One of the most successful political channels through which advocates have been able to take a stand for animals in recent years is by securing the passage of local ordinances to regulate or end practices associated with animal cruelty and suffering. But vested interests in a slew of states are pushing bills that threaten this progress, and we’re going toe to toe with them to defeat these measures.

Right now in Arkansas, a bill threatens to severely restrict the right of local jurisdictions to regulate certain activities involving animals. A similar bill is close to passage in Oklahoma. Both bills are only one vote away from passing the legislature.

The bill in Arkansas, H.B. 1833, the “Working Animals Protection Act,” is the result of industry lobbyists asking state lawmakers to interfere with a local government’s authority to regulate “working animals” and “animal enterprise.” It is an undemocratic measure that threatens the self-determination of local citizens and the rights of elected officials to regulate how animals are treated in their communities.

These and related measures are outrageous attempts by state legislatures to curtail the ability of local governments to address the concerns of citizen. They are outrageous attempts by state legislatures to curtail the ability of local governments to address the concerns of citizen. It's also suspicious because the legislators backing such measures can only be doing so at the behest of special interest groups seeking to shut down any scrutiny or regulation of their industries. That’s not in the public interest and it’s certainly not in the interests of animal welfare.

Just as states need the authority to adopt stronger protections than the federal government, local communities must have the right to adopt stronger protections than states if they match the will and values of their residents. Local municipalities are often in a much better position to evaluate and regulate these activities and industries, taking into account specific situations and interests of their residents, human and animal.

Six states (Arkansas, Oklahoma, Iowa, Illinois, Missouri and Texas) have been considering this type of legislation, and it is a threat we’ll confront in those and other states. We’re keeping an eye out, and we’ll meet the challenge wherever and whenever we must.

So much is at stake. Local ordinances have been responsible for ending the sale of puppies from puppy mills in local pet shops, banning the sale of animal products that come from animals raised in inhumane conditions, imposing a standard of care for animals confined in roadside zoos and more. Over 400 animal protection ordinances have passed in the United States in the past five years. And to ensure that similar progress continues, we’ll need to stay vigilant and ready to challenge this latest threat.

The vote on H.B. 1833 could happen any day now. If you live in Arkansas, here’s how you can help.