In 2006, AWI launched the Compassion Index (CI) to provide a real-time legislative system that shows the public how elected officials rate on animal protection issues pending before the US Congress. We are now pleased to announce the site, located at www.compassionindex.org, has been expanded into a full-blown activist resource. The public can still see where Members of Congress stand on animal protection legislation, but visitors will now be able to create targeted emails, letters and faxes to their Senators and Representative—as well as the President and Cabinet and Executive Branch officials.
From the earliest days of AWI, founder Christine Stevens realized the importance of public involvement in the political process—and several of our initiatives have led to some of the largest letter writing campaigns elected officials have ever seen. When journalist and 1961 Albert Schweitzer Award winner Ann Cottrell Free asked President Eisenhower if he would sign the 1958 Humane Slaughter Act, he replied, "If I went by mail, I'd think no one was interested in anything but humane slaughter." Congressional staff members have made similar comments about AWI's campaign to end horse slaughter.
Despite the technically progressive nature of the new CI website, little has changed since AWI's founding in 1951 when it comes to getting through to Members of Congress. Nothing beats a handwritten and heartfelt letter expressing the facts with a personal touch only an individual can provide. By providing a template for visitors' own messages, the expanded site is a complement to the public's ability to monitor Congressional activity and lobby elected officials to ensure they are doing as much as they can for animals.
A new section allows visitors to locate local media outlets, then find reporters interested in stories, send letters to the editor, or simply monitor local news sources for stories about animals. More features to assist constituents in taking action may be added in the future—please bookmark the site and visit it often.
Our updated CI will further AWI's longstanding influence on Capitol Hill, and with the help of constituents like you, we will continue to assist Congress in the passage of laws to benefit animals. If you would like to sign up to receive our "Dear Humanitarian" letters via email, you may enter your contact information through the front page of the CI or the AWI website. When signing up online, please be sure to include your mailing address so we can send you information targeted to your Congressional district. Additionally, if you are not signed up to receive hard copies of our mailings and would like to, please let us know. We are grateful for all of your help! Voicing your perspective to legislators can make a significant impact.