Today, I tried my hand at political action. After work, I made my way downtown to join The Humane Society of the United States (HSUS) and my local politicians to discuss a few proposed bills. I had never been to a ‘lobby day’ before and had no idea what to expect. But, I figured some of you might be in the same boat, so of course I was dying to share my experience.
To be completely honest, I think I missed all the fun, since I worked in the morning. I missed doughnuts and coffee and vegan pizza (but really, that’s okay!). I also missed the introductions and apparently some sort of event where people got cute little orange ribbons to show their support for the ASPCA. Bummer.
But, I did arrive in time to meet with my local senator. Except, not really, because he was busy. So instead, I met with a very sweet blonde woman named Taylor. I don’t know what her job was, but she seemed to know what she was doing, and she knew the senator.
There were a few minutes where I was a bit afraid I would be the only person to show up to the meeting, which would have been super awkward because neither Taylor nor I really knew what we were supposed to be doing there.
However, after a few minutes of uncomfortable solitude some locals showed up. Citizens and rescuers of all walks of life – at least it seemed to me. A few of them made jabs about students acquiring dogs and abandoning them having a large part to do with the overpopulation problem (which is NOT a stereotype I like to perpetuate, since I was a 19 year old sophomore when I adopted Miss Lana) but… I got over it.
There is actually a pretty big controversy when it comes to the HSUS and whether or not they do what they should for animals. I fully intend to go into the topic one day soon, but it involves more research than I could stomach right now. So, I’ll tell you the short version.
The HSUS is not the same as your local Humane Society. It’s confusing, but they aren’t. Frankly I’ve never seen them claim to be. While they do donate some money to help rescue dogs and cats, most of their resources are spent lobbying.
Lobbying has an awful connotation, but it needs to be done. Every law that helps animals is a step in the right direction. Small shelters and rescues are great for saving lives, but huge organizations like the ASPCA and the HSUS work to eliminate the problem at the source, rather than acting as a sort of band aid for the symptom. Both sides are necessary for fixing the problems our society faces.
If you want to know more about what the HSUS is actively working on, I recommend you attend an event like this with an open mind. We spoke about a bill proposing injuries to greyhounds be published for all to see (I think that was it) and a bill that would require dog breeders provide their location to all buyers. While these are tiny steps, they are methodically thought out. The goal is to target the people doing the most harm without scaring others who are actually in the right. We don’t want responsible breeders to fear we’ll take a mile if they give us an inch, but we need to regulate the breeders who are doing harm. It feels like going up a creek without a paddle because it is. And without a paddle, unfortunately copious amounts of money are needed. Welcome to capitalism.
Personally, while I appreciate those goals, I must say I was underwhelmed. There are other laws I would propose. For example – all puppies purchased from pet stores should have to be spayed or neutered before they leave. And – any dog or cat taken into the shelter should be spayed or neutered before leaving, even if it was a pet that got loose. The animal got out once and risked procreating, it could very easily happen again, especially if the owner is the same. (Plus maybe that would provide more incentive to follow leash laws!) I also think there should be either an annual fine for not spaying/neutering a dog or cat older than one year, or there should be a tax incentive for people who do spay/neuter. (Preferably the first, so the fines could help pay for other much needed social services.)
In all, I think I missed the most interesting part of the day. But, I do feel reassured that the HSUS is indeed doing something. And while I promise I’ll post a serious and lengthy and well-researched post about it later, I’ll remind you now: If you want to help homeless dogs now, donate to your local shelters or rescues. If you want to help change the laws protecting animals, then donate to the ASPCA and the HSUS. It’s your money to give, and you should decide how it’s spent! As long as you’re helping animals, it isn’t wasted. 🙂