The Race For Pennsylvania Governor-Four Candidates Take a Stand Against Animal Cruelty

gov4Election season is underway and over half of Pennsylvania’s gubernatorial candidates have issued position statements on animals! With your help, Humane PA has put animals on the radar screen of a whole new group of politicians. The four candidates who have posted position statements on animals so far are: Rob McCord, John Hanger, Tom Wolf and Allyson Schwartz. *

In a race filled with this many candidates, several hundred votes could make a difference in who wins and who loses. The candidates know this and will be much more receptive to questions and eager to win support from strong constituencies, such as the animal vote, so this is a good time to make sure that a candidate understands that the humane treatment of animals is an issue that Pennsylvania voters care about.

How can you help make the animal vote relevant to the gubernatorial candidates who have neglected to post a position statement on animal issues? By inquiring about their positions on humane legislation and how strong their commitment is to oppose animal cruelty. You can also ask for their position on specific pending legislation – the list is on our website under Current Legislation. You can do it through e-mail, Facebook posts, or by calling the campaign office.  Below is a list of present candidates with their Facebook pages hyper-linked and their websites listed. Their websites will have additional contact information.hanger

Here is a sample e-mail or Facebook request: “I am a Pennsylvania voter who cares about animals and I evaluate my choices of whom I will vote for based on their commitment to wolfgovfighting animal cruelty in our state.  Attached is a list of current legislation that I am concerned about.  I would like to know what your position is and I also suggest adding a section to your website about your policies that will affect animals.  Thank you so much.”  Please share with us any response you receive and remember that every commitment we get from a candidate for the primary election is a commitment we have for the November election! Thanks for your help in giving animals a voice in Harrisburg!

 

 

Posted in 2014 Pennsylvania Election, Animal cruelty, Legislation, Pennsylvania election, Pennsylvania Governor, Politics | 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. We have already started receiving requests for endorsements from candidates this year. 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 Primary election in May and 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!

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

Investing at the Ground Floor

Guest Blog by Roy Afflerbach

invest.jpgEver wish you could get in on the ground floor of an investment…and that you could do so by investing your free time instead of your money?

That opportunity is here!  The most effective way to assure compassionate treatment of animals is to elect legislators who think as you do.  2014 provides that opportunity!

Those of you who have heard me speak about how to influence public policy changes have heard me say there are only two kinds of people in elective office: Your friend or someone else’s friend. 2014 provides the opportunity to make a friend of a legislator by getting in on the ground floor of their campaign.

Every candidate for the House or Senate must obtain several hundred signatures of voters living in their district and registered in their party in order to place the candidate’s name upon the election ballot. Volunteers who help to obtain those signatures are particularly valued…and remembered…by candidates because they have only three weeks to gather the required number of signatures. This is especially stressful for first time candidates who may not have many petition circulators at hand.

The first day to circulate candidate petitions is February 18th. Between now and then:

  1.  Learn who are the candidates in your legislative and senatorial district.
  2.  Ask each of them for their views on specific animal issues (refer to the Current Legislation page on the Humane PA website for this information).
  3. Offer to help gather candidate nomination petition signatures for the candidate you wish to support. The candidate’s campaign staff (which may be entirely volunteers) will provide you with the specific information you will need to help gather signatures. The more you gather, the higher you will move on the candidate’s “friend” list.

Have you ever considered running for office?

If there is not a candidate whom you can support, consider running yourself or help to recruit a candidate who supports the compassionate treatment of animals. We should never allow an election to go uncontested. Having a candidate on the ballot provides a platform from which to advocate on behalf of animals…and, upset victories do occur if the candidate has roots in the community.

The opportunities are magnified in 2014 because all of the districts have been newly reapportioned and many voters do not have a standing relationship with the incumbents. Now is the time to seize the opportunity to invest on the ground floor of making friends with legislators!!

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Senator Roy Afflerbach, Ret.

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.

Addition voter resources here: Pennsylvania Voter Resources – Election Information

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

We Resolve – to Make a Difference!

2014resolveAs 2014 begins, we renew our resolve to make a meaningful difference in public policy in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania so that animals will be spared from cruel acts and treated humanely. We want our New Year’s resolutions to result in positive change for animals by using our time and resources as efficiently and effectively as possible. The officers, coordinators and advocates of Humane PA have offered many resolutions for 2014 – and here are our top 10! We’re hoping that you too will incorporate most, if not all, of these resolutions into your own lives so that 2014 will see more humane legislation and legislators, more influence of the animal vote and more positive change for animals.

  1.  We will respond to every action alert. When a bill is moving, a telephone call or email to a legislator’s office is extremely important. Our call may determine their vote.
  2. We will share Humane PA posts. In order to help engage more advocates in public policy, increase the visibility of the animal vote, we resolve to share posts on our own Facebook pages as well as on the pages of friends and groups we belong to.
  3. We will thank our legislators each time they cosponsor or support a humane bill. It is important to let them know that we are watching and we appreciate when they vote humanely.
  4. We will ask a candidate running for office his or her position on humane issues and let them know that his/her response will determine whether we vote for that candidate – or the opponent!
  5. We will volunteer for the campaigns of candidates who have demonstrated that they can be counted on to be a strong voice for animals. If we want a humane legislature, we have to help make it happen!
  6. We will recruit friends, family, coworkers, and everyone else we know who cares about animals to get involved in public policy by “liking” Humane PA on Facebook, signing up to get the Humane PA e-newsletter and visiting the Humane PA website.
  7. We will read and share Humane PA blogs and e-newsletters which are full of valuable tips, so that we can be the most effective citizen lobbyists possible.
  8. We will table at community events to educate our local neighborhoods about humane legislation to increase involvement in public policy.
  9. We will take every action available to us to pass the bill to end live pigeon shoots. For 25 years the legislature has avoided this issue with the result that countless numbers of animals have suffered. 2014 must be the year for a successful vote and for this terrible cruelty to be brought to an end in our state.
  10. We will remind ourselves everyday that one person can make a difference for animals and our voices matter. My phone call, email, visit, or letter can be what influences my legislator to support a piece of humane legislation or oppose a bad bill.

These resolutions are easily doable. Many of our resolutions can be fulfilled in two minutes – 2 minute actions that can yield huge results! We have already seen tangible proof that our actions are impacting the political climate: A record number of animal related bills were introduced in 2013; the numbers of co-sponsors for humane legislation are increasing; candidates are issuing position statements on the humane treatment of animals; legislators are posting animal concerns and events on their Facebook pages and websites; legislators are contacting many of you, their constituents, to ask your position on bills; the list goes on and on, demonstrating that your voice, and ours, matter.
hny22014 has enormous potential to improve the lives of animals – the pending humane bills can be passed and signed into law – and the bad bills defeated, we can elect a more humane legislature in the November general election, we can grow the ranks of Humane PA so that every lawmaker in the state understands that their voters care deeply about the humane treatment of animals and expect their elected officials to do so also. We hope you will incorporate our 10 resolutions into your daily lives to help create as much positive change for animals as possible in 2014. Happy New Year!

Posted in Animal cruelty, Animal Law, Pennsylvania election, Pennsylvania legislation, Pennsylvania Politics, Political Action Committees, Voters

Top 10 2013 Blogs from Humane PA

knowledge 3The Humane PA blog is intended to educate, inspire, train, engage and sometimes entertain Pennsylvanians who care about animals, and our readers sure are a diverse group! Some members appreciate tips on effectively using their time to make a difference for animals, some like good news, some like an in depth look at the growing importance of politicizing animal advocacy, and some like compelling information. Humane PA has been blessed this year with a number of wonderful guest bloggers. Looking back over 2013, we are sharing the top 10  based on the number of clicks on the blog.

Top 10 Blogs for 2013 (in order):

Sign up to follow the Humane PA Blog at the top right-hand side of this page! Happy New Year!

Posted in Animal cruelty, Legislation, Pennsylvania election, Pennsylvania Governor, Pennsylvania legislation, Pennsylvania Politics, Political Action Committees

2013 – The Year in Review

Year in Review.jpgWhat a year 2013 has been! A year of growth. Of hard work. Of victories. Of a record number of animal bills introduced. Our work is formidable. But bill by bill, legislator by legislator, with your help, our efforts of protecting animals from cruelty and suffering are paying off. We are gaining influence and momentum – and we are making a positive difference for animals in Pennsylvania. Here’s a look back at some of our accomplishments, setbacks, and what we face in 2014:

  • 2013 saw a record number of bills introduced, moving and still pending, and the passage of a major bill – the Cost of Care of Seized Animals Act – into law. The pending bills have the potential to protect and improve the lives of scores of animals, and we are hopeful, that with our continued hard work, many will move and be signed into law in 2014.
  • We were successful in halting the harmful and oppressive “Ag Gag” bill, but the animals suffered disappointing and cruel setbacks (boar and coyote bills)
  • The numbers of engaged humane voters in PA continues to grow! Between our Facebook, Twitter, website, and email lists, we are more than 27,000 members strong! Humane PA is now the largest, fastest growing and most interactive state political action committee for animals in the country.
  • 2013 saw Humane PA become a social media force, fulfilling our goals to engage more voters in public policy and to be an effective vehicle to communicate with animal advocates across the state. Our Facebook likes top 26,500, a growth of more than 85%, with a high level of engagement from members. We have more than 1500 dedicated Twitter followers – including many legislators! And, over 50,000 people visited our website in 2013 alone!
  • Humane PA was active in every corner of the state in 2013. We hosted 6 Happy Hours attended by both advocates and legislators, added new area coordinators to increase local community involvement, and tabled at many neighborhood fairs, conferences and events. We saw a surge in involvement and support by people who are politically active in the local committees of both parties, increasing the influence and strength of the humane message.
  • More and more, legislators and candidates are contacting US seeking information and our opinion about pending legislation and seeking endorsements.

Of course, while 2013 was a banner year, we cannot and will not rest on our laurels. There is so much that needs to be done next year, and we are already gearing up to break records in 2014 and striving to be the strongest force of engaged voters possible so that our legislature will understand that the humane treatment of animals must be actively pursued on all fronts. Our goals are high, but with your help, reachable:

  • Humane PA will increase our training and engagement of advocates through guest blogs, informative social media posts and community events. It is our goal that increasing numbers of people who care about animals will be confident and informed citizen lobbyists, which will increase the influence of the humane vote.
  • We will be issuing endorsements for the 2014 Elections. In doing so, we will review and weigh every vote on animal welfare legislation by current legislators. Those who have shown courage, compassion and leadership in championing animal protection laws will most likely get our endorsement; turncoats and those supporting animal abuse will not.
  • We will maximize our impact by evaluating the closest races where a humane legislator or candidate faces one with a bad voting record or stand – and try to make a meaningful difference in the election outcome.
  • We will update and publish our lauded PA Scorecard, which tracks votes on all animal welfare bills by legislators in both the House and Senate.

Good laws protect animals and have the potential to spare thousands of animals from suffering and harm. Humane PA provides a unique and voiceless3essential advocacy tool that other non-profits can’t. We are dedicated to grassroots and sustained political action to continue to pass and increase the number of laws that protect animals from cruelty and suffering. We are dedicated to a strong pro-animal presence at the ballot box in Pennsylvania. We hope you will join us as we continue to “Give Animals a Voice in Harrisburg” and strive to make our Commonwealth a more Humane PA.

Posted in Animal cruelty, Animal Law, Community outreach, Pennsylvania election, Pennsylvania legislation, Pennsylvania Politics, Political Action Committees, Voter scorecard

Have Your Legislators Been Naughty or Nice?

naughtyAs we close in on the final month of 2013, Humane PA has published its end of the year 2013/2014 Scorecard, detailing how Pennsylvania legislators voted on bills that affect animals. We hope you will check it out to see how your PA State Senator and Representative voted on animal protection issues this year.

If they did well for animals, please thank them; if they have room for improvement, please let them know you’re paying attention. The scorecard link is a great resource to send to them too, so they can also see how they are doing. There is still time for them to do better before the 2014 elections, when animal advocates certainly will be checking to see how their legislators are doing before they go to the polls. The legislator’s records will also be used in the endorsement process. You can look up your state legislators here and find their e-mail address here, as well as follow them on Facebook.

The anti-animal bills are marked in red on the score-card and include:

It is important to contact your legislators to let them know that you want voice lessthem to support bills that protect animals from abuse and oppose bills that perpetuate animal cruelty. Please sign up to be alerted when action is needed on bills that are moving. Thank you for giving animals a voice in Harrisburg!

For further information:

Complete list of pending legislation affecting animals in Pennsylvania.

Posted in Animal cruelty, Legislation, Pennsylvania election, Pennsylvania legislation, Pennsylvania Politics, Voter scorecard

Making Animal Protection a Political Priority

Guest blog by Paul Shapiro

PaulIn 1965, after a decade of landmark advancements—from Brown v. Board to the March on Washington to the Civil Rights Act—the American civil rights movement was at a crossroads. Having achieved progress few would’ve thought possible just 10 years prior, the movement was faced with the painful reality that, for as much forward movement as it had produced, the plight of black Americans was still dire.

One of the movement’s heroes, March on Washington organizer Bayard Rustin, penned a column, “From Protest to Politics,” in which he laid out a new roadmap for helping take the next steps not just for black opportunity, but for actual black equality.

A veteran of the nonviolent civil disobedience tradition, Rustin was long-steeped in demonstrations. But his message to his fellow activists was clear: It’s time for the movement to pivot. It’s time, if the movement was to make even more fundamental progress toward racial equality, to become more serious about politics. He wrote:  “A conscious bid for political power is being made, and in the course of that effort a tactical shift is being effected: direct-action techniques are being subordinated to a strategy calling for the building of community institutions or power bases….What began as a protest movement is being challenged to translate itself into a political movement.”

In many ways, we’re beginning to see a similar shift by the animal protection movement today. Animal advocates indeed have made important strides in recent
years, especially in shining a spotlight on the routine abuse of animals raised for food. And now, the movement is in getting far more involved in political campaigns than ever before.

Animal advocates have used ballot measures with great success since the early 1990s, but those were primarily waged because of an inability to pass reforms through state legislatures, which were in the grips of animal-use industries. Why are those special interests so influential?  Their political influence doesn’t stem from factory farmers or hunters making up majorities of constituents, but from those industries’ political involvement.

Today, we’re seeing a large increase in state animal protection political action committees (PACs), animal advocates running for office, and animal advocates’ direct involvement in candidate races. And these actions are already yielding dividends, with literally hundreds of state animal protection laws enacted across the country in just the past few short years.

This pivot by the movement is critical. The animal protection movement is right about how detestable the rampant cruelty we inflict on our fellow creatures is. But being right, unfortunately, is rarely enough. Animals need us to be both right and effective.

The importance of changing laws to protect animals from cruelty can’t be overstated. In addition to reducing suffering—such laws codify the notion that animals’ interests matter. And making the animal protection movement a political force to be reckoned with—one with even more political influence than those who defend animal cruelty —will only come to be when enough animal protectionists dive into the political game and start delivering the votes and other resources that sway policy-makers.

Rustin was right that creating a voting bloc and obtaining political power was the right pathway forward for civil rights. The same should be so for many other social justice movements today, including animal protection. When it comes to rectifying societal injustices, as civil rights activist Florynce Kennedy so aptly put it: “Don’t agonize, organize.”

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Photo credit: Matt Reese

Paul Shapiro is the vice president of farm animal protection at The Humane Society of the United States. Follow him at http://twitter.com/pshapiro.

Posted in Animal cruelty, Pennsylvania Politics, Political Action Committees, Politics | Tagged

Humane PA’s Top 10 Political Actions for Animals For Which We Are Thankful

  1. tygivingAnimal advocates in Pennsylvania who are open to and motivated to learn more about getting politically engaged for animals.
  2.  The people on our Facebook page who share every single post (Rose, Charlotte, Cheryl, Laurie, Don Sharon, Kris, Anthony, Doris, Lori, Robin, Lynn, Tami, Linda, Kimberly, Loretta, Don, Karl, Mary, Daily Paws, Elissa, Dogdaddy, Gloria, Maryjo, Tawnya, Andrea, Joseph, Robin, Gail, Susan, Minka, Ellen, Regina, Carol, Raoul, Sheila, Mary, Denise, Karen, William, Janet, Sonja) – and of course all those who we may not know are sharing because of Facebook privacy settings – thank you too!
  3. Our donors who understand the importance of including a political action committee (PAC) for animals in their list of animal giving. We can’t make the strides we are making without you.
  4. The legislators who are leaders against cruelty or are becoming more engaged in fighting cruelty, and who we can count on to vote for the good animal bills and against the bad ones.
  5. The Humane PA volunteer coordinators, who do their best to help others understand the political process and constantly encourage animal lovers in Pennsylvania to get involved in policy and/or election work.
  6. The volunteers who work at the polls, phone bank, canvas, donate or otherwise help humane candidates get elected.
  7. The tireless “ animal” lobbyists who spend countless hours in Harrisburg advocating for the humane treatment of animals.
  8. The volunteers who monitor all the bills affecting animals and then keep the animal community well-informed about what is happening with animal bills and when and what action is needed.
  9. The wonderful friendships that have been formed from people who care about animals coming together to make political change for animals and getting involved in the legislative process.
  10. The animals who motivate us every day to do our best to change Pennsylvania laws to protect them !

tygiving3

Posted in Pennsylvania election, Pennsylvania legislation, Pennsylvania Politics, Thanksgiving, Volunteers | Tagged

Tethering – on its Last Thread?

tethering roscoeFor years, people who care about animals have worked hard, but unsuccessfully to pass anti-tethering legislation in Pennsylvania. Recently, Melissa Smith, Executive Director of the York County SPCA, took matters into her own hands and is now working township by township to eradicate this atrocious practice.  She graciously agreed to tell us her story in a guest blog with the hope of inspiring others across the state to create ordinances prohibiting extended tethering in their own townships as well as to prompt a state-wide ban.

Guest blog by Melissa Smith

I have worked for the York County SPCA for nearly 25 years and during that time have encountered thousands of heartbreaking situations.  Near the top of this list in terms of frequency and egregiousness are my observances of tethered dogs.  While my current position as Executive Director does not facilitate direct contact with these poor canines often, my years as the Humane Society Police Officer (HSPO) provided a constant reminder of the plight of tethered dogs.  On far too many nights, after returning home from work and hearing the wind howling outdoors from frigid temperatures, I would think of the dogs I had investigated that day.  While I was warm in bed, these dogs were outside struggling to keep warm.  While I was sipping on hot cocoa, these dogs were unable to drink because their water was undoubtedly frozen.  The best I could hope for was that there was no freezing rain, sleet or snow which can be deadly for a dog who becomes wet and could ultimately die slowly and painful from exposure.

As I moved on from my position of HSPO to Operations Manager and then Executive Director, I never forgot about the outdoor dogs who touched my life. In late 2011 I decided to take a big chance and do something about it.  I began to gather examples of tethering ordinances from other states and I discussed my plan with Sarah Speed, who is the Pennsylvania State Director of The Humane Society of the United States. Then, I spoke with a trusted attorney on the York County SPCA Board of Directors, to get his input.  He compiled information along with specific ideas that I had to address tethering and he produced a draft of a tethering ordinance.  With excitement and uncertainty, I mailed a copy of this draft along with an explanatory cover letter to all 72 municipalities in York County.

After a short time, I heard back from a few municipalities that considered my proposal but ultimately decided not to move forward, highlighting the need for a state-wide law.

Voice2My local campaigning consisted of:

Reaching out to municipalities where I had observed an inordinate number of tethered dogs.

Attending municipal meetings to provide statistics on tethered dogs in their areas.

Showing pictures to relay first-hand accounts of neglected outdoor dogs.

Finally after several months, the first two municipalities, Mount Wolf Borough and York Township passed the ordinance, followed closely by Spring Garden Township, Springettsbury Township and Heidelberg Township.  I was overjoyed.  We were the first in PA to provide this type of protection for outdoor dogs.  And, I am thrilled to say that Newberry Township has just passed the ordinance making them the sixth municipality within York County to step up for the dogs in our community.  Our work is far from over and I will continue to discuss this very important issue with other York County municipalities. This is a campaign that can be replicated in townships across our state until Pennsylvania finally passes statewide legislation.

Tethering Ordinance Language:

MelissaSmith2.jpgMelissa Smith is the Executive Director of the York County SPCA.  The York County SPCA is dedicated to providing long-term human and animal services to residents of York County through programs that find permanent, loving homes for displaced and stray animals, help control animal population growth, investigate and prosecute cruelty offenders and educate the general public about animal wellness and safety.

For more information about pending anti-tethering bills in Pennsylvania: End 24/7 Tethering of Dogs in Pennsylvania

Philly Dawg: Harrisburg Poised to be the first PA City with anti-tethering law

Posted in Animal cruelty, Animal Law, Animal shelters, Humane Society, Pennsylvania legislation