And stay engaged!

Tuesday, November 3, 2020, is Election Day in the United States. Last time I looked, over 85 million people had already voted. If you are one of them, thank you. If not, please get your ballot in.

The winners—especially at the local level—matter more for cats than you might realize.

Way up at the top of ticket, there’s a lot at stake, with passion running high on both sides.  As important and personal as those decisions are, they are not the only ones before you now.

The bulk of policy that impacts cats and dogs in the US is set at the local level—town, city and county. Local officials make decisions on budget allocations and ordinances that directly help, or harm, animals.

Given this, it makes sense to find out where candidates for local office stand on issues that affect cats. We care about cats, and we have a right to have political leaders who do, too.  And here’s the good news: these issues enjoy wide-spread bipartisan support. National polling shows that 87% of Americans prefer Trap-Neuter-Return (TNR) to lethal cat population control schemes.  That’s a statistic every elected official in the country should know.

If you have a chance between now and Tuesday, reach out to the people running for office locally, both incumbents and challengers, and let them know that you support TNR and non-lethal cat population control policies.  Ask if they do, too.

Don’t be discouraged if the candidate does not yet have a position on the matter. Just encourage them to learn more once elected and let them know you’ll be back in touch.  And then, whichever candidates win, follow up with them.

Because as important as elections are, democracy is an ongoing activity, not a single-day event.  Voting is critically important, but government works best for the people when the people engage with it more than once every four years.

The real work in our movement to defend cats is long term.

We are challenging institutional cruelty that has been entrenched for decades upon decades. It starts with putting the right people in positions of power who will help change laws and policies to protect animals, including cats. Then, it involves holding them to it and helping them do it.

All across the nation, individuals and animal groups have their nose to the grindstone to protect cats. I speak with them and hear their stories every single day. And I think about how much more they could accomplish if they had their local governments on their side.

This Tuesday, let’s make inroads on that front. Americans want their local governments to enact TNR.

The challenges of 2020 have left many wondering if there is light at the end of the tunnel, but we can’t forget the power we have as individuals. We can create the world where we want to live. Exercising our right to vote is one of the most effective ways we can impact animals’ lives—and build a society that defends us all.