Good Things Come To Those Who Wait – So Long As They Outwork The Devils While They Wait

Guest blog by Senator Roy Afflerbach, Ret.Powerful4

Thanks to patient, steadfast, relentless repetition and perseverance by animal advocates during the 2013/14 Pennsylvania legislative session, more than two-dozen bills favorable to animals were introduced. One of the strongest bills passed this session provides for the cost of care for animals rescued from cruelty and it was signed into law.  Two others affecting the protection of police dogs also passed.  Two more bills,  the bill to end live pigeon shoots and the slaughter of dogs and cats for human consumption as well as the animal fighting paraphernalia bill made it to the final steps and were almost voted on before the end of October, and every bill that negatively affected animals except one has died. This has been no easy task.

Some may ask, why haven’t more bills passed? Why is it taking so long? What is the legislature doing?

These are not uncommon questions as people look to Pennsylvania’s full-time legislature for action on a variety of issues. Unfortunately, many people consider action to be the passage of new legislation, forgetting that others consider preventing the passage of new legislation to be action. The goal of these individuals is to contain or reduce the influence of government. Often, they consider the passage of legislation to be an expansion of government and they will do whatever they can do to prevent action.

Some people may suggest that the struggle to pass legislation is a contemporary phenomenon. It is not. The writings of the founders of both the Pennsylvania Constitution and the United States Constitution indicate that they deliberately designed our democratic system of government to be arduous in the passage of legislation to avoid knee-jerk reaction to a temporary public outcry. Their writings further indicate that the founders felt legislation with merit would survive the hurdles and eventually rise to the level of passage into law.

Consequently, on average only 4% to 8% of the all bills introduced in the Pennsylvania House of Representatives and the Senate combined become law in a 2-year legislative session. In the present 2013-2014 session, 263 or 7% of the 3816 bills introduced have become law. In the 2011-2012 session, 285 or 8% of the 4310 bills introduced became law, and in the 2009-2010 session only 181 or 4% of the 4274 bills introduced became law.

Moreover, fully 100 to 120 bills passed in each session (50 to 60 bills per year) are “mandatory” bills. They are necessary to keep the state, local governments, and school districts operating, or are necessary to meet federal requirements. In the 2009-2010 session those “mandatory” bills represented more than half of the bills that became law.

Because of the small number of bills that are actually passed in a session, the question becomes not “why hasn’t this bill passed,” but rather “how do we move a bill ahead of the other 92% to 96% that won’t be considered?” It will never be easy to convince 102 of 203 personalities in the House or 26 of 50 members of the Senate, in addition to a Governor and his/her administration, to support new legislation – especially if it is opposed by powerful interest groups. But with patience, perseverance, relentless repetition of taking the issue to the legislature, and occasionally replacing recalcitrant legislators or Governors through the election process, passage can be achieved.

In short, success in the legislative arena is not for the impatient or faint of heart. It is most often a marathon, not a sprint. Individuals or organizations that recognize this fact and approach legislation with disciplined staying power are the most likely to succeed! That is why bills to promote the compassionate treatment of animals are in position to become part of next session’s 7%!

Roy Afflerbach

 

 

In addition to being a co- founder and Treasurer of Humane PA PAC, Senator Roy C. Afflerbach, Ret. is founder and President of The Afflerbach Group, LLC.

Posted in Animal cruelty, Legislation, Pennsylvania Law and animals, Pennsylvania legislation, Pennsylvania Politics, Uncategorized

Top 5 Ways to Give Animals a Voice at the Polls

Election Day presents great opportunities to give animals a voice in Harrisburg, and give visibility to the growing bloc of people for whom the treatment of animals is an important election issue.  Candidates work the polls all day and are eager to talk to voters- especially right before you enter your voting site!   This is a time that they WANT your vote and will rosebudWANT to talk to you.  If the candidates are not at a particular voting location, often their best volunteers, friends and relatives are and they can pass messages on or even get a candidate on the phone for a quick chat with you.

1. VOTE–and don’t forget to take your Humane PA endorsement list with you!

2. Make it a mission–Spend time talking to the candidates if they are at your polling location as well as every campaign volunteer to let them know that you care about the treatment of animals and are there to vote to help elect humane candidates.  A quick conversation  helps legislators and candidates know that we get out the vote!

3.  Talk up Endorsement–If you do not have an endorsed candidate – especially if they are the incumbent – tell them we would like to be able to endorse next time-but we need their cooperation!

4. You are there to help–If you have a good candidate, volunteer to help his/her campaign and perhaps even work the polls on Election Day.

5. Share Humane PA GOTV messages–check and share endorsement lists throughout the day to remind your friends to vote!  There are candidates running for office who will fight animal cruelty and abuse, and stand up for the values of kindness and compassion.

In order to have humane laws, we must elect humane lawmakers. Let’s win the day for animals on November 4!

Posted in 2014 Pennsylvania Election, Animal cruelty, Pennsylvania election, Pennsylvania Governor, Pennsylvania legislation, Pennsylvania Politics, Voter scorecard

Announcing Humane PA’s 2014 Endorsements

Humane PA is pleased to present Humane PA’s 2014 candidate endorsements  for Pennsylvania state offices in the upcoming election on November 4th.

In a recent statewide poll, 86 percent of Pennsylvania voters  support their legislator’s endorsed 2014efforts to ensure the humane treatment of animals. Our aim is to make sure that Pennsylvania voters who care about the treatment of animals know which candidates will support a humane agenda and deserve their vote at the polls!

How do we chose who to endorse?

Before we endorse candidates, we give them the opportunity to let us know where they stand on animal cruelty so we can measure their responses and commitment to stand strong for the humane treatment of animals against their opponent. Our endorsement process is not taken lightly and we spend a great deal of time reviewing and evaluating an incumbent candidate’s voting record and leadership on animal bills, including their behind the scenes efforts. Priority is always given to an incumbent with a perfect or good record – we stand by our friends, particularly those who are committed leaders in the fight against cruelty. We also ask every candidate – both incumbents and first time office seekers – to complete our endorsement survey as the survey responses are critical in determining which candidates will receive our endorsement. Our survey queries candidates on key pieces of pending animal legislation, both the bills that are easily supported as well as those that may face opposition. We also ask candidates to tell us about themselves, the role of animals in their lives and their feelings about how animals should be treated. If two non-incumbent candidates are equally qualified based on survey results, we conduct follow up calls, as well as consult with constituents in their districts who know them. Responses can be illuminating.  All responses are kept strictly confidential, and allow us to evaluate the level of commitment a candidate has to helping protect Pennsylvania’s animals from cruel treatment. We also take viability of candidates into account before endorsing.

We are fortunate this election in that many races are between strong, humane oriented candidates. In this election cycle, we actually have races where both new candidates answered equally well and we did something we don’t usually do – double endorsed!

We did not endorse in races where candidates did not respond to the survey or where the record and survey weighed fairly equal on the issues. *Please note, as a registered state political action committee, we only issue endorsements of candidates for state offices and make no endorsements for federal offices.

Because the legislative session is not yet over, and there may still be votes on animal bills, further evaluation may take place to add additional candidates to the list (let’s hope we don’t have to un-endorse).  Candidates may also still submit surveys and may be considered at the same time that further votes are evaluated.

Our goal is for the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania to be a kinder place for animals and for our legislature to pass appropriate laws to protect animals and eliminate cruelty. Thus, we encourage those who care deeply about these issues to consider and be guided by our endorsements, and to support groundfloorcandidates who will support a humane agenda. We also urge candidates who were not endorsed to improve their records next session!  We thank all of the candidates who took the time to complete our survey. Good luck to all of our Humane PA Endorsed Candidates!
2014 Endorsements  

Posted in 2014 Pennsylvania Election, Pennsylvania election, Pennsylvania Governor, Pennsylvania Law and animals, Pennsylvania Politics, Political Action Committees

Take the HB 1750 Challenge!

By Dawn Heinbach, contributing blogger

One thing is certain about the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge: it is a complete success, generating over $100 million in donations for ALS nonprofit organizations and, more importantly, raising awareness about this devastating disease.

Photo credit: Liz Kearley

The HB 1750 Challenge is similar. It asks you to do something very simple to remind our state legislators how far our mutual work has brought HB 1750, the bill to prohibit the slaughter of dogs and cats for human consumption and also finally ending cruel live pigeon shoot contests.

Between now and September 15th, when our state legislators return to Harrisburg, write a note to your legislators about HB 1750 and mail it to their local office. If your senator and representative support the bill, express your thanks and let them know that you expect this bill to be brought to the floor for a vote during the Fall session. Your note can consist of just a few sentences, or it can be longer. If your legislator does not support the bill, you can urge them to do so and explain why it’s important. Ask your friends and family members to commit ten minutes and 49 cents to send their thoughts. If each person reading this sends one thank-you note, and persuades one friend to send a thank-you note, the result is an impressive stack of mail to our legislators.

There are several reasons why hand-written notes catch the eye of a legislator. Today’s technology has rendered hand-written notes almost obsolete – which is exactly why such a thing will stick in a politician’s mind. Before computers became an integral part of our daily lives, people used the mail to to communicate their thoughts and desires. If people felt strongly about an issue or an incident, they would write a letter and mail it to the appropriate party. Many huge mail bags would arrive at a celebrity’s or public figure’s office, and several people would be assigned the job of reading the incoming mail. A hand-written note can have a tremendous impact. There is more effort involved; rather than simply clicking “send,” the person must buy a stamp and mail the note at the local post office. This can indicate to the recipient the sender’s extra efforts in trying to be heard.

Of course, as technology has advanced, the ways to communicate with our legislators have expanded and there is also something to be said for opening your e-mail and finding it filled with requests to support a bill. A letter delivered by the postal service, though? That is a bit harder to ignore. It is a physical object that takes up space, and if enough of them arrive at the same location, something will have to be done with them or they will pile up quite high. It is also not as easy to dispose of a letter without opening it. The intrigue of an envelope addressed to you from another person is very compelling.

Now is the time to remind not only our legislators, but other Pennsylvania citizens, about this extremely important bill. Do you think we can do it? We can – but only if we all put pen to paper and make our voices heard.

Action alert: Support HB 1750 – to End 2 Shockingly Cruel Forms of Animal Abuse

Sign up for Call-in-Day to pass HB 1750

DawnHeinbach 2014It took awhile for Dawn Heinbach to figure out what she wanted to be when she grew up, but during her two-year tenure at Reading Area Community College, she finally realized her passion. Dawn served as Editor-in-Chief of the Front Street Journal, the school’s student newspaper, and her creative work has been published in Legacy, RACC’s annual scholarly journal. She is a member of Phi Theta Kappa International Honor Society and the Society of Professional Journalists. A nontraditional full-time student, Dawn is currently pursuing a bachelor’s degree in Professional Writing at Kutztown University. She loves sharing people’s stories, struggles, and triumphs as a reminder that we are all connected by the same thread. Dawn also shares her writing talents to help make Pennsylvania a better place for animals by blogging for Humane PA PAC.

Posted in Animal cruelty, Community outreach, Legislation, Pennsylvania legislation | Tagged

Who is Humane PA?

Blog by Humane PA President, Elissa Katz 

humane paWho is Humane PA?  In a word – YOU!  Regardless of age, race, socio-economic background, religion, political allegiance, or any of the other traits we use to define and distinguish ourselves, there is a core commonality binding us all – our heartfelt belief that animals deserve to be treated humanely.  Regardless of our differences, we are united in the conviction that there is no place for cruelty to animals in our state.  Our shared belief and conviction are the pillars of Humane PA PAC, and each one of us is critical to ensuring that Pennsylvania is increasingly humane.

Humane PA is now over 31,000 Pennsylvania voters strong – and that is just on social media.  Those numbers, as impressive as they are, omit the scores of individuals who are not on Facebook , Twitter or other social media, yet are working with us to improve the lives of animals through public policy.  In fact, we are hard pressed to think of anyone – other than a small number of callous extremists – who does not believe that animals should be treated humanely and that cruelty is intolerable.  It is up to each one of us to increase the strength and political power of the animal vote by enlisting our friends, neighbors, family, co-workers, animal rescue groups and virtually everyone we encounter – to join with us under the umbrella of Humane PA and to turn Humane PA into THE political powerhouse in our state.

non partisonI know that there are a variety of non-animal related issues of concern to all of us, and that we may stand on opposing sides – but I also know that when it is a matter concerning animals, we put aside our differences to stand strong against cruelty.  And, regardless where a candidate stands on various other issues, there is one thing that we should all expect – a commitment to the humane treatment of animals.  A candidate who does not believe in the humane treatment of animals does not belong in office, it’s as simple as that.

Who is Humane PA?  We all are!  In preparation for the fall election and the resumption of the legislative session, let’s work to increase our formal numbers by inviting others to our Facebook page, to sign up for our e-newsletter, and to contact their legislators seeking support of pending humane bills.  And, as campaign season ramps up, let us all remind the candidates in our respective districts that we expect them to join with us and to work hard and pass laws to create a more humane PA.

Humane PA PAC’s Mission Statement

katz_fullElissa B. Katz is the President of Humane PA and a partner in the law firm of Meranze, Katz, Gaudioso & Newlin, P.C. in Philadelphia. She is a regular volunteer with the Philadelphia Animal Welfare Society (PAWS), assisting with cat care and adoption applications at an adoption site.  She is also a board member of The Humane League and Woodstock Farm Animal Sanctuary.

Posted in 2014 Pennsylvania Election, Animal cruelty, Community outreach, Legislation, Pennsylvania Politics, Political Action Committees, Volunteers

Facebook Basics for Making a Difference

Contributing blogger Dawn Heinbach

facebookThose animal lovers who have been paying attention to the status of HB 1750 already know the importance of contacting their legislators to express their expectations of support. You make the calls when asked, send the emails, and follow-up with your thanks.

What about those people who may also support such a bill, but aren’t sure quite what to do or say? Contacting a state representative for the first time can be intimidating. You can help a hesitant person take their first steps to becoming politically active.

More than just a social media platform where people share pictures and status updates, Facebook is a powerful tool that you can use to spread news and gain support for animal cruelty bills. Just 30 minutes spent contacting your Facebook friends about important legislation can have a huge impact on the success of these bills.

Here are some tips to make sure that you are utilizing Facebook to the maximum, and for encouraging your Facebook friends to get involved:

Make sure you are getting all of the notifications from the page.

  • On the Humane PA PAC page, there is a button at the bottom right of the cover photo that says “Like,” or “Liked” if you already like the page.FacebookBasics Photo3
  • After liking the page, click on “Liked,” and a menu drops down.
  • The first choice listed is “Get notifications.” Click on this, and a check mark will appear. Your news feed will now include all status updates sent by this page.

Invite like-minded friends to “like” the Human PA PAC page.

  • On the left side of the page is a box that shows how many likes the page has. Underneath this, there is a link that says, “Invite your friends to like this page.”FacebookBasics Photo 1-1
  • Click on that link, and it expands to show some of your friends.
  • Click on the link at the bottom of this window that says, “See all,” and you can then scroll to see all of your Facebook friends.
  • To the right of their name is an “Invite” button. Click on it, and your friend will receive an invitation to like the page.

Ask your Facebook friends to call their legislators.

  • Some people don’t mind when you share posts directly to their page, but others do not appreciate it. So rather than sharing a post by Humane PA PAC on your friend’s page, send it in a private message. This way, you don’t risk offending them.
  • You can share a post that asks people to call their legislators, complete with the link that allows them to look up their Senators or Representatives.
  • Click on the icon that looks like a caption box at the top right on Facebook.
  • Click on “Send new message.”FacebookBasics Photo2-1
  • Start typing a friend’s name and your friends with similar spelling will pop up.
  • Highlight the name of the friend you want to receive the message, and click on it.
  • It is possible to send one message to multiple friends, but this is not recommended. In group conversations, every time someone comments on the message, all of the recipients receive the comment notification until they “leave the conversation.” This can be annoying.
  • Even though it takes a little more time, it is better to send messages to each of your friends individually. This way, you can also address them personally in your message by using their name.
  • In your Facebook message, explain what you are asking your friends to do. You can let them know that when calling their legislators, they need only state their name and address, and that they want Senator “Smith” to support HB 1750 with the amendment to end live pigeon shoots. Let them know that sometimes the call is answered by voice mail. It is still important to leave a message, stating the same information.

Try it! Invite at least five friends to “like” the Humane PA PAC page. The more people who stay informed, the better our chances of getting HB 1750 to the floor for a vote in the fall.

DawnHeinbach 2014It took awhile for Dawn Heinbach to figure out what she wanted to be when she grew up, but during her two-year tenure at Reading Area Community College, she finally realized her passion. Dawn served as Editor-in-Chief of the Front Street Journal, the school’s student newspaper, and her creative work has been published in Legacy, RACC’s annual scholarly journal. She is a member of Phi Theta Kappa International Honor Society and the Society of Professional Journalists. A nontraditional full-time student, Dawn is currently pursuing a bachelor’s degree in Professional Writing at Kutztown University. She loves sharing people’s stories, struggles, and triumphs as a reminder that we are all connected by the same thread. Dawn also shares her writing talents to help make Pennsylvania a better place for animals by blogging for Humane PA PAC.

Posted in Community outreach, Facebook activism

Keith Mohler – an Unsung Hero

Amy Worden writes the Philly Dawg blog for The Philadelphia Inquirer. With her permission, we are reposting her moving tribute to an unsung hero in the animal community – Keith Mohler. Among the many memories we have of Keith and his outstanding animal protection work, those of us who were there at the very beginning of Humane PA PAC may remember that Keith, who was a gifted jazz musician, played at the launching ceremony.

Keith Mohler, a voice for Pennsylvania animals, dies at 62

Keith Mohler, a towering figure in animal protection in Pennsylvania for a quarter century, died Tuesday of complications from lung cancer. He was 62.keith m

Mohler spent most of his career as a humane society police officer investigating cases of animal abuse in the stockyards, puppy mills and farms of Lancaster County.

For 25 years he represented various organizations on behalf of animals in cruelty cases. Mohler was known for building meticulous cases that led to convictions and won him the respect of animal welfare advocates, district attorneys, local judges and the farming community.

By day Mohler responded to reports of animal abuse involving creatures of all sizes from pigeons and puppies to sheep and steers. By night he was a well-known jazz bassist, a fixture in area clubs.

Since last year Mohler had been employed by the Pennsylvania SPCA to handle cruelty cases in Lancaster County where Mohler had worked for 15 years in a similar role for the Humane League of Lancaster County.

“The animals have lost a strong and unique voice,” said Jerry Buckley, chief executive officer of the Pennsylvania SPCA, which hired Mohler after the Humane League laid off its law enforcement staff in a budget cut.

“Keith exemplified the kind of officer we all aspire to be, balancing our compassion for the animals with our compassion for people,” said Nicole Wilson, Mohler’s supervisor at the PSPCA. “He helped animals across Pennsylvania but the animals and people of Lancaster County were closest to his heart. For Keith, this wasn’t just a job it was part of him.”

Mohler made his mark decades ago taking action against horrific cruelty at the Lancaster Stockyards and infamous Hegins pigeon shoot.

“He was a pioneer in using laws to protect farm animals in the modern era,” said Gene Baur, president of the Farm Sanctuary, who worked with Mohler to improve conditions in the Lancaster Stockyards in the 1980s.

Baur said Farm Sanctuary incorporated in Pennsylvania and employed Mohler in order to focus on cruelty at the stockyards, at one time the largest stockyards east of the Mississippi River.

It was Mohler’s pursuit of a case involving an injured but still living sheep thrown on a “dead pile” of livestock that led to the first-ever conviction of a stockyard employee in Pennsylvania – and likely anywhere, said Baur.

In the early 1990s, when there was no formal training for humane society police officers and there were cases of officers abusing their authority, agriculture interests mounted a campaign to exempt farm animals from cruelty laws in Pennsylvania.

Mohler played a key role in crafting a compromise in 1994 that led to formal training for all humane society police officers, said Anne Irwin, vice president of the Federated Humane Societies of Pennsylvania, which now trains officers throughout the state.

“He was a vegan who could go into a working farm or an auction barn and talk practically and unsentimentally about the animals there,” she said.

In the mid-1990s, Mohler became the first plaintiff in a court case against the operators of the infamous Hegins pigeon shoot in Schuylkill County – a four-day long mass slaughter of pigeons, a gory spectacle that made national headlines – that would lead to the event’s demise.

“The Pennsylvania animal community has lost a true champion and unsung hero in the fight against animal cruelty,” said Heidi Prescott, senior vice president of campaigns and outreach for the Humane Society of the United States and a longtime friend of Mohler’s. “From pigeon shoots, to puppy mills, to farm animals, no cruelty case was too big or too small for Keith Mohler to tackle.”

Soft-spoken and limelight averse, Mohler was a supremely dedicated law enforcement officer who never let the emotion of the cruelty he witnessed color his ability to deal with farmers and other animal owners, say those who knew him.

When the Humane League announced it would no longer employ any humane officers, and laid off Mohler and others, he continued to handle cases on a volunteer basis.

Bob Baker, executive director of the Missouri Alliance for Animals and former Pennsylvania puppy miller investigator, called Mohler’s death a great loss for animals especially in Lancaster County.

“If an animal was in distress in Lancaster County, you could always count on Keith,” said Baker, who related a story of their first meeting.

I first met Keith many years ago when I made a visit at night to the New Holland Auction and discovered an ailing cow that was abandoned in the dead pile. I made a dozen calls before being referred to Keith. Despite being late on a Sunday, Keith had a veterinarian and the police out to the barn in a matter of 30 minutes and the cow was able to be saved. Keith will be missed by all who care about animals and most definitely all the animals in Lancaster County.

Baur described Mohler as “very pragmatic and realistic”.

“You do what you can do when you do it and hopefully change how we relate to animals, including farm animals,” he said.

But when an animal was in distress Mohler went above and beyond to rescue it, said Baur.

“One time there was a report of a goat running wild in Lancaster and people said if no one captured it they were going to shoot it,” recalled Baur. “We got a tranquilizer gun but it went up a tree over a river and ended up falling into the river. Keith just went right into the river to save goat. I went too, but he was out there first.”

Amy_WordenAmy Worden is a politics and government reporter for the Inquirer. In that capacity she has explored a range of animal protection issues from dog kennel law improvements and banning horse slaughter to the comeback of peregrine falcons and pigeon hunts. From hamsters to horses, animals have always been part of her life.

Posted in Uncategorized

Lobbyist…not a four letter word!

Guest editorial by Sarah Speed

Lobbying…in a time of government gridlock, it feels like the root of all evil doesn’t it? Imagine slick haired, shiny shoed salesmen stalking the halls of the legislature preying upon good intentions and campaign promises, vying for the biggest yacht, the priciest dinner, and the deepest pockets!

rosie4The truth is, a lobbyist, especially a cause lobbyist is far more likely to look more like me – slightly stressed out, wearing a mix of Ann Taylor and Target, and popping into offices for appointments that have been rescheduled a dozen times.  I’m armed with fact sheets, bill analysis, and gentle reminders of goodwill generated by good bills.

Our system is complex and although special interests certainly play a serious role in gaining access to legislators, it is far from being the end of the story.  In a given session, legislators may consider 2,000 bills and be asked to vote on more than 400 of them.  No one could possibly get up to speed on all of the nuances of so many issues.  That’s where the information I can provide about the bills and the effect they will have comes in.  Many legislators have grown to depend on our expertise.

Lobbyists can build trust by providing accurate and timely information on legislative issues.  A good lobbyist will take the time to get to know each legislator and provide guidance and support on tough issues.  A cause lobbyist probably doesn’t have a big bank account and all of the associated perks of a large lobbying firm.  A good lobbyist makes appointments, makes friends, and quietly accomplishes progress on behalf of a particular cause.  That’s what makes a good lobbyist…but an even better lobbyist is YOU.  That’s right, YOU.  There are many types of lobbyists, some work for multiple clients, some work for just one issue or one company, but the most effective lobbyist is the citizen lobbyist.

The citizen lobbyist is someone who takes the time to educate their legislators on the issues that matter to them.  The citizen lobbyist may not have every answer, but that doesn’t stand in the way of making sure their legislator knows what issues matter and why.  The citizen lobbyist doesn’t have any other agenda, doesn’t necessarily have a campaign donation, and doesn’t start out expecting much but realizes that unless they speak up, their legislator may never know how much their constituents care.  Remember you, a member of the general public elected this legislator.  Even if you didn’t vote for them in the last election, they are well aware that another election is always around the corner and they want to know what matters to the people who put them in office.

We can all be citizen lobbyists, each time you pick up the phone, each time you respond to a Humane PA alert, or any action alert concerning animals, each time you meet with your legislators and each time you attend a fundraiser you are one step closer to being an awesome lobbyist.  You are one step closer to being someone who influences the future of animal protection and the lives of thousands of animals.  I work hard as a lobbyist, I am honest and transparent, and I provide the best information available.  Without you, our grassroots army, nothing would get done to protect animals.  As a lobbyist, I am relying on you to contact your legislators, to bring issues that matter to your legislator’s attention and to set the stage for the importance of the information I am about to provide.  Together as a team, a professional lobbyist and citizen lobbyist have the power to enact great change on behalf of animals in PA.

HeadshotSarah Speed serves as the legislative chair of the Animal Law Committee of the Pennsylvania Bar Association, board of Pennsylvania Animal Response Team,  and is also the Pennsylvania State Director for the Humane Society of the United States.  In that capacity, she works on a range of animal protection issues in Pennsylvania as well as lobbying the legislature on animal bills.

 

Posted in Animal cruelty, Animal law, non profit lobbying, Pennsylvania Law and animals, Pennsylvania legislation, Uncategorized | Tagged , ,

Humane PA’s 2014 Candidate Survey Launched

logo00Humane PA, Pennsylvania’s Political Voice for Animals, is committed to passing stronger anti-cruelty laws in Pennsylvania and the way we approach this important task is to is to make sure that we elect humane leaders.  The Humane PA 2014 Candidate Survey, which helps us determine which candidates will receive Humane PA’s support has just been posted and is ready for candidates to take!

Humane PA 2014 Candidate Survey
*Please note this survey is for candidates only.

Humane PA will be issuing endorsements for the General Election in November. Before we endorse candidates, we give them the opportunity to let us know where they stand on animal cruelty so we can measure their responses and commitment to stand strong for the humane treatment of animals against their opponent(s). Our endorsement process is not taken lightly and we spend a great deal of time reviewing and evaluating an incumbent candidate’s voting record and leadership on animal bills. We also ask every candidate – both incumbents and first time office seekers – to complete our survey as the survey responses are critical in determining which candidates will receive our endorsement. Our survey queries candidates on key pieces of pending animal legislation, both the bills that are easily supported as well as those that may face opposition. We also ask candidates to tell us about themselves, the role of animals in their lives and their feelings about how animals should be treated. Past responses have been quite illuminating! All responses are kept strictly confidential, and allow us to evaluate the level of commitment a candidate has to helping protect Pennsylvania’s animals from cruel treatment. If you want your candidate to be considered for an endorsement please send them this announcement to get a jump on our endorsement process!

In a recent statewide poll, 86 percent of Pennsylvania voters polled support their legislators efforts to ensure humane treatment of animals. Our aim is to make sure that Pennsylvania voters who care about the treatment of animals know which candidates will support a humane agenda and deserve their vote at the polls!

* Candidates who took the survey before the Primary Election do not need to retake the survey unless your answers have changed.

 

Posted in 2014 Pennsylvania Election, Pennsylvania election, Pennsylvania Governor, Pennsylvania Politics

What Animal Shelters can do to Influence Policy

Guest blog by  Joe Geiger

Legitimate animal shelters do a great job when it comes to rescuing and caring for animals. But one of the most effective ways to protect animals is through policy. It is time for people who love animals to step up and engage the political process.

There are perceptions and realities that get in the way of animal lovers getting engaged. They may think: I am so small relative to the process – how could I possibly make a difference, as a 501 (c) (3) I don’t think I am permitted to get involved, the process is too complicated and I don’t know how.

Those are just reasons to not get involved. Every piece of social legislation passed in the United States has been the result of a passionate and caring person or persons getting involved in the process. The good news is that the law allows nonprofit organizations listed as charities to lobby.

So what can you do? First I think it important to say that you must be credible in your approach. Organizations bring out the most shocking and grotesque pictures to make a point.  Groups lobbying the cause can’t get their act together resulting in a confused message making it easy to get dismissed. Most legislators are animal lovers. Take advantage of that. You know more about your issues than they do. Where do you start?

Here is a top ten list:

1. Get to know your elected officials and establish a relationship with them before there is a crisis.
2. Learn a little about the legislative process – there are better times to break the ice – June is budget crunch time – this is not the right time.
3. Visit your elected officials in their home district offices – they are very distracted and busy when at the capitol.
4. Keep your communications concise, credible and have a call to action.
5. Not all elected officials are equal – know who chairs committees that address your issues as well as leadership – majority also matters but don’t ignore minority party officials.
6. Understand that the public policy process is never perfect – the outcomes are survivors of compromise – take what you can and build on it
7. Understand how much your initiatives will cost taxpayers or save tax payer dollars – government money is tight.
8. If you are representing a 501(c) (3), you are not permitted to engage in election activities – you must stay neutral in your organization approach.
9. The media can be a good ally – use them wisely.
10. Don’t embarrass a public official publicly – you need their support.

JoeJoe Geiger is the former executive director at the Pennsylvania Association of Nonprofit Organizations where he served as an effective public policy officer for 18 years.

 

 

For more information on effective lobbying, check out Citizen Lobbying Tips to Give Animals a Voice in Harrisburg  

Read about why social causes need political action committees: Making Animal Protection a Political Priority

Posted in Animal shelters, Legislation, non profit lobbying