How to Lobby for Animals
Learn how to lobby for animals at the local, state, and federal levels.
You may have received a message from World Animal Protection in the past asking for your help in supporting new bills introduced by policymakers that would strengthen our laws and regulations protecting animals.
Whether you’re one of the thousands of people across the US who helped pass the Big Cat Public Safety Act--a law that prohibits the private possession of big cats like lions and tigers and bans the cruel cub petting industry--or among the just dozens based in Washington, DC who advocated for the new law banning the sale of animals in local pet stores, lobbying may look different at the various levels of government but can be a powerful force for change for animals at any scale.
Change at the local level is by no means small. Lobbying your city or county officials can change the lives of hundreds or maybe even thousands of individual animals in your local area. It can also set a precedent that ripples out to other areas. Local politicians are often more accessible than those who represent larger jurisdictions. City councils regularly hold meetings that are open to the public, providing citizens an opportunity to share the issues that matter to them and advocate for specific changes. Check out our toolkit on getting local bans on wild animal sales for helpful tips and resources for local lobbying.
In the US, state laws are a vital animal protection tool. Most animal protection laws currently in place are at the state level. Several states have banned confining farmed animals in cages and crates, cracked down on puppy mills, or prohibited the use of animals in circuses. Passing these laws both demonstrates growing public support for ending the exploitation and suffering of animals and can bring national attention to important animal issues. It’s important to know that state governments do not all operate in the same way. Some are full-time, year-round jobs in the same way as our federal Congress, while others are in session for only a part of each year or even every other year. You can find out your state’s 2023 schedule here and identify who your state representatives are using your address here.
Lobbying at the federal level may at times feel slow, but the impact of enacting national animal protection laws can be immense. The Big Cat Public Safety Act may have taken nine years of advocacy to pass, but the value for each lion or tiger (no bears, oh my!) that will be protected from languishing in private homes is immeasurable. In many ways, federal lobbying is about persistence and perseverance, a steady drumbeat that cannot be ignored. With so many issues and concerns competing for legislators’ attention, the need to keep at it and continue to make your ask heard cannot be understated.
No matter whether you’re seeking change at the local, state, or federal level, in several ways lobbying for animals will look the same and rely on similar tactics. Here are a few things to keep in mind:
- You are the expert on your issue. Your legislators may not have much background on the animal issue you’re hoping to change. Share resources that briefly explain the problem, why it’s harmful, and why it matters. Offer to share more in-depth materials if the legislator expresses interest in learning more. (Looking for helpful resources on an issue we work on? Reach out to our campaigns team at email@example.com!)
- Communicate through many channels. Politicians and their staff are busy and pulled in many different directions. Writing an email is a great way to reach out, but don’t stop there. Call their office phone line (leave a voicemail if no one answers), send a letter or postcard via snail mail, tag them in a post on social media, and slide into their DMs.
- Make your ask clear. Keep your messaging short and to the point. State clearly the bill or issue you want them to know about and the stance they should take. Make sure you also let them know you’re a voter in their district!
- Ask questions of candidates during their campaigns for election/reelection. The campaign trail is an opportunity to demonstrate to candidates that animal protection is important to voters in their district and gauge whether candidates will prioritize animals while they’re in office. Asking a direct question, such as “what will you do to protect wild animals suffering at roadside zoos if you’re elected?” will put candidates on the spot and signal to them that roadside zoos are an issue they should know about.
- Get your friends, family, and community in on the action. Every person’s voice matters, and thousands of voices sharing the same message can be a powerful agent of change. We often use our network of supporters and other animal groups to build a vocal outcry for animals, and you can do the same. Let us know what bills or issues are moving forward in your area and how we might help!