It’s Pit Bull Awareness Month, so go vote!

By Julie Castle

As a Best Friends supporter, you no doubt understand the importance of educating elected officials. We hope you are one of our 16,245 2025 Action Team members, or one of the 25,022 advocates who called or emailed your legislators in response to our action alerts this year.

We hope you were able to realize the power of that action by celebrating one of the many wins for animals in 2020. Perhaps you live in one of the 35 communities that enacted retail pet sales bans for kittens and puppies as part of our puppy mill initiatives. Or perhaps you’re a resident of Georgia and took a stand with Best Friends to see that local ordinances were changed and programs were added across the state, paving the way for essential trap-neuter-return (TNR) programs and funding for community cats. (This Georgia effort, by the way, resulted in the largest overall lifesaving increase in the country.)

Many of you know how important it is to use your voice for the animals when it comes to legislative advocacy. But voting to help animals? You may not see the connection. And if you’re feeling a bit turned off by the electoral process, you’re not alone. Sadly, the U.S. lands near the bottom for voter turnout in developed countries. These are uncertain times and many feel powerless about changing their circumstances.

However, let me assure you that your voice matters for the animals. And now more than ever, I implore you to participate in this right to shape our democracy. Indeed, to ensure that we have the opportunity to make this world a kinder place. So many lives, both human and animal, are counting on you to exercise your right to vote.

To be an animal advocate without voting would be like running your own business but letting complete strangers hire your employees. We should all be invested in the process that gets the best humans in office to save America’s homeless pets. Humans who are committed to saving each and every pet at risk and keeping pets and families together. If we elect compassionate lawmakers, we don’t have to work as hard once they’re in office to lobby and educate them.

At all levels of government, decisions are made that impact animals. Sheriffs who enforce animal protection laws are elected. City council members and county commissioners who determine the budgets and regulations for animal shelters are elected. In Texas, the Commissioners Court and the county judge who presides over it, governing county business and animal shelters, are elected.

These local bodies are perhaps the most impactful in legislating for animals. Sure, voter turnout is highest in presidential election years, but for thousands of animals waiting for someone to save their lives in an animal shelter right this minute, voting all the way down the ballot is imperative to lifesaving.

If you’ve researched your candidates and you’re not sure where they stand on the issues that matter most to you, ask them directly. Nearly all candidates are holding virtual town hall meetings or have contact forms that encourage voter dialogue. Admittedly, you may not find a candidate who matches your exact fervor on all things, but that’s no reason to stay home. Incremental change is the pathway to fundamental change. Please don’t let perfection get in the way of progress. If you’re still hard-pressed to support a candidate, maybe next time it will be your turn to run for office.

Regardless, the people you see on your ballot today made the brave decision to be public servants, and one of them will be your newly elected official, like it or not. The animals can’t make the best choices for themselves, so it’s up to you to be their voice.

Here’s what you can do:

  • Register to vote. In many states, it’s not too late, and some states even allow election day registration.
  • Make a plan for how you’ll vote. Will you vote at the polls or by absentee ballot? If the latter, do you know where the drop-off locations are? If you’re mailing your ballot, what’s the date by which your ballot envelope must be postmarked?
  • Research your candidates.
  • VOTE! Many states are open for early voting now.

So, back to the original question: How can you help pit bulls by voting? By sending a legislator committed to ending breed-discriminatory laws to the legislature to enact legislation that helps keep pets safe and families together.

Together, we can Save Them All.

Julie Castle


Best Friends Animal Society