Offer alternatives (see NAIA model legislation). Our community can help!
Small gains are better than no gains at all. The AR movement succeeds by making incremental advances towards their goals.
Select your talking points carefully. Avoid legitimizing unscientific terms and language used by animal rights activists, such as "puppy mills". The problem we are trying to address is substandard kennels or inadequate animal care standards.
Avoid demonizing the opposition. They are entitled to their position and opinion, but encourage your lawmaker to research the source of their information before accepting it. Explain the difference between animal rights and animal welfare.
Know your audience and frame your message in terms they can understand and support.
Be courteous, never confrontational, even if you disagree. If they agree, thank them for their vote – ask them to talk to their colleagues!
Political contributions count. No matter how small, you are still on their mailing and supporter list.
Practice your talking points and anticipate questions based on AR propaganda. Prepare handouts on the issues to leave with the legislator or the staff
Get acquainted with the staff. They are the gatekeepers and frequently frame positions for the legislators. They can insure that your information gets placed at the top of the bill file.
Arrive early for appointments. Be prepared to wait. Legislators’ schedules can be unpredictable and you want to make a favorable impression.
At the Meeting and Afterwards
What you will want to do at the meeting:
- Identify yourself as a constituent
- Thank them for their time
- Share any relevant affiliations, clubs, volunteer activities (especially rescue or shelter work) and community or political involvement.
Reference the bill or issue and your position
Mention anything that makes you uniquely qualified to speak on the issue: your profession, avocation, years of experience, training, and degrees or certification.
Focus on the implications of the legislation or regulations – do not get sidetracked by side arguments or "straw men."
Always be compassionate when discussing animal issues. There are those who would unfairly mischaracterize our "side" as lacking compassion.
If opposing a bill, explain why it is unnecessary, has unintended consequences or will be costly or subject to legal challenge as drafted.
Discuss how the bill will impact you and the people you know. Emphasize impact on the district and the state. Tell stories to illustrate your point.
Give the legislator a chance to respond or ask questions. If you don’t know the answer to something tell them you aren’t sure. Say that you will look into it and follow up soon with that information. Never guess at the answer if you aren’t sure.
Don’t be afraid to ask them for their position on a bill. They might not be able to commit, so be understanding, but invite them to call on you as a resource to help them arrive at a decision.
Leave them with the written materials we have provided. Add your name and contact information at the top so they have something for their records and can call on you in the future.
Follow up with a letter or e-mail thanking them for the meeting and briefly stating your position again.