How to Get Animal-Friendly Legislation Passed
Does the political process excite you? Consider directly contacting the candidate or party you’re interested in and asking for their positions on animal rights issues you care about.
If you’re interested in taking steps to influence lawmakers, follow these tips for success:
Laying the Foundation
First things first—find out who your elected officials are. Then, get to know as many legislators as you can by going to town meetings, writing and sending them thank-you messages for supporting your positions, and arranging to speak with them. It doesn’t matter what issue you talk about—the important thing is to make connections. You should also get to know elected officials’ aides, who are usually way more accessible and can give you “inside” political info. 😉
Contacting Elected Officials
In order of preference, legislators like being contacted in these ways:
1. Individualized letters by mail
2. Phone calls
3. Individualized letters by fax
4. Individualized e-mails
5. Form letters and e-mails
Here’s the big takeaway: You’re much better off if you personally write your letter, e-mail, or phone script. Here are some more pointers for writing to elected officials:
- Keep it to one page.
- Talk about only one issue at a time.
- State your reason for writing in the first paragraph.
- Support your argument with facts and background info.
- Identify the bill or ordinance by title and number.
- Clearly state what you want the elected official to do.
- Be polite, positive, and nonthreatening.
Include your name, address, and phone number in your letter or e-mail. Use these addresses and salutations for elected officials on letters and envelopes:
- For U.S. senators, use:
The Honorable FirstName LastName
Washington, DC 20510
- For U.S. representatives, use:
The Honorable FirstName LastName
U.S. House of Representatives
Washington, DC 20515
- Refer to any legislator as “The Honorable” on the envelope and inside address.
- The salutation for any state or federal representative is “Mr.,” “Ms.,” or “Mx.”
- The salutation for any state or federal senator is “Senator.”
Check out PETA’s Guide to Letter-Writing for more tips and tricks.
Meeting Elected Officials
So you’re going to meet with an elected official? Congrats! 🥳 Face-to-face meetings are great opportunities to get them on board with crucial legislation.
Be sure to make an appointment well in advance—this works best with the legislator’s busy schedule and gives you more time to research their record, learn your facts, and practice your speech. Follow these other best practices when you meet with elected officials:
- Memorize the title and bill number of the legislation you’re discussing.
- Go by yourself, with one other person, or in a group with one designated spokesperson.
- Dress professionally (no animal rights buttons, T-shirts, etc.).
- If you meet with a legislative aide, act like you’re meeting with the legislator.
- Be friendly and positive.
- Hand out one-page factsheets with info on the issue.
- Speak for yourself, not as a member of a national organization.
- Don’t be emotional—briefly and clearly make your points, thank the legislator, and leave.
How you present yourself can mean the difference between getting support and getting snubbed. We don’t want people who care about animals to be unfairly stereotyped as too emotional. Doing your homework, being calm and polite, and keeping your statements brief all tell legislators that the animal rights movement is legit and that animals’ interests should be taken seriously.
To be clear, legislative efforts can take time, and if you decide to work on them, it’s important to also change your habits to help animals now (and encourage others to do the same). Choosing to buy almond milk, faux-leather shoes, and other vegan items already makes a huge impact, but educating your community through leafleting, stickering, protesting, or hosting a movie screening will help even more animals. Never be silent, and always use your voice for good. ❤️
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