by Amie Sites
LOGANSPORT — While animal lovers who gathered Monday evening had a variety of reasons for showing up, they all had a common goal: to stop animal cruelty.
The topic was one of the reason Erin Huang, Indiana director of the Humane Society of the United States, spoke at a free animal seminar Monday at the Logansport Public Library.
She spoke with those gathered about how to be an advocate against animal abuse as well as how to help control feral animals.
Huang spoke mostly of ways to take action with the help of state representatives.
"My goal is to educate and show how to become an effective advocate," Huang said. "I think it's also important to show issues specific to Indiana."
Although different types of advocacy were discussed — including peer-to-peer and protest — the focus was on education and legislation.
Legislation will help legitimize animal protection, Huang said. People who attended learned ways to effectively communicate with a state representative regarding specific concerns.
Huang, who became the Indiana director in January, talked about some of the state laws in place, including animal cruelty laws, wildlife laws related to hunting and trapping, animal control and regulation of puppy mills.
Of the 10 community members who attended, some said they simply loved animals and wanted a chance to be educated on them. Others wanted to put a stop to factory farming and to find out what can be done to stop animals from being abused.
For Katie Williams, who traveled 90 minutes to attend, it's about wanting to take a career path in animal advocacy. Williams said she was involved in animal rights in the 1990s and then took a break.
"You get to where you think you're hitting a brick wall," Williams said. "The concern I have is still there.
"It's good to meet people and see there are other people fighting the same fight," she said. "That is the key to not burning out."
Some issues raised were the creation of a statewide spay and neuter fund.
"Indiana has a crisis with the number of healthy and unwanted companion animals," Huang said.
Huang said people should ask lawmakers to look into a fund that would allow free spay and neuter clinics.
Another issue discussed was canned hunting, which is the practice of killing semi-tame animals inside a high fence enclosure. In the past few years, a law to legalize canned hunting was proposed, Huang said.
Huang urged those who attended to call lawmakers and schedule district office meetings, especially when the Legislature is out of session. She also urged them to volunteer at a local organization or shelter and take action on state and federal legislation. She also urged people to be friendly advocates.
"You're doing yourself a disservice by coming in angry and pointing a finger," Huang said. "Be the best advocate you can be."
Those interested in finding out more can email Huang at email@example.com.
Amie Sites is a staff reporter at the Pharos-Tribune. She can be reached at 574-732-5117 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow her: @PharosAES.