Thank You, Animal Advocates!
Animal advocates of 2020—we’d like to thank you on behalf of our pawed, hooved, feathered and footed friends. This year has been particularly challenging for animals and people alike. We’ve seen increases in human and companion animal evictions, higher instances of farm animal and worker cruelty and hardships faced by animal shelters and rescues during this pandemic and economic downturn. As we go into next year, we’d like to take a moment to show our appreciation for our dedicated volunteers who fight to advance animal welfare across the country.
Our ASPCA volunteers are part of three key programs: The Regional Advocacy Field Team (RAFT), the Horse Action Team (HAT) and the District Captain program.
Our volunteers helped us achieve many legislative successes this year, despite the challenges of having to engage in an entirely virtual mode. These animal advocates placed over 400 personalized letters and phone calls to lawmakers on priority issues and had 70 virtual lobby visits, during which they directly lobbied for animal welfare policies, and in some cases, secured their legislator’s official support for priority bills—a remarkable accomplishment.
This year, our volunteers made serious strides in supporting several key federal bills, including:
- The PREPARED Act, a federal disaster preparedness bill.
- The SAFE Act, a bill to end horse slaughter.
- The HEART Act, a bill that would help dogs seized in dogfighting cases be rehabilitated and rehomed faster.
Remote volunteer/legislator meetings resulted in significant legislator cosponsorship of these key bills.
Volunteers also stepped up for farmed animals. When faster slaughter line speeds were proposed for factory farms, volunteers asked Congress to support the Safe Lines Speeds in COVID-19 Act and the Farm System Reform Act with 40 letters to the editor submitted to local newspapers—8 of those were published! While these bills didn’t pass, Congress took some very positive steps this year, and we will push for the passage of these bills in the new Congress.
On the state and local levels, determined animal advocates supported bills in New York and Connecticut to stop the sale of kittens and puppies from puppy mills in pet stores. The New York bill passed the Senate thanks to a core team of volunteers who met with policymakers, placed phone calls and sent letters. Missouri animal advocates even held a rally at the Missouri State Capitol in Jefferson City to end breed bans in the entire state. We hope to get this bill passed during the 2021 legislative session, so stay tuned! In Florida, we worked with advocates to pass legislation codifying the use of pet protective orders to ensure that survivors of domestic violence are able to protect their pets from threats of violence.
We are so proud of the hard work and accomplishments of our volunteers. Although each volunteer has unique interests and motivations, each one is passionate about advancing animal protections through policy changes.
“Hands down, my favorite aspect of being a District Captain is the opportunity to align with an organization like the ASPCA, whose mission I feel extremely passionate about, and to lobby for and be a part of legislative changes that further the welfare standards and protection of animal rights,” District Captain Kelly shared.
Devin joined RAFT in order to effect change for years to come:
“Earlier this year, I worked with the ASPCA Legislative Engagement team to give a presentation at my school about New York’s Puppy Mill Pipeline Bill (S.4234/A.6298-A) and organized a letter-writing campaign to my state senator—it was very successful and he began cosponsoring the bill. I am not even old enough to vote and seeing that I could still contribute to such an immediate and significant change inspired me to continue in this area.”
Nancy joined RAFT to learn more about how to effectively lobby for animals:
“Education and legislation are the two most important and powerful tools we have to protect animals and prevent cruelty. I am learning so much about the legislative process and how to lobby. I enjoy the monthly virtual meetings and getting to know people from all across the country who share my concern for the welfare of animals.”
In 2021, we plan to include more creative and spirited virtual events designed to enable volunteers across the nation to safely push for reforms for animals. Our virtual training platform will feature plenty of new advocacy tools! If you haven’t joined one of our advocacy volunteer teams yet, we encourage you to learn more and sign up! Your commitment to animals has helped us use every opportunity to score wins for them. We all learned that no matter what the odds may be, we can always fight for a better world for our animal companions.