Answer the Call to Action—Pick Up the Phone!

September 24, 2014

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.

Find your U.S. Representative’s name and phone number. Then check to see if he or she has already cosponsored H.R. 4524. If he or she is not listed as a cosponsor, dial that phone number! The legislator’s staffer will answer your call.

What do you say? It’s simple!

  1. 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.”

  2. 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.”

  3. 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.”

  4. 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!