The Active Activist
From Animal Rights/Vegan Activist Strategies Articles Archive

FROM Michelle Rivera - [email protected]

So you are a vegan who attends, (maybe even organizes) all the animal-rights demonstrations in your area, good for you! You have enlightened your friends and educated them by showing The Witness, The Dignity of Chickens, Meet your Meat and other videos with all kinds of graphic descriptions of slaughter houses and battery farms, puppy mills and steel-jaw leghold traps, excellent!

You are using your computer to find information and send the news to friends all over the country, and you are a card-carrying member of PeTA, HSUS and the Farm Animal Reform Movement. You are on your way to being a very effective activist! But there is one tool that is too often overlooked. 

Your right to vote. Now wait! Before you decide that this is one of those "do the responsible thing" articles, like the articles we see on wearing our seat belts, replacing our fire-alarm batteries and performing routine self-breast exams, hold on. While seat belts, fire alarms and breast exams may save OUR life, exercising your right to vote may save the life of an animal.

Now we're talking!

When you read your action alerts and follow the instructions to "write your senator" about pending legislation, you are doing the animals a great service. However, if you cannot honestly start out your letter with the words "Dear Senator, I am a registered voter in your district," (believe me, they check) your letter may be falling on deaf ears. Unless you have the power to put a person in office, or get 'em out, you are powerless. Exercising your right to vote won't just get your legislators attention, it will help us put people in power that can help the animals. Senator Barbara Boxer, Senator Joseph Biden and Congressman Peter Deutsch are all people who have sponsored very important legislation on behalf of the animals. Who gave them that power? We did. Voters. And if you aren't a registered voter, you are not using your voice in the manner most effective for the animals.

So do it. Become a registered voter. The NRA's enormous power comes from the fact that they are a huge voting block.

But when you write that letter to your representative, make sure you have all your facts straight. Recently, a friend of mine who works for a television station received an "alert" from a very large, well-known Animal Rights Organization (no, not Peta). This organization was alleging that our Senator was working behind the scenes to get Keiko (remember him? Free Willy fame?) back in a marine park! This producer friend of mine thought this was a little fishy (no pun intended!) and checked with a colleague of hers who happens to work for this senator. There was absolutely no truth to the rumor, and when this national organization was asked where they got their information, the e-mails and letters suddenly stopped. Another example: I recently got an e mail that had been forwarded and forwarded and forwarded (you get the picture) all around the net about a kitten allegedly dying due to a malfunction in the Litter Maid litter box. This is the self-cleaning litter box that people like me rely on to keep my dog from engaging in snacking on cat poo and my cats happy while I am away. When I received the e-mail I immediately called Litter Maid and found that the story is quite unsubstantiated. Litter Maid had heard of the complaint, but the person claiming the dead kitten had not offered any proof, no vet statements, no return of merchandise, nothing. And, in fact, there is a back story to that story that makes it all sound very suspect. But that's a different story!

So, in summary, to be a good activist in your community, first be a registered voter. I cannot stress this enough. Start with a visit to Humane USA PAC [or League Of Humane Voters] and follow their links for voter information and sign up for their e-mail alerts for legislative action. Check your facts and be sure you have them straight. It's always a good idea to research issues on your own rather than leave it to the interpretation and decisions of others who may have agendas that are different from your own. This way, you can say "I saw it for myself! I looked into this myself and this is what I found!" Who can argue with that?

Next, know who your elected officials are. Make an appointment and go visit them as the local animal activist in their district. Do this with everyone from the chief of police to the mayor to the local television producers to the director of animal regulation. Attend counsel meetings to be sure decisions are not being made that impact the lives of wild animals or feral cats. Stay involved. Be the noise that your representatives cannot ignore, the person people call on for local animal issues and the voice for animals in your own backyard. Keep informed, keep interested, and keep writing and voting.

Return to: Animal Rights Activism
Return to: Animal Rights/Vegan Activist Strategies