Wednesday, May 9, 2007

Update on legislation dealing with pets in condos

Citizens for Pets in Condos 2007 legislative session wrap-up

By Maida Genser, Citizens for Pets in Condos

Okay, so we lost this round. The Emotional Support Animal bill never even came up for a vote. Short of getting it passed, I think it may actually be a good thing. It was not summarily dismissed. It was controversial enough to stay out there as an open question, no longer an automatic win for the condo board/condo lawyer lobby!

Here is the good news – our support is growing daily. This is a grass roots effort that went from nothing to almost 10,000 signatures by the start of this legislative season. We now have almost 13,500 signatures. As we get more people on our side our chances for future success are greatly increased. The anti-pet people represent old-think Florida. We are the future and we are in the right. WE WILL PREVAIL. Be assured of that.

Please send a thank you to Representative Julio Robaina for working so hard for our cause. Send copies to your own state-level representative*, and also to the co-sponsors (Reps. Luis Garcia, Yolly Roberson, and Priscilla Taylor) to thank them for working to try to pass HB 1373. Also send a thank you to Senator Alex Villalobos who sponsored S2816, the Senate version of the same bill, and send copies to your own state-level senator*. Click on the links for contact info.

If by any chance you are represented by Representatives Marcus Rubio, speaker of the house, Ellyn Bogdanoff, David Rivera, Ron Reagan, or Andy Gardiner, you may wish to contact them and tell them that you did not appreciate their stalling of HB1373 and you will take that into consideration the next time they run for public office. Representative Ralph Poppell was also a strong opponent and should be called out for his actions. And then, remember their interference next time they are up for office. Do NOT vote for them. As a non-profit corporation, we are not allowed to electioneer/campaign for candidates, but we are allowed to tell people not to vote people who are hurting our cause.

One of the things that I think will help our cause is to build an alliance with League of Humane Voters (LOHV). They are building a data base of contact information to reach out to people about all kinds of pro-animal issues. If you are on their mailing list, you WILL be informed about any animal legislation in Florida . I am considering giving them e-dresses from our mailing list, because helping them will definitely help us. If you have any objection, this is the time to let me know (so I can leave off YOUR e-dress). I will leave this open until the beginning of next month.

I truly believe that getting our message out will lead us to win. Even in no-pet condos, there are many people hiding pets in fear of being found out. If we can reach these people and get enough signatures, WE WILL WIN.

While the Humane Society of the United States (HSUS) and ASPCA and PETA have sorely let us down by choosing NOT to contact their membership about our bill, Animal Rights Foundation of Florida (ARFF) and Florida Pets Network/ DID contact a lot of people for us. Florida Pet Book helped us a lot by continuing to place our ads when we no longer had funds to advertise. Thank you, in general, to all of the collaborating organizations listed on our web site (scroll down a bit on the right side of our main page.) We owe a special thanks to Jan Bergemann and Cyber Citizens for Justice, the condo/HOA reform group that included our bill in their 2007 Community Association bill. If you feel so moved, please thank the people who helped us and send your notes of disapproval to those who did not.

Special honors go to David Shapiro, who joined our board when we became a non-profit corporation in July of 2006. We only had 1300 signatures when he became involved, and we now have well over ten times that many signatures, due to media ads that he personally subsidized and his other tireless efforts. Many thanks to our past board member Kandy Fancher and new board member Carlos Pineiro. Thanks to Barbara Feeney and Barry Silver for working on the wording of our bill. Thanks to Bobby Albre for sending out a press release. Thank you to reporter Jennifer Santiago for speaking up positively for our cause. Thanks to our friends in California who have given us guidance based on their experience getting laws changed in Calilfornia to allow pets in association-run housing. Thanks to the people who have made special efforts to collect signatures: David Shapiro, Carlos Pineiro , Ingrid Este vez, Loretta Hedberg , Laura Richman , Jean and Harry Bergman. Thanks to people who have been spokespersons to the media: David Shapiro, Bobby Albre, Jerry Zelligman, Mariela Rodrigues-Munn, Claudia Krysiak . If I am forgetting anyone, I deeply apologize.

As much as I hate to bring up money, your financial support will help us be able to advertise. David Shapiro and I have put a lot of our own money into this. You can make donations via PayPal to Getting the word out is the answer!

* Click here to find your Florida legislators by zipcode.

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