Want to know the one word key to saving as many animal lives as possible? Collaboration!
Earlier this month I had the pleasure of speaking at The Ohio Pibble March at the Ohio Statehouse – an event focused on ending breed discrimination and celebrating the amazingness of Pit Bull-type dogs. In addition to the hundreds in attendance, the event was live-streamed via Facebook so thousands more could enthusiastically participate.
My speech centered on my deep conviction that the key to making BSL and puppy mills a thing of the past is collaboration. We won’t change the world alone. We need your active participation and passionate voice to succeed. And only when we are all openly collaborating harmoniously will we be at our most effective.
For many years now my wife Alisha and I have been deeply committed animal advocates – combating breed specific legislation (BSL), fighting to shut down puppy mills and pushing lawmakers to enact better legislation protecting animals from cruelty and abuse.
We live in Ohio, one of the weakest states in the country for animal welfare legislation. So at times this has felt like an uphill battle – one we’ve fought against well-funded lobbyists committed to fighting any legislation which gives animals rights of any kind.
Sad, isn’t it?
On the bright side, over the past 12 months, we’ve felt the tide turning. Why, you ask? Well, to sum it up in a word, collaboration. For too long, many advocates have pursued their noble causes without really engaging other advocacy groups or properly informing and activating the public. This lack of active collaboration has caused delays in advancing Ohio’s animal welfare progress.
But as of late we have worked deliberately to educate, inform and activate you – the public. And you have risen to the challenge with vigor and gusto.
Because of your engagement (via your calls, emails and in-person visits to lawmakers), we have collectively made significant progress across the board. This includes passing Goddard’s Law (Ohio House Bill 60) in May of this year.
Goddard’s Law makes animal cruelty and abuse a felony in the state of Ohio. Believe it or not, up until the passage of this law, these offenses were only met with a small fine. Now animal abusers will face real jail time.
Efforts to pass Goddard’s Law were spearheaded by Amy Beichler of PAWS Ohio and named after long-time animal advocate and Cleveland, Ohio meteorologist, Dick Goddard. It was years in the making. But what took this initiative over the goal line was active collaboration by advocates across the entire state and through the public’s active engagement in lobbying lawmakers.
The same can be said about efforts to pass an ordinance in Grove City, Ohio earlier this year which made the sale of puppy mill puppies (through pet stores) totally illegal within city limits. Lobbyists in support of these “high volume breeders” (aka puppy mills) fought hard against us and resorted to shameless tactics to prevent this ordinance from passing.
But they underestimated the resolve of Grove City residents – as well as the many advocates collaborating from all over the world who bombarded city council members with overwhelming support for the ordinance. In fact, over 14,000 pieces of correspondence were received by city council from the public. Because of this active collaboration and deliberate team work, the ordinance passed by a compelling 4-1 margin.
Last month I had the pleasure of traveling to Washington, DC to meet with leaders from the ASPCA and the HSUS to discuss taking this concept of active collaboration to the national stage – in a real and meaningful way. I believe with all of my heart that we will be much more successful in our efforts to advocate for animals when we do so as part of a large, unified front – all rowing in the same direction.
Both entities agreed completely and we have all begun to actively and openly collaborate together while fully informing and activating the public so that as a committed and unified team, we can tackle the issues of animal abuse and discrimination most effectively.
To take our collaboration to yet another level, we have begun engaging for-profit businesses in our advocacy efforts. In fact, I had a productive meeting this week with leaders from BarkBox here in Columbus, Ohio discussing ways they could support our initiatives and better serve our community.
You see, it takes an army of advocates to advance our important causes. And we are building one. But we need your help. We need your voice and your resolve. Only then can we maximize this renaissance era for animal welfare we are entering.
Feel free to connect with me on social media. I use these platforms to disseminate important advocacy information and to provide critical action items so that we can all play a critical role in advancing our society when it comes to animal welfare initiatives and beyond. I’m happy to help plug you in and connect you with other dedicated advocates committed to saving lives.
Join our army of advocates and together let’s collaborate for the benefit of animals and humans everywhere!
Featured image via Luke Westerman/Facebook