Mark your calendars, because Wednesday, January 27, 2016 is Washington Humane Lobby Day at the capitol in Olympia. This is an amazing, once-a-year opportunity to have a lasting impact on Washington’s animal protection laws.
This event is hosted by The Humane Society of the United States (HSUS), and citizens from all over Washington State take this day to inform, educate and encourage our legislators about the impact that animal welfare bills can have to protect animals.
HSUS will be providing lobbyist training and information about current legislation. They will also schedule an appointment for you with your state Senator and Representatives so you can lobby them to support the cause of animal protection in Washington. You can sign up to attend by registering here: http://action.humanesociety.org/site/Calendar?view=RSVP&id=116390
I attended Humane Lobby Day in previous years, and I enjoyed it so much that I wanted to share my experience and why it was important to join the lobby team. Below are questions that my friends and neighbors have asked me about Lobby Day:
Why should I attend Humane Lobby Day?
This is a good question because it is almost hard to believe that your efforts on one day of the year can have a lasting, effective impact on the welfare of thousands and even hundreds of thousands of animals who are just like the dogs and cats we love each day. Many of us know how great it is to rescue animals. Yet each of us may be only able to foster, adopt, rescue or rehabilitate a few animals a year – which is a wonderful thing to do. But changing laws to protect animals ensures that so many other animals won’t get stuck in bad situations to begin with or that law enforcement and animal control agencies will have the power to help animals in need by enforcing new laws.
What can I do at Humane Lobby Day? I’m just one person!
The way our political structure works is that we all have Representatives and Senators from each of our districts who are elected and paid through our taxes to work in Olympia. Their job is to work to change laws to help address the issues that we care about in our districts and in the state as whole. However, the system only works if we let our Representatives and Senator know what issues we care about. Humane Lobby Day is your once-a-year chance to join arm-in-arm with your neighbors and friends (who also care about animals), and let your legislators know which bills will help animals.
Our Representatives and Senators don’t read minds. Hence, we have to meet with them, educate them on our issues, and explain to them how the bills were support will help animals and our society as a whole. When you attend Humane Lobby Day, your legislator will have a specific appointment time to listen to you!
Don’t politicians only listen to lobbyists and corporations anyway? Why would they listen to me?
Unfortunately, TV news, movies and some personal experiences have made people skeptical of Congress or our State legislature in Olympia. But there is no substitute for finding out what it is really like for yourself. I attended Humane Lobby Day last year in Olympia and also Humane Lobby Day in Washington, DC in June. I found that nearly everyone cares about animals in some way, and that they wanted to learn about the bills and issues important to me.
We need citizens from all over Washington State to attend Lobby Day so each person can meet with the legislators in their district. My legislators want to hear from me because I vote in their district. You need to attend Lobby Day to talk to the legislators in your district.
I don’t know anything about lobbying or the current bills. How will I be able to educate my legislator?
Not to worry. The Lobby Day agenda includes time at the beginning of the day when we will all learn about the bills we need to support. Staff members from the HSUS and other animal welfare agencies will explain each bill and why it is important.
Does lobbying really work?
You almost have to see it to believe it, but yes, lobbying really does help influence changes to protect animals in Washington State and Washington D.C. Our laws can play an important role in our society to protect individuals (people and animals) from mistreatment, neglect or abuse and to ensure that we have regulations in place to prosecute offenders of the law. When we take time out of our day to lobby a legislator, we help make that system of law & justice for animals possible. When you lobby a legislator for support, you may be asking them to vote yes or no on a bill that is either good or bad for animals. That legislator may even decide to co-sponsor the bill because of your lobbying efforts.
I don’t know anyone in the animal protect movement, and I hesitate to go to Lobby day alone. Should I still attend?
Please do come to Lobby Day even if you don’t know anyone there. You will meet people who are a lot like you and who are taking a stand to protect animals. You may even meet other people from your district when you attend your Lobby Day meetings together. This day will be a full, rich day of learning about animal protection and the role of our legislature to protect animals!
How can I sign up?
You can sign up to attend by registering here: http://action.humanesociety.org/site/Calendar?view=RSVP&id=116390