The first step we take is identifying the need for a law, whether it concerns specific acts of cruelty or the necessity for stronger penalties and provisions where laws already exist. If no legislation has been introduced, or if we do not support the pending bill, we draft legislation to address the issue. We do this on federal, state, and local levelsdepending on where the issue should most appropriately be addressedand work to secure legislators to introduce the bill. Our Government Affairs & Public Policy associates and Legislative Services liaisons lobby key legislators, chairpersons of relevant committees considering the bill, and pertinent government officials and policy makers to obtain support. While understanding that the legislative process is a democratic process that oftentimes requires consensus building and compromise to accommodate vying interest groups, our associates work to negotiate the strongest possible provisions that will protect animals. Next, we work to develop our targeted letter-writing campaigns in which our Advocacy Brigade members take part.
Sometimes the legislative process is not always the best route to achieve our goal. This is very often the case with hunting and trapping or other "sport" events such as animal fighting. In recent years, citizen initiatives have been launched to prohibit these activities in states where legislation has continually failed. Through these initiatives, the issue is brought directly before the citizens of the state to decide. This process takes the issue out of the political process of the legislature and away from the persuasive influence of powerful interest groups. Such was the case with the recent bans on cockfighting in Oklahoma, Arizona and Missouri, trapping in California, Arizona and Massachusetts, hound hunting in Oregon and Washington, and gestation crates for sows in Florida.
Additionally, successful consumer education campaigns and boycotts of certain cosmetic products that were tested on animals led to many companies ceasing this practice. Likewise, public outrage over the deaths of hundreds of thousands of dolphins in mile-long nets used to catch tuna resulted in the ban on the marketing of "dolphin-deadly" tuna and the establishment of “dolphin-safe" label on canned tuna.
Whether it is through legislation, citizen initiatives, or the power of consumer boycotts, the ASPCA seeks to establish laws and change public policy to achieve stronger protections for animals.