Animal Defenders of Westchester

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We advocate on all animal protection and exploitation issues, including experimentation, factory farming, rodeos, breeders and traveling animal acts.

Animal Defenders of Westchester
P.O. Box 205
Yonkers, NY 10704


Lobbying Mini-Tutorial
By Mary Max

It has come to my attention that some of you are unfamiliar with the mechanics of the legislative process at the Federal and State levels.

If we really want to help animals by getting laws passed to protect them and prosecute their oppressors, it is VITAL that we all take a few minutes to learn how our governments (basically) work and who specifically represents each one of us in the U.S Congress AND in each of our own States.

Thus, a mini-tutorial:

On the Federal level, bills must be introduced in and passed by both the U.S.SENATE and U.S. HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES. If a bill is passed by BOTH chambers, it proceeds to the President to be signed into law or to be vetoed. If a bill is only introduced in or passed by ONE chamber, it dies right then and there. (Maybe some of you recall the Schoolhouse Rock song, "I'm Just a Bill?")


1) TWO U.S. Senators

2) ONE U.S. Representative (Each of us has ONE U.S. Representative, and that person represents about 700,000 people. Please do NOT ignore your U.S. Representative; he or she is one of 435 members of The House of Representatives. It's not for nothin' that The House of Representatives is dubbed "The chamber of the people.")

On the State level, things work similarly: Bills must be introduced in and passed by both the STATE SENATE and the STATE ASSEMBLY. (Depending on what State you live in, this chamber may be called the STATE HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES or the STATE HOUSE OF DELEGATES.) If a bill passed by BOTH chambers, the bill proceeds to the State Governor to be signed into law or to be vetoed. If a bill is only introduced or passed by ONE chamber, it once again dies then and there.

STATE LEGISLATORS: (with the exception of Nebraska), we all have

1) ONE State Senator

2) ONE State Assemblymember (or State Representative or State Delegate)

(One other exception: in a handful of states, citizens have more than one State Representative)

Please note that getting STATE laws passed is, if I may so, almost more important than getting Federal laws passed. If you may recall from school history classes, the Federal Government can only do so much because one of the tenets upon which this country was founded is that each state has the right to govern itself. So, for instance, the Federal Government can NOT enact an outright ban on the ownership of exotic animals in each state across the country. The Fed. Gov't can only ban INTERSTATE SHIPMENT of exotics. Consequently, it's up to each individual state to ban the ownership of such animals.

Having said this, though, know for certain that we'll always keep an ever vigilant eye on what our Federal Government CAN do to protect animals. However, it is crucial that we make sure that each of our STATE governments is stepping up to the plate too.

NOW, the fun part! To find out who are your U.S. Senators and U.S. Representatives, in addition to your STATE Senators and STATE Assemblymembers (remember, this may be named as your State Representative or your State Delegate), please visit .

Once you enter your zip code under both the Federal and State tabs, names and pix of ALL of your particular legislators as well as their contact info. will be readily provided. (Please record for future use; legislative efforts on behalf of animals need ALOT of support this year!) is a lobbyist. This is said so none of you should be daunted or overwhelmed by the prospect of lobbying.

From Kiley:

This is my 2 cents on any lobbying efforts, local or in Albany, that you take on:

You are all already lobbyists. A lobbyist is "One who tries to persuade legislators to vote for bills that the lobbyist favors."

Anyone who has written a letter or made a phone call is a lobbyist. This is said so none of you should be daunted or overwhelmed by the prospect of lobbying.

My recommendation is to lobby from a position of strength and power. Do mental exercises if it helps - imagine you're Donald Trump! Play to win. The politicians will lie and say anything to get rid of you - DON'T GO! Don't ever let them put you off. Liam Mclaughlin, the pres of Yonkers City Council, told a local activist that all hunting issues are done on the state level - and she said 'Okay' and started to walk away. NEVER WALK AWAY. Even if he had been telling the truth (which he wasn't) don't walk away and let them win! Don't even let them THINK they've won.

Argue for the animals, always push the envelope, whether you do it with a smile on your face or not is your business. But if you're smiling, have conviction behind your smile. This movement has been waylaid by the 'be nice, be sweet and go away' faction.

When Paul Feiner originally promised us a traveling animal act ordinance, then tried changed it to him offering to distribute a leaflet that said in effect 'IF the public sees anything unseemly at the Clyde Beatty Circus, THEN he'll consider doing something,' he was expecting the 'be nice and go away' faction that had lobbied him before us - but he got us instead...and we told him NO! No such leaflet will be distributed! You made a promise and you keep it!

Let's take this movement seriously and aim high for the animals. Until we can get our own people in positions of power in the government we don't have many tools - we have our words and our consumerism. Use them to make the politicians consider us a force to be reckoned with.

May your lobbying efforts be blessed and effective!

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