Volunteers and advocates across Ohio spend thousands of hours each day working to improve the lives of animals. Many of these hours are spent providing care at shelters and rescues, fostering homeless animals, sharing information about the benefits of a vegetarian diet and lifestyle, caring for injured or orphaned wildlife and helping to change laws for the benefit of animals.
Legislative advocacy – working to introduce, modify, or enact legislative changes – is one of the most effective and easy ways to help make life better for animals for the long term. By engaging with lawmakers you’re helping them become aware of the issues facing animals, and your legislators want to hear from you. So how can you get involved?
The first step is to identify who your legislators are and learn about their interests and what they’re working on. It takes about sixty seconds to identify your state and local legislators by visiting the Humane Society of the United States page and entering your zip code.
Next, sign up for your legislator’s newsletters, and start following them on Facebook, Twitter, and other social media channels. This will help you understand what they’re working on and when you can attend a town hall or public meeting.
The second step is become aware of the legislation that’s currently pending in Ohio. There are many sources for information about current legislative activity for animals in Ohio, including:
- Ohio Voters for Companion Animals – Website | Facebook
- The Humane Society of the United States (Ohio) – Website | Facebook
- Ohio Animal Welfare News – Facebook
These organizations will communicate key talking points and actions that you can take to contact your legislator to let them know that these issues are important to their constituents – the people that vote for or against them.
The third step is to engage with your legislators and your network. There are many ways to connect, including:
- Call – a phone call takes a couple of minutes and gives you a chance to connect with staff member.
- Write – email, or better yet, write a letter and put it in the mail! Physical letters stand out and will get your legislators attention.
- Social Media – write them a message on Facebook or tweet to them on Twitter. This not only communicates directly to them but it alerts your network that you’re communicating and gives them a chance to engage.
- Visit – setup 15 minutes to meet with your legislator to let them know that a bill is important to you. You might meet with a staff member, but that’s great as they control the traffic and what makes it to the desk of a legislator.
Don’t forget to share what you’ve learned with your friends, family, coworkers, and social networks! The more that legislators hear from their voters the more they will understand the issues facing animals and how they can help make life better for animals.
We are a nation of laws, and by working to influence these laws we can make a lasting and meaningful change for animals. Your voice, as an engaged voter, is the most important voice to your legislator. Please speak up. – Chris Niehoff
Chris is a Central Ohio animal lover who wants to see the lives of non-human animals, and human animals, improve individually and collectively. He believes this will happen only when human animals recognize the interconnection of all life and begin to act accordingly. He knows he has a lot to learn and hopes to connect with others on a similar journey.
Photo credit: Shutterstock