DREAM Dachshund Rescue

I am amazed every day by the capacity of dogs to love and forgive the human race. I hope to give people a better understanding of what rescue is and why rescue is needed. The road is heartbreaking and frustrating. I meet so many dogs with such sad histories. And then I see them turn themselves around, with love and stability, and I think this is the happiest road there is, as well as the saddest. For the doggies, always the doggies. www.dreamdachsierescue.org

Thursday, February 14, 2008

YOU can help! Three bills to help dachshunds (and all dogs) in Georgia

Folks, there are 3 animal-welfare related bills in the Georgia Legislature this session. I hope all of you will contact your state Senators and Representatives to ask them to support or co-sign the bills. I have information at the bottom of this post that will tell you HOW to find and contact your representatives. It is amazingly easy and quick.

Now, these bills aren't perfect. I don't like the way they worded every point. But if passed, they will make a huge difference from where we are now. And that's how this stuff works -- step by step. The Humane Society of the United States helped with the writing. Let's not let the perfect be the enemy of the good.

The first bill is HB 1060. This would ban the use of the gas chamber. Animals would have to be euthanized via injection. It also requires public shelters and AC to furnish reports/stats of their euthanizations, which would make all of our grant writing efforts easier. This is a way to get PRIVATE money, since Georgia is reluctant to spend PUBLIC money.
****When talking to your senator / rep, emphasize 3 points: 1) gas chamber is an unnecessarily cruel way to dispose of our unwanted animals from overpopulation, 2) the gas itself is obviously toxic and a hazard to the shelter workers and the environment, and 3) enforcing the reporting enables our state to get access to private funding sources since we have more accurate statistics about the extent of our problem.***

The second bill is HB 1194, the "Consumer Protection Act for Pet Owners." It is essentially a "pet lemon law" that would apply to pet stores and breeders (not shelters or rescues). I am especially excited about this one because it attacks the puppymill problem from financial perspective and a consumer protection perspective, which even non-animal lovers can get behind. It provides for the right for a person to go back to the petstore and get reimbursed for veterinary expenses for certain health issues that existed at point of sale. It also mandates certain vaccinations. Think about what would happen to the puppymills if petstores stopped buying from them because the pups with health issues came back and started costing them money. And think about what would happen if a puppymill had to vaccinate before even SENDING the puppy to the petstore.

Now, I don't love all the language of the bill, but we can work on tweaking that next year once we have some experience with it on the ground.
****For this one, ask your representative to make sure this bill gets out of committee and gets its chance at a vote on the senate and house floors. Emphasize the points about protecting consumers from greedy breeders and petstores.****

If you think you know about the scale of puppymills in this country, read this: http://network.bestfriends.org/truth/news/22676.html. Many of the pups in petstores in Georgia come from Missouri.

And of course, there is the dogfighting bill, HB301, which is in its final stages of passing overwhelmingly. All you need to say on this one is how much you appreciate the support it has gotten across the house and senate and that you expect them to work out the final details to pass it. (They are quibbling now about what happens to the dogs that are seized.) But I think your messages should focus on the other 2 bills, since this one will pass.

Here is what I'm asking you to do.

Go to this site to figure out who your state senator and representative are. You need your zip +4 code. http://www.votesmart.org/ When your search results come up, scroll down to "State Legislative." There should be 2 names - a senator and a house representative. (If you don't know the +4 part of your zip, use this site first -- http://zip4.usps.com/zip4/welcome.jsp)

OK, now that you know who your guys / gals are, here's what you do. Go to this site and look them up to get phone numbers, office locations, email addresses, or whatever you want. http://www.legis.state.ga.us/ (See "Fact Sheet" on each.)

The most effective way to contact your representative / senator is in person. This is amazingly easy to do, and makes a huge impression. These guys WANT to see you and meet you. They LOVE IT when constituents come see them. You can call and ask for an appointment, but it's easy to just go down to the Capitol -- it's simple on MARTA -- or find the office in the district itself. If the senate or house is actually in session, you can go to the desk and ask them to go into the chamber to get your guy / gal. They send a page in (kids!) and the rep comes out to see you in the hall. Yes, they come out of the session just to talk to little old YOU. Introduce yourself as someone in their district and say your piece about the bills. If possible, tell a story about your personal experience and why this is important. (For example, I told my senator yesterday about puppies I have gotten from people after they found out they had birth defects that couldn't be seen at the young age they got them. And he was shocked to find out that I have dogfighting in my neighborhood. That really woke him up). Make sure you mention the bill number and key words from the bill's name. If possible, leave a card with a little note on it, with the bill numbers. If you get there and your senator / rep is away, ask to talk to his / her staff person.

The second best way is by phone. Call and leave a message with the bill numbers and names, and your request to support them.

It is also effective to send a snail mail letter or card, this way you can tell your story. This is also great to do as a follow-up to visiting your representative, like a thank you note.

Email is okay too, although makes less of an impression. Same deal, make sure the bill numbers are in the subject line.

Contact the governor's office, ideally by phone, and ask Sonny Perdue to rally his people around these excellent pieces of legislation, and to sign them when they get to his desk. 404-656-1776, or you can go to the website and fill out a little form. http://gov.georgia.gov/00/gov/contact_us/0,2657,78006749_94820188,00.html . Or you can write a note and fax it to 404 657 7332.

It takes only 3 contacts from constituents to wake up a senator / representative about an issue and get it on his / her radar screen. Imagine what an effect we would have if everyone who read this made a phone call or went down to the Capitol.

Two of the bills are still in the Agriculture Committee. The emails of the committee are below; please send a personal message to each member urging them to move the bills forward so they can have their vote on the House Floor.

We have a chance to make a difference! Let's not blow it! These guys need to know how important this is, and the only way they will know that is if people who are passionate tell them about it.

jon.burns@house.ga.gov, carl.epps@house.ga.gov, englandhomeport2@alltel.net, lynmore.james@house.ga.gov, tommccall@bellsouth.net, billy.maddox@house.ga.gov, gene.maddox@house.ga.gov, reptonysellier136@msn.com, kevinlevitas@bellsouth.net, jay.roberts@house.ga.gov, blackellis@bellsouth.net, penny.houston@house.ga.gov, winfred.dukes@house.ga.gov, dubose.porter@house.ga.gov, dawg4116@aol.com, chuck.sims@house.ga.gov, tommy.smith@house.ga.gov

If you want to see the full language of the actual bills, go to this site http://www.legis.state.ga.us/ and use the "Legislative Search" feature at the top right.

THEN, forward this post to every Georgia animal lover you know. Ideally, copy and paste it into your own email message and add your own spin.

If after all of that, you have even more energy, email Representative Pat Gardner pat@patgardner.org and Stan Watson stan_watson@matria.com to thank them for their leadership in bringing these bills to the General Assembly.

Viva democracy!