Blog by Elissa Katz, President, Humane PA PAC
April 20, 2015 is Humane Lobby Day and scores of animal advocates from every part of the state will meet in our capital to raise their voices for animals. I will make the trip from Philadelphia to Harrisburg to participate – and I am looking forward to the day with great excitement and anticipation. If you have never attended a Lobby Day, or are hesitating about whether or not to make the trip, I hope that this blog will encourage you to take the plunge and register immediately!
With so many competing interests vying for the attention of our legislators, it is vitally important for those of us who care about the humane treatment of animals and want better laws to be passed to have a presence in Harrisburg. When we show up in large numbers on Humane Lobby Day, bearing the message that we care about animals and we vote, we send a message that we also care enough about these issues to come out and meet the legislators and their staff on their own turf. It shows we mean business, and we expect anti-cruelty issues to be taken seriously and given the attention they deserve. It gives us the opportunity to look our own legislators in the eyes, the same people we have been calling and emailing about various humane bills, and tell them what is important to us – and what we want them to do about it! And with a record number of animal related bills circulating and pending in the legislature, our legislators need to hear from their constituents to make sure that these bills are front and center in their list of priorities.
I remember feeling somewhat nervous and hesitant while I was traveling to my first Lobby Day – and then the relief once there when all training was provided before being sent out to our various meetings. The HSUS planners of Lobby Day could not make it easier for even the novice to be an effective citizen lobbyist! Pending bills are reviewed and prioritized, we are given packets of materials to present to the legislators, and we are coached on lobbying etiquette. All you have to do is show up and listen. Truly. It is that easy to effectively raise your political voice for animals.
But Lobby Day is not all business – it is a lot of fun too! It is great to connect and share stories and experiences with animal advocates from different parts of the state, especially those who you “know” through Facebook and other social media. And, at the conclusion of Lobby Day, Humane PA PAC hosts a Pawlitics lunch/happy hour that is not to be missed! The crowd is friendly, Lobby Day experiences are shared, and friendships are made. There are some wonderful people I only see once a year at Lobby Day and the Pawlitics party, and I am sure looking forward to spending time with them on April 20th!
Lobby Day is about speaking up and making a difference. It is about empowerment. It is about making connections and developing friendships, both with legislators and their staffs and with other animal advocates. This is our chance to make a political statement on behalf of animals, and the more people who attend, the stronger that statement. I look forward to seeing you on April 20th in Harrisburg!
Elissa B. Katz is the President of Humane PA PAC 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 Woodstock Farm Animal Sanctuary.