Have Your Own Lobby Day!

Posted on 02/27/2009

This Puppy (and Jenny) had a “Day Out” at the state capitol with our state Lobbyist, Karen Strange, and BOY! Did we learn a lot!!!!!  Thank you Karen.

The following is a synopsis of what we learned:


1.    IF your state does not have an organization, whether it be a Federation, Association, Alliance, etc., start organizing and getting one put together.  The people that need to be in this group are pet owners and pet breeders (I refuse to use all of the different labels that PeTA and HSUS have given us; consequently there are only 2 groups with 2 subgroups: responsible and irresponsible), YOU!  This group must come together to help support the lobbyist at your capitol.  Money can be a crucial factor if the lobbyist has to be paid to support your cause.  IF you are extremely lucky and have someone who is a lobbyist and supports your ideas and side that will work pro bono for you…Grab them up!  Bless your stars and Thank God.  If not…you will have to start looking for one.


2.    Politicians come and go at the state capitol.  Lobbyists are there for years upon years.  The longer a lobbyist has been working at the state capitol the stronger their support web and network.  IF at all possible, You want to have a lobbyist that knows something about your position and hopefully has the proper network built to use for your best interest.  IF you have to go out and cold hire, you need to do footwork at the capitol building and find lobbyists that are Animal Welfare (in our case).  Don’t worry about if they know specifically about dogs/cats/pets as they can help you locate someone that either knows about them OR can learn quickly about the specific position needed to be the best support for them.  So for our case, Once you have identified who is AR and who is AW for animals, approach any AW lobbyist and ask if there is anyone they know that is working with pet law.  IF not, start interviewing the possible AW lobbyists to find one that will fit the cause.


3.    Do not think that once the bill is defeated that you no longer need a lobbyist.  HSUS is not going to go away.  PeTA is not going to go away.  Your lobbyist is your lifeline in keeping legislature going your way.  You will be paying them for a long time, accept this fact and make arrangements to make sure your organization is going to have sufficient funds for this.  Get the AKC/UKC clubs to donate to this group on a regular basis.  Make sure memberships are available for individuals, families, and groups.  PUBLICIZE PUBLICZE PUBLICIZE.  Set out donation jars at veterinarians, pet shops, groomers, etc.  Anywhere that the general public can see it and find out about our/their fight for all of our animals.


4.    Here in Missouri (I don’t know about other states) the committee chair has the exclusive right to kill a bill if they do not support it no matter what the vote.  So that is the key person to target with letters.  The Problem: If the letters are not composed in the proper manner they could undermine all of the work that the lobbyist is doing with the chairman.  Some chairmen don’t care how many emails they get…others can become upset if too many come in.  This is where the lobbyist is the one that should be telling the organization how to get the public to contact the chairman.  The lobbyist will also know which of the committee members can pull ‘favors’ for/against the bill with the chair.


5.    When you are not sure about where the bill is in the process, you should always write your Representative and your Senator your views.  Keep it short and to the point when coming from an individual.  MAKE SURE TO INCLUDE YOUR TELEPHONE NUMBER IF YOU ARE A CONSTITUENT.  If you are a resident of the state but it is not your representative, you should still include your telephone number on the email as that Rep/Senator can call you if they so desire, or identify where you are and talk to your Rep/Senator.  IF you know that your Rep/Senator is in on your side, when writing other Reps/Senators in your state, let them know where you are.  This may just get the Reps/Senators together to talk.  AGAIN, you need to be in contact with your lobbyist as they will know who needs pressure and how much to exert, and how to exert it.

As a private citizen, if there is a Rep/Senator that needs swaying (they have been identified by lobbyist) and you don’t live in their area/neighborhood, go to that area/neighborhood and do some door knocking, explaining the need and get their constituents to write in to them.


6.    For the most part, support and oppose emails are not tabulated as it is too time consuming.  If a bill is in committee, it is the committee that needs to be targeted, especially the committee chair (see 3).  If a bill is on the floor, the lobbyist can tell you who to contact to sway.


7.    Research how the Reps/Senators are voting, and go talk to the ones who are on your side. Find out who else votes with them, and go talk to them, too. Above all, keep it short and sweet when talking to legislators. Unless this is their pet topic, they aren’t going to want the whole history of the AR battle. Tell them it’s bad, a little bit about why it’s bad, and that it’s being pushed hard by their opponent(s). That should be enough. If they want more, they will let you know and ask for your contact information.  You can always volunteer your contact information.  If you do leave it…name, email address and telephone number are what you need to write down even if they only ask for one.

8.    Even if you find a lobbyist, you will want to go to your capitol on occasion to back them up, and meet the legislators who are on your side. It helps keep it real and personal to them, so that they remember why they are voting to protect your rights. Back them up, let them know it matters and that you appreciate it.


9.    Organize Rallies through your lobbyist.  What is more moving then a picture of a dead animal?  The touch, feel, eyes and wagging tail of a live one.  Get together and take you animals to your state capitol to show the condition of them.  We are Breeders and We are Proud! 


Again, Thank you Karen for your time in educating us about the process and what is needed.  People from out of state can only do a little for those in the state battling these bills/legislation.  It is for the residents of the state to start the rally cry and then come to us out-of-state for help.  We, out-of-state, can do the research and writing for those in-state giving them the needed information.  This releases the in-state residents to do the walking, talking and greeting.  The real foot work.  Don’t think that someone else is doing this for you, no one is going to save you.  Get busy NOW. 

To locate the federations/alliance/organizations you can go to this website at AKC: http://www.akc.org/canine_legislation/federations.cfm.  If you do not see your state listed there with someone to contact, contact ADOA, SAVOA, NAIA and they can help you get started in finding someone. 

IF they can’t put you in contact with an organization, they can surely get you in touch with other individuals and then you start your organizations.  Contact all of the dog clubs, cat clubs, etc that you can and get them busy.  Someone can help you organize and get set up from ADOA, SAVOA, NAIA, or from a state that has an organization that is active.


Go Sic’em!


Cathy Mall and Jenny Thrasher