Tomorrow, many people will celebrate love by giving flowers and doing something sweet for their significant other. Yesterday, animal lovers expressed their love and concern for animal welfare legislation in Kentucky. On February 12, supporters gathered with the Humane Society of the United States and the Kentucky Animal Welfare Alliance for Humane Lobby Day in Frankfort, Ky. The point -- become a collective (and individual) voice for the animals so they, too, can lead safe, happy and healthy lives.
Participants had the opportunity to meet directly with elected officials and/or their staff and advocate for animals. Then, starting at 1 p.m., HSUS and KAWA hosted a press conference and rally, where they encouraged legislators and supporters to make a difference for animals by strengthening state animal welfare laws. Romeo, who may just be the most famous dog in Kentucky, was present to show what a change, a difference, can make. You may remember Romeo, who became the poster-dog for making cruelty to dogs and cats a felony since, as a young yellow Lab, he was beaten horrendously by his previous owner. The law passed last year and was even named after him -- "Romeo's Law." The first case is actually pending right now.
This year, HSUS and supporters are pushing passage for 3-4 pending laws -- one being to make shelter mandatory for dog....something we, as humans, see as a basic necessity to survive. So why would we not provide that for animals? Some other issues that HSUS and animal lovers hope become bills in 2009 include mandatory spay/neuter before adoption via animal shelters and preventing deaths/injuries due to antifreeze. You can learn more about state or federal legislation for companion animals by clicking here.
But, HSUS cannot do it without your help. Kentucky has been deemed as the WORST state for animal welfare laws by the Animal League Defense Fund. So, we need your help to change that. YOU are the voice for the animals. Here are some tips to help you do that:
First, know your representatives in the state Senate and House -- find out who is representing your district in Frankfort, Ky. Why is this so important for animal issues? Because YOU can influence what becomes a bill and help push bills through committees, the House, the Senate, etc. until it becomes law...much like Romeo's Law, which passed last year. But it didn't pass without community support and people contacting their representatives. With that said, legislators WANT to hear from the people that they represent, and they will take your opinion into consideration, especially if you're from their district.
Secondly, if you want your voice to be heard, call your representatives. It is the quickest and easiest way to communicate with your legislators. You can write or e-mail your legislators, but these may not be the most effective tools, as some representative don't check their e-mail regularly and snail mail can be slow. You will make an immediate by picking up your phone. You can speak directly to your legislators by caling 1-888-887-0088.
Other ways to make an impact and let your voice be heard: write letters to the editors and/or attend district meetings. Go to public meetings held by your legislator and ask questions relating to animal issues. Let your legislator know that these issues are important to you, and get them interested, too!
Lastly, stay informed on bill progress -- get information, updates and alerts, so you can make a difference. You can do this by signing up for the HSUS Action Alerts and/or joining the Kentucky Animal Welfare Alliance listserv. The Kentucky Humane Society also has a (periodic) legislative alert newsletter called PAWS for Activism. Another option is checking www.lrc.ky.gov or calling 1-800-840-2835 for up-to-date news on legislation.
How do you plan to help animals this year? How do you think HSUS can motivate more "grassroots" activism? What other ideas do you have for lobbying? We want to hear your thoughts!