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March 14, 2013

Humane Lobby Day Kicks Off in Austin with Special Guest Kyle Chandler and Daughter Sawyer

Texas animal advocates lobby lawmakers on sharks, shelter animals and dangerous wild animals

  • HSUS Texas State Director Katie Jarl, shark advocates Sam Matheiu and Sawyer Chandler, and Emmy-winning actor Kyle Chandler at Texas Humane Lobby Day. JP Bonnelly

  • Kyle Chandler addressing the congregation at Texas Humane Lobby Day. JP Bonnelly

  • Kyle Chandler, Sam Matheiu, Sawyer Chandler and Katie Jarl with Rep. Eddie Lucio III at Texas Humane Lobby Day. JP Bonnelly

  • Kyle Chandler, Sawyer Chandler and Sam Matheiu with Rep. Todd Hunter at Texas Humane Lobby Day. JP Bonnelly

Texans concerned about animal welfare converged on the state capitol for Humane Lobby Day to meet with lawmakers and lobby for better animal protection laws. The Humane Society of the United States, The ASPCA® (The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals®) and the Texas Humane Legislation Network (THLN) sponsored Humane Lobby Day.

Kyle Chandler, star of “Friday Night Lights,” Oscar-winning “Argo” and “Zero Dark Thirty,” and his 11-year-old daughter, Sawyer, were also in attendance to support bills to end the Lone Star State’s contribution to the cruel and unsustainable global shark fin trade. Sawyer Chandler, who addressed the Humane Lobby Day attendees, started a website and petition to speak out about threats against sharks and advocate for them through the political process. Her dedication to this issue sparked her father’s interest, and her work was recently highlighted on The Ellen DeGeneres Show.

Katie Jarl, Texas state director for The HSUS said: “Texans care deeply about animal welfare issues and Humane Lobby Day is all about bringing together concerned advocates and letting our lawmakers know that we count on their support for these key bills to protect animals. Animal welfare is a bipartisan issue that attracts people of all ages, and from across our state, and I am pleased that children and adults alike have joined in our efforts.”

Humane Lobby Day participants met with their state legislators to lobby in support of several animal welfare bills, including bills to prohibit the sale, trade, purchase and transportation of shark fins in Texas, HB 852/SB 572, by Rep. Eddie Lucio III, D-District 38, and Sen. Larry Taylor, R-District 11. Shark finning involves cutting off the fins of sharks then throwing the shark back into the ocean, often while still alive, only to drown, starve or die a slow death due to predation from other animals. Some species of shark are on the brink of extinction due to the cruel and exploitive shark fin industry.

Deborah Foote, state legislative director of ASPCA Government Relations for the Southwest region said: “Humane Lobby Day affords citizens the opportunity to engage with their representatives in an open forum to discuss the importance of protecting animals through legislation. Concerned citizens from across Texas came out to advocate on behalf of animals today and we look forward to working with lawmakers to ensure the successful passage of stronger animal welfare legislation in 2013.”

Participants also asked legislators to support bills that would prohibit the private ownership of big cats and certain primates in counties with populations exceeding 75,000. The bills, HB 1015 and SB 1627, are sponsored by Rep. Ryan Guillen, D-31 and Sen. Lucio D-27. Additionally, advocates lobbied on behalf of bills that would ban gas chamber euthanasia for shelter dogs and cats. The bills, HB 858 and SB 360, are sponsored by Rep. Eddie Lucio III, D-38, and Sen. Kirk Watson, D-District 14.

Shelby Bobosky, vice president and legislative co-chairman for THLN said: "THLN counts on Texas animal advocates to help inform and educate their legislators while advocating for pending animal welfare legislation. This Humane Lobby Day, Texas animal advocates did not disappoint.  As constituents, they were not only well informed on the bills, but made excellent presentations for their passage."

Texas ranks 28th in The Humane Society of the United States’ 2012 “Humane State Rankings,” which grades each state based on a wide range of animal protection laws dealing with pets, animal cruelty and fighting, wildlife, animals in research, horses and farm animals. Texas has some strong animal protection laws, but there is plenty of room for improvement.

Media Contacts:

The HSUS: Niki Ianni, 301-548-7793, nianni@humanesociety.org

The ASPCA: Maureen Linehan, 646-706-4602, maureen.linehan@aspca.org

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