Disaster Preparedness month, so there’s no better time to cosponsor H.R. 4524.”
End with a “thank you.” You’re done!
A few quick tips:
Always remember to be clear, brief and polite. That’s the kind of representation animals need.
If the person on the other end of the line asks you a question you don’t know the answer to, it is absolutely okay to say, “I’m not sure, but I’ll look into that and get back to you.” Definitely don’t make something up!
Make it a habit. In a few weeks, check in again to see if the legislator has cosponsored the bill—and if not, find out if there’s any information you could provide to help sway his or her decision.
When you’ve made your phone call, report back on how it went in the comments below!
If you have any questions or want to connect further, feel free to contact my team at [email protected]. Thank you for your tireless advocacy for animals!
Is your pup patriotic? Today is Dogs in Politics Day!
Officially called “Checkers Day” after the famous 1952 speech by then-Senator Nixon, this day celebrates the importance of our four-legged friends, even in Washington! Canines have had the run of the White House for decades and have joined members of Congress on Capitol Hill.
With your help, we’re working hard to help keep dogs and their furry companions safe by advocating for them across the county—and we’ve made amazing progress.
However, there’s still a lot more to be done. Dogs don’t have thumbs, so they need you to stand up and be their voice!
Visit our online Advocacy Center to take action now and find resources on how to get involved on a state and national level.
Spread the word to your family and friends! Share the adorable card below on your social media channels and encourage everyone you know to speak up for animals.
Register to vote. By serendipitous coincidence, today is also National Voter Registration Day! Every election cycle, millions of Americans miss out on voting because they didn’t register in time. Election Day 2014 is November 4, and several states’ registration deadlines are approaching—don’t put it off, register today!