Blog by Humane PA President, Elissa Katz
The wheels of politics are often slow and frustrating. It can take years for a bill to wind its way through the legislature and to be enacted into law. So many introduced bills go nowhere – bills that all of us know could be enormously helpful to ending certain forms of cruelty to animals, bills that could save lives, yet our lawmakers take no action. It can take months, even years, to develop relationships with candidates, representatives, senators, and their key staff. We witness and read about terrible, heart breaking cruelty, cruelty that we believe any feeling person should cry out against, yet our legislators are often oblivious to such cruelty or what they can do to address it. So, given the frustrations and the often intolerably slow pace of the political process, why do we do what we do at Humane PA – and why do we repeatedly ask all of you to respond to alerts, raise your voices, jump into the process and spread the word to others? Why do we ask for your time – precious time – when there are so many needs and problems demanding our attention relating to animal welfare and protection? We do it because it works.
Many of us are involved in helping animals in the trenches. And the need is overwhelming – the numbers are staggering. There never seems to be enough time to juggle all of the competing needs – so how can we ask that everyone who cares about animals get involved in public policy and politics too? If we don’t ask, and you don’t respond, there will be no laws passed.
The political power of the animal movement has been, up until recently, the missing critical component to the animal protection/welfare movement. The promising reality is that one single law can put to an end the suffering of thousands of animals or assist our overburdened shelters to the benefit of the animals they serve. For such a young participant in the political arena here in Pennsylvania, we have already witnessed impressive successes, such as the passage and enactment of the recent Cost of Care of Seized Animals Act and last session, the historic ban of gas chambers in euthanasia. Both these bills were hard-fought, and Pennsylvania constituents worked hard to make it happen. And, this fall, because of your actions, 3 bills moved in one week! There is great potential for animals to benefit if even only some of the many pending animal related bills become law. Imagine – if SB 510, the bill to ban the use of live animals as targets, receives the vote it deserves, 1000s of animals will be spared the suffering of live pigeon shoots. If the Senate passes HB 164 – which has already unanimously passed the House, possessing, making or selling animal fighting paraphernalia will be criminalized, providing a powerful tool to law enforcement authorities in cracking down on and prosecuting dog and cock fighting! If the legislature acts on either of the anti-tethering bills (HB 41 or SB 522) the lives of so many dogs will vastly improve. There are also several bills pending to strengthen the anti-cruelty law in Pennsylvania. If HB 760, “Angel’s Law” gets the appropriate legislative treatment, those who violate the animal cruelty laws will receive the steeper penalties they deserve.
These are but a sampling of the pending legislation with the potential of positive impact on the lives of animals – a sampling that clearly illustrates that the lives and well-being of animals stand to benefit enormously through our participation in public policy – and our continual, increasing insistence that our elected public officials treat humane issues with appropriate importance and priority.
So, given the potential to help animals presented by the political process, we owe it to the animals to continue to ask for your active participation in the process. Now that the 2013-2014 legislative session has resumed, with so many important animal related bills pending, and so many more yet to be introduced, we once again will ask for your time, energy and efforts in speaking out for animals. We will continue to make the process as easy as we can by providing timely alerts, links and status updates. Because these bills won’t pass themselves, we again ask you to join with us to make the promise of the political process a reality. The animals deserve no less!
Elissa 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 .