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Are you an effective advocate for animal rights?

March 16, 2009 - Amy Jo Hanna-Eckenrode
Do you consider yourself an effective advocate for animal rights? Do you feel you know how to have a positive influence in the fight for the creation of better animal protection laws?

I saw a disturbing clip on the news showing a group of people protesting outside a large pet store in Florida known for getting its puppies from puppy mills. Instead of making a positive impact, or trying to conduct rational interviews and educational sessions, they instead resembled a mad, rabid crowd who was literally accosting a lady trying to return her sick puppy.  That lady didn't need attacked but rather educated about puppy mills. btw, if you don’t think pet stores get their dogs from puppy mills you are living with your head deep in the sand. WAKE UP).

Puppy mills are just the tip of the iceberg as we begin the long journey to exploit the many areas of animal abuse that exist in our so-called modernized world.

However, our fight for animal rights is a tough enough fight without the help of people who don’t know how to properly communicate and advocate for improved laws. Although their hearts are often in the right place, every time people act outrageously or irrationally in a public forum they only diminish the credibility so many others have worked so hard to build.

I consider myself a passionate person about many things. The care and protection of animals (babies, the ill and the elderly) however supercedes all of my passions combined. For me there is no greater cause worth defending. And, yes, there are times I do become so upset and disgusted that I wish I was back in the day of Moses when an 'eye for an eye' was law. But, that is not how our society is designed to punish criminals.  However imperfect, we have a legal system in place and it is up to us to learn how to best use it to protect those who cannot protect themselves. It is not necessarily the loudest voice that gets heard, but the confident voice armed with the most information, education and possible solutions.

The Humane Society of the United States (HSUS) conducts events across the country to help people connect to their programs and campaigns and be an effective voice for animals. "The more concerned people they have working on behalf of animals, the more victories can be secured."

The HSUS holds Lobby 101 seminars designed to walk people through the details of how bills become laws and how you can work with legislators to be an effective citizen lobbyist.

There is a Humane 101 Seminar scheduled for 7pm-8pm on Thursday, April 2 at the Everett Senior Activity Center in Everett, PA.  Phone: 814-652-5621. The event is being hosted by The Afflerbach Group, ( The meeting will feature special guest speaker former State Senator Roy Afflerbach. These events are free of charge but pre-registration is required.

Attendees will:
* learn more about some of the priority animal issues in Pennsylvania and basic techniques to encourage policy changes for citizen activists.
* meet and network with other advocates for animals.
* learn skills necessary to campaign for animals at the local level (composing effective materials for local decision-makers and media outlets, organizing your friends and acquaintances behind one goal, and overall campaign strategic planning.)

Several other seminars are being held throughout the US. Check to see if there is a Lobby 101 or Lobby Day scheduled in your state. If you would like the USHS to hold a Lobby 101 seminar in your area, you can contact them.

Note: I am not going to be able to attend this seminar due to a scheduling conflict but hope that if you do attend, you will email me and share what you've learned so we may post it for others ( I  will try to attend the next closest seminar scheduled or perhaps contact the HSUS to see if they would consider holding a seminar in central PA again this year.

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