Most people care about companion animals and want to protect them from cruelty and exploitation, and with the explosion of mobile technology and online social media, advocating for stronger animal-protection laws has never been easier. The ASPCA stresses the importance of not being shy about making your views known. Your legislators are on social media, and you can be sure that they pay attention to what the voters are saying, but personal messages– a phone call, an e-mail, or snail-mail message—is more likely to make them sit up and take notice. First impressions count, so when writing to legislators and government officials, be professional, and do your homework BEFORE you write. Know which political body handles which areas: for example, don’t ask a state legislator to introduce federal legislation, or a civilian member of a government advisory board to file a bill. Another effective avenue to share your views is to submit a letter-to-the-editor of your local newspaper. Whatever method you choose, don’t forget…
- Be specific
- Persuade with logic, not emotion…be sure your facts are accurate.
- Be brief…don’t ramble or get sidetracked…focus on your message
- Check your spelling and grammar!
- Be polite and respectful
- Thank the recipient for his/her consideration of your views
Animal welfare issues are important concerns in every state, and it is important to keep current on any legislation that may improve the lives of companion animals. If you live in Iowa, we suggest you join Iowa Voters for Companion Animals, an all-volunteer group working to address issues associated with Iowa’s large-scale commercial breeding facilities known as puppy mills.
Iowa still has the second largest number of puppy mills in the country, with the state being home to more than 200 of these commercial dog-breeding mills. Ranked among the top 4 dog-breeding states in the nation, Iowa is the ONLY one without state-level oversight of those facilities, which means that animal cruelty laws aren’t applied to these facilities. Thousands of dogs are currently suffering in horrific conditions without medical care or social interaction, in small, cramped, wire-bottom cages…many without adequate protection from the winter’s bitter cold. (If you are unfamiliar with puppy mills, google Puppy Mills/ASPCA).
Legislation is moving through Iowa’s Capitol right now that could provide additional protections for the 15,000 adult dogs in Iowa’s USDA kennels. This legislation is aimed at protecting dogs in puppy mills, and will not affect hobby breeders. Iowa residents are urged to contact state legislators to support this important, commonsense legislation. Please visit www.iafriends.org to get more information and to sign up to help Iowa dogs. (And a note from animal lovers in other states wouldn’t hurt either.)
Regardless of where you live, it is important to become better educated about the plight of animals in your state. The more you learn, the more you will become an advocate for the companion animals who have no voice, no choice. Some problems are due to apathy or ignorance; for others it is unabashed cruelty, but as you become more aware of what is going on, hopefully you will think carefully about the choices you make. You choose your friends, your doctors, your churches. You choose how you spend your money. You choose your legislators, and perhaps you need to let them know that mistreatment and abuse of animals matters to you, and that you expect these issues to be addressed. Companion animals deserve compassionate care and respect, and it is not up to “someone else” to be an advocate for them. If it’s to be, it’s up to you and me, not someone else.
We pray for our friends the animals, especially for animals who are suffering; for animals that are overworked, underfed and cruelly treated… for any that are hunted or lost or deserted or frightened or hungry; for all that must be put death. We entreat for them all Thy mercy and pity, and for those who deal with them, we ask a heart of compassion and gentle hands and kindly words. Make us to be true friends to animals—Albert Schweitzer