Advocates Gather in DC for ASPCA Training Summit

October 4, 2018

ASPCA animal advocates took their advocacy to a whole new level last week! On September 25 and 26, eight ASPCA Horse Action Team (HAT) members and District Captains from California, Nevada, Iowa, Kansas, Missouri, Maine, Ohio and Florida gathered in Washington, D.C., for the ASPCA’s 2018 Advocacy Leadership Summit. During the two-day event, advocates heard directly from the ASPCA’s Government Relations, Member Communications and Media Communications experts about effective ways to communicate with lawmakers and fellow constituents about animal welfare issues before taking their training directly into their lawmakers’ offices. 

ASPCA HAT members are the ASPCA’s special volunteer strike team focused on advancing policy reforms for America’s equines, and ASPCA District Captains volunteer to galvanize support for the passage of animal protection legislation in their communities. 

On day two of the summit, advocates took to the Hill with the ASPCA’s federal legislative team for meetings with their members of Congress on pressing animal welfare issues. Constituent meetings like these demonstrate to lawmakers how important these issues are to voters in their districts and can have a tangible and lasting impression on lawmakers that results in support for animal protection legislation. 

District Captain Dawn Johnson of Bucyrus, Kansas, met with one of her senators, Senator Pat Roberts. Dawn thanked Senator Roberts for ensuring that the Senate version of the 2018 Farm Bill included the Pet and Women Safety (PAWS) Act to protect victims of domestic violence and their pets, and asked him to ensure that the final Farm Bill does not include the dangerous King Provision, which would strip states’ abilities to protect animals. Dawn said that “the whole process was empowering and encouraging” and she “would encourage everyone to do it on the local level!” 

“I was very impressed Senator Roberts took the time for this meeting, acknowledging I was a constituent who had traveled to see him. We spent time talking about some of his personal experiences and I shared my passion about animal welfare. The next time he has an opportunity to protect animals in Congress, I hope he thinks of me. It was an amazing experience.”  

District Captain Kim Lango of Henderson, Nevada, met with Senator Catherine Cortez Masto to discuss the Senator’s leadership on ending the predatory practice of pet leasing and protecting America’s iconic wild horses and burros. She was keenly interested in our work on wild horses and has since reached out to us to partner on this issue. 

“I’m amazed at how easy it was to discuss animal welfare legislation and how receptive [Senator Cortez Masto] was. It was very empowering to know that she is willing to listen to my views! If the issues are not presented to them, they will have no way to make changes. You are a source of information for them and they are very appreciative of you informing them on their constituents’ concerns.”

Other topics discussed by advocates with their lawmakers included the Help Extract Animals from Red Tape (HEART) Act, which would help expedite the process for rehabilitating and rehoming animals rescued from federal animal fighting cases, and the Safeguard American Food Exports (SAFE) Act,  which would ban the cruel horse slaughter industry and end the shipping of American horses abroad for slaughter. 

It was an empowering, energizing day for these dedicated advocates, who vowed to carry that energy home with them and apply it to their community work for animals. “Animals need strong allies on Capitol Hill and inside state capitol buildings, so having bright, energetic, articulate citizens join our team to lobby for priority legislation is energizing and meaningful for our mission,” said Nancy Perry, Senior Vice President of ASPCA Government Relations. “Telling the story behind your support for a bill, as their constituent, can tip the scale in winning a legislator’s support.”

We want to thank the District Captains and HAT members who joined us in Washington, D.C. These participants showed that they truly are top-level, effective citizen advocates!

Want to become a District Captain or HAT member? Please consider applying today! Visit the ASPCA Advocacy Center to apply or learn more about available volunteer opportunities.