Friday, September 17, 2010

I Live, I Breathe, I Vote

Tuesday night was primary election night in Wisconsin. Now it is only 48 more days until November 2 - Election Day, the day we have the privilege and obligation to select new people to represent us in government.  I am a new American  (six years) and I am proud to be a citizen of this great country. I am amazed by how many people take voting for granted, don't bother to do it, and then complain for the next four years about the way things have turned out.

I am the director of Wisconsin Voters for Companion Animals - a grass-roots organization which supports fair and reasonable laws that will protect our pets and advance humane legislation in our state. We track legislation, provide voting records for state legislators, and question the candidates for upcoming elections. We do not endorse candidates. We simply provide the information on our website for voters to make informed voting decisions.

This fall we know that the economy and the budget are the big issues at the polls.  Will our companion animal issues even get the time of day? I should hope so. It's all a part of the big picture. This is not the time for shortsightedness.

According to the American Pet Products Association, 62 percent of U.S. households have pets. Pets and pet supplies were a 45.5 billion dollar industry in 2009. (And this does not include the recreational horse industry which we also consider as companion animals). There was no decrease in spending during the recession on pets - and it is predicted that 2010 will bring another  $2 billion increase in sales. So anyone who argues that "pet issues are insignificant" had better look at the facts.

Companion animals directly affect the quality of our lives. Just a few of many significant points:
  • Seniors with pets have lower health care costs.
  • We know there is a direct link between cruelty to animals and domestic violence.
  • We know that most serial killers abused animals first.
  • We know that most puppy millers do not pay sales taxes.
  • We know that poor animal control policies and laws cost the taxpayer money.
I love when I have tools available that I can use to show the lawmakers how good animal welfare policies and laws actually SAVE the government and taxpayers' money.  Two examples are fiscal estimators developed by Best Friends Animal Society. With the punch of a few buttons, these tools calculate the costs to communities on two different issues.

The first is the Breed Discriminatory Fiscal Impact calculator.  It shows how much a breed specific law (such as a pit bull ban) will cost a community to implement. The second is a TNR fiscal estimator. This shows that a well-run Trap Neuter Return program for feral cats will actually save a municipality money over the "catch and kill" method that is often used and does not work.

Wisconsin Voters for Companion Animals does not represent a bunch of animal rights fanatics that think animals have more rights than people. We do not have a hidden vegetarian, vegan or anti-hunting/fishing agenda. We are a bi-partisan group of fair-minded people with legitimate concerns about the humane treatment of  companion animals in our state.  I spoke with one assembly candidate who said he didn't want to be the puppet of a special interest group. We are not asking for a puppet. We're asking for our lawmakers to listen, consider our position and represent us fairly.

"Bad officials are elected by good citizens who do not vote.” - George Jean Nathan


  1. Beautifully written. America is lucky to gain you as a citizen.

  2. Excellent reminder of how important it is for us to get informed and use the tools we have, our votes, to make our communities better.