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!
We have a soft spot for chickens: they’re feathery and friendly, curious and even cuddly. And did you know they experience REM (rapid eye movement) sleep, associated with dreaming? But nearly 9 billion birds in this country are not living a dream. They’re suffering on overcrowded, unsanitary factory farms, bred to grow in such rapid, unnatural ways that they often collapse and spend much of their lives lying in their own waste.
At the ASPCA, we’re fighting to change this—but we need your help.
The chicken-meat industry calls September National Chicken Month, so it’s the perfect time to use your voice and take a stand for more humanely raised, healthier chickens:
1. Check out our new video, “The Professor,” to learn what’s gone wrong in chicken farming and what can be done about it:
3. Spread the word. Let your friends and family know that September is National Chicken Month and there’s a lot they can do to help! Join us on Friday, September 12 at 3:00 P.M. (Eastern time) for a special Twitter chat using the hashtag #ChickenMonth. And be sure to spread the word on your social channels using the sample post below!
Chickens suffer on factory farms and they deserve better! Join @ASPCA and take action: truthaboutchicken.org #ChickenMonth
Thirty days and three powerful ways to help billions of animals. Cluck yeah!
In a huge step forward for our nation’s companion animals, U.S. Representatives Katherine Clark (D-MA) and Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-FL) have come together to introduce the Pet and Women Safety (PAWS) Act (H.R. 5267), landmark legislation extending existing federal protections to pets of domestic violence victims.
The connection between animal cruelty and domestic violence is a well-documented one and, sadly, many pets are often used as pawns in domestic disputes. Seventy-one percent of women entering domestic violence shelters have reported that their abusers also harmed, threatened, and in severe cases, killed their pets. What’s more, as many as half of those victims delay seeking help and remain in these dangerous environments because they fear for the safety of the pets they are forced to leave behind.
If passed, the Act would prohibit abusers from crossing state lines to harm a domestic partner’s pets, making it a punishable offense under the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA). It also adds veterinary care to the list of restitution costs recoverable by victims, authorizes federal grant funding to provide assistance and housing to victims’ pets in need of emergency shelter and recommends states extend legal protections to include pets in court-issued protective orders in domestic dispute cases.
While twenty-seven states, as well as the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico, have passed laws allowing pets to be included in protective orders, no such legislation currently exists at the federal level, making the PAWS Act the first of its kind to explicitly address this need.
By ensuring strong protections and valuable resources at the federal level, the PAWS Act gives victims the security they need to get help and protects their beloved pets from the hands of abusers. We are so thankful to Reps. Clark and Ros-Lehtinen for their strong leadership in taking this important step in the fight against animal cruelty and domestic violence.
Stay up-to-date on the latest animal-related legislation!
Join our Advocacy Brigade to receive our weekly newsletter, ASPCA News Alert. You'll receive important updates on what's going on in your state and how you can make an impact on animals’ lives!
Guest blog by Daisy Freund, Senior Manager of the ASPCA’s Farm Animal Welfare Campaign
A constitutional amendment guaranteeing the “right to farm” was passed in Missouri last week by the narrowest of margins. Amendment 1 squeaked by with a 0.2% lead; a mere 2,528 votes out of almost one million cast. While the amendment may have seemed harmless to many voters, those who opposed it, including the ASPCA, worry that it could shield a disturbingly broad range of agricultural industries and practices. Those benefiting from the amendment include factory farms and the state’s notorious puppy mill industry, considered by some to be a form of agriculture. It was incredibly heartening to see so many Missouri voters reject this deceptive measure in the face of such powerful and well-funded proponents of Amendment 1.The coalition formed in opposition– farmers, advocacy groups, businesses – is impressive and will continue to grow.
Many Missouri family farmers were wary of this amendment, for good reason. One farmer in Boone County explained why her commitment to running a sustainable, welfare-minded farm was also her reason for opposing a “right to farm.” In many cases, her farming methods conflict with nearby industrial farms’ practices, such as when her neighbors recently sprayed chemicals that drifted onto her chemical-free fields. In her words, “the rights of all farmers cannot be simultaneously guaranteed.”
The ASPCA appreciates this country’s hardworking, responsible farmers who use more humane practices, but irresponsible farming impacts lives—both animal and human. As Americans become increasingly interested in where their food is coming from, they’re learning that industrial-scale farms often achieve “efficiency” and cheaper products at the expense of animal welfare, food safety, worker safety and the environment. Society is demanding better.
But Big Ag is busy inventing ways to skirt the rules, creating “ag-ceptions.” In an effort to avoid the scandals that stem from undercover investigations, states with big farming industries are introducing ag-gag legislation that aim to criminalize on-farm whistleblowing. The movement to block these bills has been very successful, thanks to a strong coalition of civil liberties, animal welfare, labor, farming and environmental protection groups who believe in more transparency in the food system—not less. Just four states have passed ag-gag laws in the last three years, despite nearly half of all states introducing bills.
It’s exciting that Americans are demanding accountability on issues like animal welfare and food safety, but disappointing that much of the food industry stubbornly refuses to listen. “Right to farm” laws are another attempt to discourage scrutiny, but we deserve to take a close look at the agricultural industry when their decisions directly impact consumer safety, animal welfare, and our environment. The ASPCA will continue to stand up for animals—in Missouri and across the country—because there are no ag-ceptions to the rule that animals should live free from abuse and suffering.