I met 14-year-old San Diego student Ben Byrom last year, when he was volunteering for the campaign to pass Proposition 2 and ban inhumane factory farming practices. Ben was too young to circulate petitions himself because he wasn’t a registered voter, but he helped his parents gather signatures to put Prop 2 on the ballot, mailed volunteer packets, worked booths at events, and eloquently made his case to voters. He’s an articulate and well-informed advocate, and he also educated his classmates and teachers during class.
Ben lives his beliefs each day, and continues to make a difference in his community. He has volunteered for groups like Animal Acres and the Animal Protection and Rescue League, and he has contacted local politicians to help the seal pups and their mothers of Children's Pool Beach in La Jolla, Calif. For his leadership and work on a wide range of animal protection issues, he was named the “2009 Humane Teen of the Year” by Humane Society Youth.
Ben is taking another step to continue his advocacy for animals today in California. He is sending a letter to Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, urging him to sign two important animal protection bills on his desk—A.B. 241 to curb abuses at puppy mills by limiting to 50 the number of adult breeding dogs or cats confined in large-scale commercial operations, and S.B. 135 to ban the painful and unnecessary tail docking of dairy cows. Ben is dropping his letter in the mail at a downtown post office, with reporters in tow so that he can generate public awareness and spread the word to other Californians.
One of the long-term benefits of a statewide campaign like Prop 2 is not only that it results in a tangible public policy reform for millions of animals, but also that it rallies animal advocates around political change and that same group of dedicated people can continue to organize for other animal protection issues. The statewide network of advocates who helped Prop 2 sail to victory last year remained in place and helped to pass a number of animal protection bills this year in the California legislature—on puppy mills, dogfighting, factory farming, wildlife poaching, and other subjects.
And when young people like Ben get involved, they continue to have an impact for animals in the years to come. I’ve pasted Ben’s letter to the governor below, and I congratulate him on his effective advocacy for animals.
Dear Governor Schwarzenegger,
My name is Ben Byrom. I am 14 years old, and I am a volunteer for many animal protection causes in San Diego where I live. I volunteer for the Animal Protection and Rescue League and worked on the Yes on Prop 2 campaign to ensure that farm animals in California are able to turn around and extend their limbs. I also help protect the seals in La Jolla and recently won the Humane Teen of the Year award from the Humane Society of the United States.
As my Governor, you have the ability right now to help a lot of animals by signing A.B. 241 and S.B. 135.
S.B. 135 would ban tail docking of dairy cows, which is the very cruel and inhumane practice of cutting off a cow's tail for really no reason at all. I don’t understand why anyone would want to cut a cow’s tail off, but they shouldn’t be allowed to do it. Not only does it hurt a lot to have part of your body cut off without any painkiller, but these cows need their tails to prevent attacks from biting flies. It’s just wrong to take their tails away from them.
A.B. 241 would crack down on puppy mills by limiting the number of breeding dogs or cats people can own. In these puppy mills, lots of dogs are kept for their whole lives in really bad conditions and they never get to be part of a family. I have read that you’re a dog lover like me, and so I know you wouldn’t want lots of dogs suffering in California. You can help them by signing this bill.
Neither of these bills will cost the state any money.
On behalf of other kids like me that care about how animals are treated in California, please sign both of these important bills.