No, animals still don’t have the right to vote—but they rely on you to vote in their interest!
We all help animals every day by volunteering and donating to shelters, rescuing and fostering animals in need, and encouraging humane treatment of animals whenever the opportunity arises, as well as simply taking good care of the animals who share our lives.
But sometimes we are limited by what our laws actually say is humane, what is defined as a companion animal and what is livestock, and how individuals can treat the animals in their care. Tomorrow is Primary Day in the state of Pennsylvania, and when you cast your votes, think of the legislators who have promoted humane laws for all animals, whether pets, livestock or wildlife.
When a person is not punished for a deliberate act of animal cruelty, or animals are permitted to be treated in a way we feel is cruel, one of the first questions we ask is, “Why isn’t there a law against that?”
Who makes the laws in this country? It really starts with us, “we the people”, who determine that an issue needs legal direction or guidelines; we take that to our legislators who consider, write, discuss and pass the laws through the consensus of all who serve in the given legislature, from local municipalities to our federal government. Things may not always turn out as we desire, but the needs and opinions of all who will be governed by the law need to be taken into account as represented by those who were elected by said people.
Because our system works this way we can also influence our laws by who we elect. Along with all the other issues you care deeply about, add animal welfare to what you’ll consider about a given candidate. You can help to strengthen the laws that govern humane treatment of animals in your city, county or state by supporting candidates who are animal-friendly.
Recently in Pennsylvania a bill became law that outlaws the use of gas chambers to euthanize animals, something many citizens and legislators have supported for years. Lots of petitions and phone calls and emails from citizens of our state helped Pennsylvania join the other states who find this to be an inhumane method of killing an animal. Puppy mills are a huge issue with legislation jumping back and forth as individuals and breeder interests revise the bill that outlines requirements for breeding facilities, is passed, is challenged and sent back into legislation.
Live pigeon shoots are still permitted in Pennsylvania, where humane organizations have been trying to ban this cruel “tradition” of releasing live pigeons from cages in front of “hunters” with guns ready. It’s already been outlawed in most states because typically more than half of the birds shot are only critically wounded and may suffer for days before dying, and because the birds are live-released like a bunch of balloons instead of hunted, it doesn’t fall under legitimate hunting and is considered an act of cruelty.
Pennsylvania’s leading industry is agriculture, so our state legislators also decide on humane treatment of farm animals.
Then there are tethering laws, breed bans, dog fighting, and many more issues that you can influence by finding the legislators who support the causes and opinions you do.
In Pennsylvania, the non-partisan Humane USA PA Political Action Committee helps to sort out the issues and support all candidates who are animal-friendly regardless of party. On their website, you can find links to the issues mentioned above and find the legislation that might influence the issues one way or the other, plus find information on candidates who sponsor and support humane legislation. In this article you can read about their methodology for determining who they will endorse, and what those candidates have to say on animal issues, and they even publish a list of endorsements you can study before you vote. Your state may have an organization like this as well so that you can research the statements and voting record of a candidate.
And whatever criteria you are using to choose your candidates, please make sure you get out to vote. In the issues of animal welfare and all issues affecting our lives, it only works if the election represents all of us, and that can only happen if you participate.
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