Guest blog by Andrew Binovi, ASPCA Federal Legislative Manager
With all the political gridlock in Washington D.C., it seems that Congress has nearly ground to a complete halt. So it was very exciting late yesterday when the U.S. Senate considered two important measures to help animals in need!
First, the Senate took up the cause of canine heroes who have served in our military and passed a provision that streamlines the adoption process for retired military dogs and authorizes the Department of Defense to provide veterinary care in the animals’ retirement without any cost to American taxpayers. Military dogs perform dangerous, critical tasks, and it is our duty to honor these dogs and ensure they are cared for after their service is complete. The House passed similar language in their version of the military bill earlier this year.
Then, just moments later, the Senate passed the Animal Fighting Spectator Prohibition Act by a unanimous voice vote. This bill, introduced by Sens. Richard Blumenthal (D-CT) and Mark Kirk (R-IL), along with Sens. Maria Cantwell (D-WA) and Scott Brown (R-MA), will give law enforcement additional tools to crack down on animal fighting. The legislation will make it a federal offense to attend an organized animal fight and will impose additional penalties for taking minors to animal fights.
Take Action! We are encouraged that in the twilight hours of this Congress, animals in need have not been forgotten by federal lawmakers. Our team has been working around the clock with members of Congress to ensure passage of both bills, but we still need your help. Please call your representative and ask him or her to support the Animal Fighting Spectator Prohibition Act in the House. Animals victimized in this grisly blood sport are in desperate need—and they are counting on us to get the job done!
Guest blog post from Bill Ketzer, Senior Director of the Northeastern Region for ASPCA Government Relations.
Last week, a historic law went into effect that will vastly improve the quality of life for thousands of dogs and cats in Massachusetts.
Advanced by a forward-thinking state legislature led by Senator Patricia Jehlen and signed into law by Governor Deval Patrick this August, Massachusetts’ new animal control law is one of the best in the nation.
At Animal Advocacy Day in Boston earlier this year, I had the privilege of working directly with the MSPCA, the HSUS, the Animal Rescue League of Boston and more than 80 citizen advocates to discuss the importance of this bill with key members of the Massachusetts House and Senate. Everyone involved was engaged, well-informed and passionate—and as you can see, this clearly resonated with legislators and staff.
The new Massachusetts law:
Creates a statewide spay/neuter program—funded by a voluntary tax check-off—to reduce the number of homeless animals in Massachusetts.
Requires animal control officers to receive training.
Prohibits the use of inhumane gassing to euthanize shelter animals.
Eliminates ineffective, breed-specific local ordinances while improving dangerous dog laws.
Allows pets to be included in domestic violence protection orders to protect both animals and people.
Creates a framework for statewide oversight for animal control.
Creates categories for kennel licensing.
Creates consistency in the holding time for stray dogs at shelters statewide.
Hooray for L.A.! Last night, the Los Angeles City Council voted 12 to 2 in favor of a proposed city ordinance to ban the sale of dogs, cats and rabbits in pet stores. If the Council upholds the vote next week, L.A. will become the largest city in the U.S. to pass this type of law!
The ordinance is designed to stem puppy mill abuse by making sure that dogs from puppy mills don’t find their way to pet stores in the city. There’s good news for homeless pets, too: The new law will allow pet stores to sell animals who come from shelters, humane societies, and registered rescue groups—just not from commercial breeders. It also still allows people to buy directly from breeders.
According to our No Pet Store Puppies map of stores that sell puppies, there are 18 stores in Los Angeles that will no longer be able to prop up the puppy mill industry once the ban takes effect.
Kudos to our good friends at Best Friends Animal Society for spearheading this incredible effort and helping to turn the tide for puppy mill dogs across the country! Please help us keep momentum moving in the right direction by taking our No Pet Store Puppies pledge today!
Update 11/19/12: Way to go, Los Angeles! On October 31, the L.A. City Council formally approved a new ordinance that bans retail sales of dogs, cats and rabbits. The ordinance will go into effect by the end of 2012, after which stores have a six month grace period to stop selling these animals. The ordinance will not affect responsible hobby breeders.
Guest blog post from Jessica Johnson, Grassroots Advocacy Manager for ASPCA Government Relations.
North Dakota is one of only two states that still classify even the most malicious acts of animal cruelty as weak misdemeanors. For years the state legislature has refused to take action, so the citizens of North Dakota took the matter into their own hands and gathered more than 25,000 signatures—almost double the amount needed—to put Measure 5 on the ballot this Election Day.
I want nothing more than to see Measure 5 passed into law by North Dakota’s voters on November 6—that’s why I’m digging my winter boots and sweaters out of the closet and heading to Bismarck to work on the YES! on Measure 5 campaign!
Please call, email, and text your friends and family in North Dakota and ask them to vote YES! on Measure 5. And if you or someone you know are in North Dakota and want to join me and other volunteers in our efforts to get out the YES! on Measure 5 vote, please email me at [email protected]. Let’s do this for the animals!
Guest blog by Jessica Johnson, Grassroots Advocacy Manager for the ASPCA’s Government Relations team.
One of the highlights of my work at the ASPCA is supervising our incredible Government Relations interns. I am so grateful for the many mentors and hands-on experiences I was lucky to have over the years, and I love being able to pay that forward to future animal welfare professionals.
If you are a student with an interest in pursuing a career working in animal welfare, policy, law, or other similar field, we have a great opportunity you should know about. Apply for an ASPCA Government Relations internship in our Washington, D.C. office where you can work side-by- side with our Government Relations staff! There is no better window to our world than interning with us, and you can make a real difference while learning about public policy as it affects animals.
Our interns were incredibly instrumental in our work last summer. They reached out to members of our ASPCA Advocacy Brigade to mobilize them on key initiatives, responded to constituent requests for information, and helped me organize citizen lobby days. They tracked the thousands of state and federal laws and administrative regulations pertaining to animals, and they drafted letters, memorandums, and fact sheets to support our lobbying efforts. Throughout the summer, they served as our eyes and ears at many hearings and briefings on the Hill, and accompanied us at meetings with legislators. They sat in on our internal staff and strategy meetings, getting a real insider’s view of our work.
We appreciate interns’ contributions more than words can say, but I also want to share what some of our former interns have said:
“I feel extremely fortunate for the learning experience that the ASPCA internship provided because I think that few interns are exposed to such a wide variety of work. This internship has taught me what nonprofit government relations work really is, and it has confirmed my desire to work in this field after graduation.” - Rachel Easter, first-year law student at Stanford Law School
“Working with the ASPCA Government Relations team has made for an awesome internship. I enjoyed working alongside the fun and supportive staff, and I feel that I was able to work on a diverse group of topics and have become much more familiar with animal welfare issues than I was before.” - Joshua Loveall, second-year law student at Georgetown Law School
“My summer internship at the ASPCA was the perfect transition between school and working, and provided me with so many valuable experiences and skills with which to start my job search. I learned a ton about policy in a short amount of time, and everyone was welcoming, gracious and so much fun. I’m so grateful to have had the opportunity to work with the government relations team!” - Melissa Rothstein, graduate student, Master of Animals and Public Policy at Tufts University