April 18, 2018

Working with Your Legislators: Powerful Action for Animals

During National Volunteer Week, the ASPCA is proud to recognize our amazing District Captains! Our District Captains are high-level advocates who have taken their advocacy further as they work to make a positive difference for animals. These super-volunteers ideally live in congressional districts that are especially crucial to our legislative priorities (a shifting landscape, to be sure), and come from a variety of backgrounds. District Captains generally spend several hours each week recruiting volunteers and building positive relationships with their elected officials to build support for animal-protection legislation. 

In 2017 alone, our District Captains engaged over 400 additional volunteers, performed more than 250 communication-outreach actions (such as writing Letters to the Editor or making calls in support of an animal-protection bill), and met with lawmakers over a dozen times. They also come to the nation’s capital, when they’re able, and we join them in their meetings on Capitol Hill. 

Lori Rosano, a District Captain from Southern California, recently visited Washington, D.C., and met with staff working for her federal legislators, Representative Darrell Issa and Senators Kamala Harris and Dianne Feinstein, to discuss animal protection legislation. Lori lobbied for the Help Extract Animals from Red Tape (HEART) Act, legislation to expedite the release and rehoming of animals seized in federal animal fighting cases. She effectively used her connection to a local nonprofit and her own experiences in retraining animals to argue her case.

“I was very impressed and pleasantly surprised by how willing each office was to meet with their constituent,” Lori commented after the meetings. “I was nervous going in! But walking the halls was incredibly empowering and inspiring, but that also comes with a fair share of nerves that the meetings would go well.”

Lori’s meeting with Senator Harris’s office illustrates the importance of constituent support for the HEART Act— shortly after their meeting, Senator Harris adopted the issue as her own and became our Democratic leader for the Senate version of the bill! 

Lori with ASPCA staffLori (second from left) with ASPCA staff in front of the U.S. Capitol Building

Another ASPCA District Captain, Amy Bansal, is also very active in her Iowa community, where she engages and recruits the public to be a voice for animals. She recently attended the Iowa Humane Lobby Day in Des Moines to share information about the ASPCA’s legislative priorities. Amy has several rescued horses and is actively engaged in equine welfare work herself so she is an especially valuable citizen lobbyist in her work to end horse slaughter. 

Amy with her rescued horses

ASPCA District Captain, Amy, with her rescue horses, Bintu and DaVinci

Anyone can be a voice for animals! Educating elected officials about the importance of animal protection legislation is the responsibility of every compassionate citizen. As Amy reflected, “If others are passionate about animal welfare, I urge them to contact their representatives; they really are willing and ready to listen. I know from my own experience of inviting my member of Congress to visit my horses.” 

If you are interested in joining this dedicated team of leaders, please visit our District Captain page to learn more! Can’t commit to our District Captain program, but still want to help animals? Read about our other volunteer opportunities and join the ASPCA Advocacy Brigade to be alerted when animals in your state need your help.