Oh Dog! This week Jen went to the state Capitol to lobby for Humane Day. She’s gonna tell us a little of what it was like! woo woo woo!
Last Tuesday, I joined others in my state to lobby for animal legislation. There were around 60 of us attending. Compare that to the hundreds that were present for UT Day being held at the same time. That does make an impression. It certainly did with me.
We were briefed by Leighann McCollum, TN State Director for HSUS. We reviewed some talking points to help us when we talk with our elected officials. I learned that most of the legislation pertaining to animals had already been laid to rest for this year, but one bill, HB 3487/ SB 3692 Prohibiting Primates as Pets, was still in play, so we would focus on that bill. I do not think undomesticated animals should be “owned” as pets. But is this a problem in Tennessee that requires legislation to fix?
Last August, a macaque monkey escaped and attacked a woman in Bedford County. The officer that responded was also attacked. The monkey was shot and killed. When officers went to the home of the owner, four more monkeys were found, each living in inhumane conditions (one was in a bird cage). The owner surrendered the monkeys and the animals were transported to a sanctuary. Afterward, the owner acquired another monkey.
OK, I’m sold. The HSUS folks have scheduled for me an afternoon appointment with my state Senator. There’s no appointment with my Representative, but I can visit his office so he’ll know someone stopped by.
After the debriefing I met up with another person who was to meet with the same Senator as me. She was unable to make the late appointment but wanted to be sure someone met with him. I assured her I would be going. As we talked, I learned we don’t live so far apart, and that I’d actually seen her out walking her dogs before. Talk about small world!
I also met some other interesting folks, including a woman who runs a bunny rescue, a service dog trainer, an actor, a woman who works with a greyhound rescue, and a woman who works with a PAC that supports candidates that support animal welfare legislation. I’m hoping each can make an appearance here in the future.
To avoid making this a long post you don’t read half of, I’m going to talk about my meetings in another post. But here are some things I learned that I think are important:
- It’s important to do your homework! I had received some info by mail, but hadn’t carefully looked it over. I should have, because I learned that the bill number on the handouts given me was wrong. These are busy folks, and they need accurate information, so make sure yours is!
- Be persistent! The first time we visited my Representative’s office, I was met by a smiling young intern. I decided to go back later in the day. I still didn’t meet my Representative, but I did meet his assistant, and that was a great experience for me. She taught me how to look things up online and gave me some great info I was able to use when I met with my Senator.
- Be responsible! There were six people scheduled to meet with my Senator. I was the only one that made the meeting. I knew why one didn’t show, but it would have been nice if I could have known I was the only one going to be there. Trust me, the Senator noticed it too.
- How you say things can be as important as what you say. I heard the Agriculture Committee discuss a Horse Slaughter bill. The Representative sponsoring this bill is trying to sell this as a humane way to deal with a problem of horse starvation in the state. Really? Humane? Yes, that’s what he said. And I’m betting there will be many people who will latch onto that one word- “humane”- and lend their support, or at the very least, not stand in opposition.
- Do not for one minute think that one person can’t make a difference! OK, so the Primate Bill is stuck in committee and will most likely stay there for the rest of this session. But I didn’t even know the bill existed until Leighann made me aware. And now I’m making all of you aware. If you know someone who lives in Tennessee, I’m asking you to make them aware. And on it goes. All it takes is that one person to raise their voice.
Come back tomorrow for more on my experience with Lobby Day!