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Thursday, July 10, 2008

Take Action for Animals Next Weekend

I’m writing this blog on a cross-country flight to California, where I will spend the next few days working on the Proposition 2 campaign. Sitting in a middle seat often reminds me of what it’s like for farm animals crammed into gestation crates and battery cages where they can barely move for their entire lives. But the long flights also remind me of what members of Congress endure—especially those from the west coast who travel back and forth between the nation’s capital and their home districts every weekend. It’s a grueling schedule, and they endure it in order to work for their constituents and to shape public policy.

Animal advocates don’t have to travel to Washington, D.C. every weekend, but they should make the journey once a year. Next weekend (July 19-21) is the fourth annual Taking Action for Animals conference, and it’s the largest and most important event in this field. Last year, 1,000 advocates from all over the United States gathered for the meeting, and this year’s turnout is expected to be even bigger. I hope you will register for the conference and join me there.

Babyspuppymillsbusside_3 Over the weekend, you’ll hear about animal protection issues and strategies from more than 75 renowned speakers and experts in the field, including U.S. Congressman Earl Blumenauer (D-Ore.), HSUS president Wayne Pacelle, Oakland Raiders safety Jarrod Cooper, Skinny Bitch author Rory Freedman, political consultant Joe Trippi, and many others. More than 50 nonprofit organizations and animal-related businesses will fill the exhibit hall. A vegan banquet dinner will be hosted by comedian Carol Leifer and feature entertainment by the comedy satire troupe The Capitol Steps.

Then on Monday, hundreds of advocates will descend on the U.S. Capitol to lobby their own representatives and senators on critical animal protection legislation—from horse slaughter to fur labeling to chimpanzees in research. You can also take part in a rally at the Capitol to stop puppy mills, led by author Jana Kohl and her rescued poodle, Baby, who survived nearly a decade as a breeding dog in a puppy mill and had her leg amputated after the misery she endured.

With the awareness raised by Oprah Winfrey’s show on puppy mills, the Michael Vick dogfighting case, and the nation’s largest beef recall, animal issues are part of the political agenda like never before. And with the upcoming elections, so much is at stake for animals—from factory farming in California to greyhound racing in Massachusetts, and all the candidate races in between.

It’s more important than ever that animal advocates get involved and take action, and this is the best opportunity this year for seasoned activists to sharpen their skills, for new advocates to learn more about the issues, and for all of us to unite and share information and resources. It’s not too late—click here to register, and I look forward to taking action with you next weekend.

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