Sneak Peek: Winning New Laws for Animals in 2015
All 50 state legislatures will meet this year, and almost all of them have hit the “reset” button on pending legislation: Any bills that didn’t pass in 2014 are dead, and the slate has been wiped clean. The same also applies to the 114th United States Congress, which convened on January 6 for the first of its two one-year sessions.
Here at the ASPCA, we’re already off and running: Meeting with new and returning legislators, helping to draft new animal-friendly legislation and garnering support for the reintroduction of our priority bills from last year.
On the federal side, we remain fiercely committed to passing legislation that would permanently ban horse slaughter within the U.S. as well as stop the export of American horses for that purpose. Other familiar federal bills we intend to revive include disaster planning for animals and protecting domestic violence survivors and their pets. Establishing quicker processes for re-homing animal victims of cruelty cases and working with the USDA to shape the organic animal welfare standards for chickens are just a few of the new issues we’ll tackle this year.
We also have an ambitious state-level agenda for 2015. Among other priorities, we’re working toward the day when all 50 states will regulate large-scale commercial dog breeders (puppy mills); making sure veterinarians can take action to help animals during disasters and rescues that occur outside their home states; and supporting animal shelters and law enforcement agencies that rescue and care for animal cruelty victims. We’ll also continue to battle insidious and dangerous ag-gag bills that aim to cover up animal cruelty on farms and other agricultural enterprises.
Input from constituents is often the tipping point in your elected officials’ voting decisions. It is up to you to let them know that you care deeply about protecting animals. Here are a few ways you can get involved in the legislative process and ensure that animals have the protections they deserve:
- Find out the dates of your state’s legislative session—20 states have begun already; by the end of January, 42 state legislatures will be at work.
- Look up who represents you in Congress and in your state legislature (Note: Many state legislative directories aren’t yet completely updated). Add their offices’ phone numbers to your contacts so that you can easily call to express your support for or opposition to bills affecting animal welfare.
- Join the ASPCA Advocacy Brigade. We will email you when legislation in your area needs your attention.
- Participate in an ASPCA Voices for Animals Day to lobby at your state capitol, or join one of our online training sessions on citizen advocacy. After joining the Advocacy Brigade, watch your inbox for the ASPCA’s invitations to events in your area.
Make a New Year’s resolution to get involved and be a strong voice for animals!