Lobby Day with the Humane Society was an excellent culmination of the Taking Action for Animals Conference. My day began by leading some citizen lobbyists from the hotel to the Russell Senate Building. 11 fellow Virginians and I strategized on our approach for our joint meeting with Senators Webb and Warner's staff. The meeting went very well. Webb's staffer had some tough questions and wanted data and support, while Warner's staffer was much more warm and fuzzy about our animal issues. Nonetheless, we learned at the end of the meeting that Webb's staffer was shocked by the puppy mill information we provided. He expressed that he was now bnervous about where he and his girlfriend should look to get a puppy. Some of the constituents said I was an excellent leader and well-spoken. I was flattered, and only hope to improve in that respect. I was proud of myself, because I added the public health risks to children regarding unvaccinated and non-dewormed puppies. If someone is not an animal advocate, they usually cannot argue the public health side. It was my version of thinking on my feet and again an outgoing moment for me.
The Rally was fun and the weather, thankfully, was not too hot. Wayne spoke first and got the crowd pumped up. Wendi Mallick, from the TV show "Hot in Cleveland" spoke out on the ROAM Act. The ROAM Act (Restore Our American Mustangs) looks to end round-ups and slaughter of wild horses and burros, by implementing a immunocontraception program.
The Rally concluded with Rep. Jim Moran. I was told beforehand that he is a staunch supporter of our issues, but sometimes goes off on odd tangents during his speeches. This speech was no exception. Toward the end of his speech he started to bash the NRA, which is okay with me and funny, but seemed a little inappropriate.
I missed photo ops with Wendi to rush off to my 1 pm meeting with a staffer from my Rep. Boucher's office. She was very nice and I thanked him for being a co-sponsor on the PUPS Act, and voting in favor of many of our issues. She told me that Boucher heard from his constituents that they were upset about puppy mills and he listened. "All it takes is a few calls from his constituents and he listens and acts, she informed me." I mentioned the upcoming Truth in Fur Labeling House vote (which passed yesterday!), and started awareness on the Prevention of Equine Cruelty Act. As many people are, the staffer was outraged that some of her faux fur, is quite possibly real fur. Thank goodness for consumer protection loopholes.
After my last meeting, I walked back to our home base in Russell 385 and felt a slight let down that it was all over for the day. I really enjoyed meeting with the offices and felt for the first time what democracy can feel like. To be able to make an appointment and walk into my senators or congressman's office and voice my opinion was amazing. It would never happen in China.