Yesterday’s Arizona Republic ran a column from me about Arizona’s leading role on some core animal protection causes: kick-starting the anti-confinement movement for farm animals and the effort to promote adoption of homeless dogs and cats. Enhanced protections for farm animals came through a landmark ballot measure in 2006 that reverberated around the nation, and a head-turning advance for companion animals came through the work of Phoenix-based PetSmart (and also its prime competitor Petco) when they decided two decades ago to forego puppy sales and throw open the doors of their stores to rescue and shelter groups to adopt out animals. Between them, they’ve helped adopt out more than 11 million dogs and cats.
Some years ago, we dismantled our regional office structure and hired a director for every state. Now our state directors work with our state council and district leaders and they are tailoring a reform agenda for every state.
At The HSUS, we have a 50-state strategy, and we are hoping that you’ll be involved with our state-based efforts to continue driving reform.
Last year, we launched Humane Puerto Rico, led by The HSUS’s Tara Loller and Yolanda Alvarez, to reshape the laws of the commonwealth, train law enforcement officials, and upgrade the work of local animal organizations (through training and by helping them with spay-and-neuter and vaccination programs). We’ve just launched a similar campaign in Oklahoma, where, just weeks ago, we trained more than 700 law enforcement personnel in the state and delivered to every one of them a duffel bag full of tools, including an evidence collection kit.
Our work takes so many forms. HSUS Michigan state council member Virginia Holden led an effort to ban the use of the gas chamber in her county and that set us up for success statewide. Our Idaho state director Lisa Kauffman worked diligently with our team on the ground to upgrade its anti-cruelty law, and West Virginia director Heather Severt has a strengthened animal fighting bill awaiting Governor Roy Tomblin’s signature.
Obviously, the news about SeaWorld ending its breeding of orcas means that California Assemblyman Richard Bloom’s bill to codify the ban on orca breeding now stands an excellent chance of enactment.
Just a few months ago, we released our state rankings that show how states are performing on animal protection policies. And one of our key partners, the Kirkpatrick Foundation, just released a comprehensive look at animal welfare in Oklahoma, under the premise that understanding what’s happening there is the precursor to changing things for the better.
While the laws are one measure of how a state is doing, it’s important to consider if private companies are taking a leading role on animal issues. It’s also vital to think about the cohesion of local animal organizations and the level of grassroots participation. Well-trained law enforcers are a critical component. And a robust press, including crusading investigative reporters like KLAS-TV’s George Knapp and KTNV-TV’s Darcy Spears in Las Vegas, allows animal protection ideas to gain traction.
It takes so much to drive reform. We are doing that on a global and national level, but we are also doing it state by state. Come, join us to give all of these efforts even more lift and to be a catalyst for change.