Nationwide, animal advocates are gearing up for a new legislative season by attending their state’s Humane Lobby Day events. Last Wednesday, citizens from across the state of Virginia kicked off the year’s first Humane Lobby Day by attending a rally and meetings in Richmond.
Humane Lobby Days are great opportunities for citizens to learn basic lobbying skills and meet with their state lawmakers to advocate for animal protection. Usually the events are three to six hours long and include lobbying workshops and an explanation of pending bills that impact animal welfare. Attendees meet with their legislators so they can ask them face-to-face for animal-friendly votes on specified bills.
Many people support strong animal protection bills, but are nervous about interacting with politicians. Elected officials respond to the wishes of their constituents and without animal advocates speaking out, lawmakers only hear from the often very organized opposing side. Especially when money is involved, animal exploiters lobby extensively to continue to make money from animal suffering. Animal welfare advocates speak for the animals who cannot speak for themselves. That is the purpose of Lobby Days.
The focus of Virginia’s Humane Lobby Day was SB 1280, a bill introduced by Sen. David Marsden (D-Burke), which aims to crack down on the cruel practice of fox penning by ending staged competitions within fox pens and placing a moratorium on new enclosures for staged animal fights.
“Humane Lobby Day provides an opportunity for Virginia legislators to meet with their constituents and see how passionate they are about protecting animals,” said Jessica Johnson, grassroots advocacy manager for the ASPCA. “Pitting packs of dogs against defenseless captive wildlife to fight for their lives is a cruel and unnecessary practice that animal advocates, ethical hunters and the communities surrounding these pens are all against.”
“I thought the meeting was especially effective because we were able to clear up misconceptions about fox penning,” said Kelly Duer, a Virginia resident who attended the rally. “While discussing how the staged competitions in fox pens are nothing like Virginia’s traditional hunting practices, and by revealing fox penning for what it truly is – a blood sport – my legislator seemed receptive.”
Humane lobby days will take place in several states over the next few months, with the next today in Washington, where the spotlight will be on proposed legislation including:
- Bill to ban the routine docking of dairy cows’ tails.
- HB 1201/SB 5203 – prohibits the selling, bartering or auctioning of animals upon certain public property or upon certain private property open to the public.
- HB 1202/SB 5204 – modifies animal cruelty provisions relating to the crimes of animal cruelty in the first and second degree, animal fighting, and leaving and/or confining an animal in a motor vehicle or certain enclosed spaces.
- SB 5081 – strengthens the state ban on shark fins and derivative products.
For more details on your state’s upcoming Humane Lobby Day and to sign up to attend, please visit the ASPCA’s Advocacy Center.