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March 31, 2009

Rally at Vermont Capitol Urging Lawmakers to Protect Pets, Coyotes

The Humane Society of the United States

Citizens from across Vermont will assemble at the state capitol today to rally in support of animal protection legislation and to meet with lawmakers to urge them to pass to H. 6, a bill that would create better protection for animals and children against antifreeze poisoning, and S. 113, a bill that would criminalize coyote contest derbies. The citizen lobbyists will be joined by Joanne Bourbeau, The HSUS' Vermont senior state director. Humane Lobby Day is sponsored by The Humane Society of the United States, the Vermont Humane Federation and the Vermont Law School Student Animal Legal Defense Fund Chapter.

The day will start with a one-hour legislative briefing at the Pavilion Office Building followed by lobbying at the capitol. Legislators sponsoring pro-animal bills and other dignitaries have been invited to address the gathering. Sen. Claire Ayer, D-Addison, is the prime sponsor for the coyote bill, and Rep. Tony Klein, D-Washington-7(1), is the prime sponsor for the antifreeze bill, which has already passed the House and awaits action in the Senate.

"Vermonters care deeply about animals and animal welfare issues, and this is a unique opportunity for them to communicate directly with their own lawmakers about their concerns," Bourbeau said. "Our participants are coming from across the state with varied backgrounds, but the one thing we all have in common is a desire to protect animals from neglect and abuse."

Citizen lobbyists will ask their state legislators to pass H. 6 and S. 113. Seven states — Arizona, California, Maine, New Mexico, Oregon, Tennessee and Washington — have successfully passed legislation requiring that a bittering agent be added to ethylene glycol antifreeze to make it unpalatable for animals and children. According to the Northern New England Poison Center, 72 people, 11 dogs and three cats were adversely exposed to antifreeze in Vermont from 2005 to 2008.

Coyote derbies have been allowed to continue in the state despite outrage from hunters and non-hunters alike over these macabre events in which prizes are awarded based on size, quality or number of animals taken. The Vermont Fish and Wildlife Board has chosen not to address the derby issue directly through their rule-making authority. Legislation is needed to resolve the issue once and for all. 

Winners of The HSUS' Vermont Legislative Pet Photo Contest will be announced, and the animals' pictures will be displayed all day in the front entrance area of the statehouse. 

Last year, state legislatures across the country passed 93 new laws for animals. The HSUS works with animal advocates and state legislators across the country to enact laws protecting animals from cruelty, combating animal fighting, halting wildlife abuse and more.

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The Humane Society of the United States is the nation's largest animal protection organization — backed by 11 million Americans, or one of every 28. For more than a half-century, The HSUS has been fighting for the protection of all animals through advocacy, education and hands-on programs. Celebrating animals and confronting cruelty — On the web at humanesociety.org

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