How to Help: Advocate

According to Webster’s Dictionary “Advocate” means to “plead in favor of” and someone who is in advocate is defined as “1-one that pleads the cause of another; 2- one that defends or maintains a cause or proposal 3-one that supports or promotes the interests of another.”

While we are not all able to adopt or foster an animal and perhaps can’t donate our time or money at this season of life, we all have a voice and can use it to advocate for those who can’t speak for themselves.

Levels of Involvement:
Like in any arena you can choose your involvement level from simply being a responsible pet owner to actively lobbying for policy reform on Capitol Hill. No matter what level of involvement you choose, you are making a powerful difference for animals.

Here are three ways you can make a meaningful difference.

1. Be a responsible pet owner and provide a good example for others.

Care for your animals with proper food, exercise, shelter, medical treatments (heart worm, flea and tick prevention, yearly vet appointments) and love.

On the Catalyst Council website there is a downloadable owners guide for cats written by Steve Dale and Amy Shojai called “CATegorical Care: An Owner’s Guide to America’s #1 Companion

Other educational websites with articles on health and care include Doctors Foster and Smith Pet Education, ASPCA and Dogster.

2. Learn how to recognize animal cruelty and report any incidents. Educate others.

The ASPCA reports on their website that “every 10- seconds and animal is abused or beaten.” They also offer several helpful articles on how to recognize abuse and how to report it. In this area I am referring you to those who professionally deal with it.

How to Recognize Cruelty

Tips for Reporting Animal Cruelty

Where you Report abuse/cruelty in Middle Tennessee:
The reporting structure varies per location so find out who to call. Most animal control agencies or local police departments will be able to guide you the appropriate office.

In Middle Tennessee, if you want to report animal cruelty, here are the appropriate contacts:
Cheatham County: Cheatham County Animal Control (615) 792-3647
Davidson County: Metro Animal Care and Control (615) 862-7928
Dickson County: (615) 441-9591 central dispatch, also call (615)?
Montgomery County: Montgomery County Animal Control (931) 648-5750
Robertson County: Robertson County Animal Control (615) 384-5611
Rutherford County: Rutherford County PAWS (615) 898-7740
Sumner County: Sumner County Sheriff’s Office Animal Control Division (615) 452-2400 handles Goodlettsville, Millersville, Mitchellville, Westmoreland and outside city limits of Gallatin, Hendersonville, Portland and White House.
Within city limits:
Gallatin Animal Control (615) 451-5949
Hendersonville Animal Control (615) 264-5355
Portland Animal Control (615) 325-5330
White House?
Williamson County: Williamson County Animal Control (615) 790-5590
Wilson County: Wilson County Animal Control (615) 444-9775 handles Watertown, Old Hickory and outside city limits of Lebanon and Mt. Juliet.
Within city limits:
Lebanon Animal Control (615) 444-0825
Mt. Juliet Animal Control (615) 773-5533

There is also a website called that tracks cases in the system so you can follow them. Just reading the titles of the cases can be disturbing.

3. Join a campaign or start your own to help change state and national laws.

Lastly, you can be engaged in lobbying for policy changes by staying informed and using your voice. You can help to change local and national laws affecting puppy mills, hoarding, dog fighting, tethering and more. The following three organizations are just examples of large business animal advocates that are lobbying for animals. For more organizations and ways to help just search animal welfare organizations. Each have ways to subscribe for news alerts and ways to help keep you informed on how to help.

National Organizations:
ASPCA, American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals
“Founded in 1866, the ASPCA was the first humane organization in the Western Hemisphere. Our mission, as stated by founder Henry Bergh, is “to provide effective means for the prevention of cruelty to animals throughout the United States.” The ASPCA works to rescue animals from abuse, pass humane laws and share resources with shelters nationwide.”

At the ASPCA you can join their Advocacy Brigade to receive email alerts when help is needed lobbying for local reform. You can help by sending emails to local legislators and encourage them to pass animal protection laws.
Take the ASPCA Animal Abuse-pledge!

The Humane Association of the United States, HSUS
“The Humane Society of the United States is the nation’s largest and most effective animal protection organization—backed by 11 million Americans, or one in every 28. Established in 1954, The HSUS seeks a humane and sustainable world for all animals—a world that will also benefit people. We are America’s mainstream force against cruelty, exploitation and neglect, as well as the most trusted voice extolling the human-animal bond.”

Their mission statement is “Celebrating Animals, Confronting Cruelty” and they have an entire section on taking action. They also have a “toolkit” of downloadable articles to help those interested become better advocates.

I really like that there is a section that shows what Federal and State Legislation initiatives are underway.

They also released a 2011 “Humane State Ranking,” “a comprehensive report rating all 50 states and DC on a wide range of animal protection laws on issues ranging from animal fighting to farm animals to wildlife to companion animals and the state of Tennessee was ranked 24. A follow up article shows the cases of The HSUS involvement in Tennessee, Timeline of aid “Working for Change in Tennessee, August 10, 2011.

These two organizations demonstrate how individuals can join the ranks to help lobby on capital hill and bring about state and national reform. For other national organizations, click here or do your own web search. In addition, there are local ways you can help.

Local opportunities to help.
Each week this website will feature an article “in the news” section which will include ways to advocate for animals in Middle Tennessee. In addition, there are many welfare groups in the area that would love support and help with their programs (dog tethering, spay and neuter programs, food programs, etc). There is also an additional list of area spay and neuter programs that would love support.

You can be an advocate!
Whether you are simply being a responsible and caring pet owner or you choose to actively lobby for policy reform you can make a big difference locally and nationally for animals. I hope this article and website also helps equip you with tools and resources to help you stay informed and help whenever able. Thank you in advance for your willing hearts, voice and hands.

Additional Resources:
List of Welfare Groups, list_welfare_groups
List Spay Neuter Programs, list_spay_neuter
List of Shelters/Humane Organizations, list_animal_shelters
List of Rescue Groups, list_rescue_groups

The Humane Society of the United States “toolkit” of downloadable articles to help those interested become better advocates

PETA’s Guide to Becoming an Activist