You Have the Power to Help Pass Humane Laws "I am only one, but still I am one. I cannot do everything, but still I can do something." Helen Keller
In Massachusetts, Coalition to Protect and Rescue Pets led the campaigns that passed three state laws and two municipal ordinances in just five years, including Logan's Law, landmark legislation banning the cruel practice of canine/feline devocalization.
And we did it without funding or a big-name organization, against opposition from powerful special interest groups and their lobbyists.
No Matter Where You Live, You Can Protect Animals You can make a difference too just by telling your own elected officials where you stand on animal issues and encouraging others in your community to do the same.
Call. Visit. Attend political events. Work on campaigns. Of course, be sure to vote. Get to know the municipal, state and federal lawmakers who represent you--and let them get to know your commitment to protecting animals. Here's how to find your state and federal lawmakers.
CAUTION: Look Before You Lobby Don't follow anyone blindly, not even a trusted animal organization. They can get it wrong or have behind-the-scenes alliances that result in legislation you might not agree with if only you knew what it really said.
You MUST read the legislation you're being asked to support or oppose--directly from the legislature’s website. Have your lawmaker or his/her staff explain it if you don’t understand it. That’s part of their job!
Read it again before lawmakers vote on it every step of the way, in committees and on the floor. And once more before it goes to the governor for his or her signature. If loopholes were added, you'll need to ask for a veto.
These clever provisions can turn an animal-protection law into one that hurts animals. They're rarely obvious. And they can be added to a bill ANY TIME before it becomes law, often in the 11th hour—during the final vote on the floor!
It’s a sneaky way for lawmakers to pander to power-lobbies that profit from animals while placating uninformed humane voters.
So What About Those Online Petitions It's cliched but true: All politics is local. While online petitions are great for creating awareness of issues and influencing organizations and businesses, they don't influence lawmakers. Lawmakers are responsive to their own constituents, who can hire and fire them with their vote; unauthenticated signatures of people from throughout cyberspace do not matter to them.
A Word About Emails A constituent on the phone or sitting across the desk is impossible to ignore. Not so with emails; if you think you get a lot, imagine how many lawmakers receive every day. But if you must email them, at least compose your own rather than just adding your name to a boilerplate message sent by an organization.
And if you're writing about specific legislation, do this: Put "Constituent Supports (or Opposes) Bill #" in the subject line. Be sure to include your full name and mailing address to show you live in the district. A personal letter or note--it needn't be lengthy, just heartfelt--communicates that the issue really matters to you.
How to Maximize Your Impact Call and/or visit your elected officials and ask other animal lovers to do the same. Sure, it takes a little more time than a few keystrokes and a click. But personal contact with lawmakers works. And isn't protecting animals worth it?
You don't have to travel to Washington or your state's capitol. Most lawmakers maintain offices in the communities they represent; others will meet with constituents at local libraries and coffee shops.
Before you go (or call), be an informed advocate. Make sure you read up on and understand the issue you're presenting to your elected official--or an aide. This site is a great source for credible information about devocalization. Learn something about the lawmaker too. Go to the legislature's website for information about his or her sponsored bills, legislative committees, interests and background; you may discover you have a lot in common.