On March 1, some fifth grade students took their capstone research and knowledge to the Connecticut Legislative Office Building to show support for a bill currently under consideration. Several students who are passionate about eliminating puppy mills, wanted to shed light on both the horrible conditions adult dogs and puppies are forced to live in as well as the inhumane treatment that may result in health problems as they get older.
As a follow up to their independent research, Liz Bennett, owner of Bandit’s Place Animal Rescue in Hartland, came in to talk with the kids about how they can be advocates for shelters and rescues and shared her own experiences in the fight against puppy mills. Many students were already familiar with a law passed in California that limits pet stores to only selling animals from a rescue or shelter organization. Liz told the kids that there was work on a similar bill for the state of Connecticut.* A few days later, she sent information to Mrs. LaFlamme about a public hearing regarding this exact bill. The students, in addition to their essays, wrote letters showing their support for the bill and quickly organized a trip to the Capitol to show support with the possibility of offering testimony.
Unfortunately, the agenda for the day was incredibly long and the topic of pet stores and puppy mills was not discussed until much later in the day, but the students got to witness the democratic process in action around a different topic. Although this was not the public hearing they wanted to attend, they did witness state representatives asking questions about other debatable topics that impact the state and saw people give testimony in support or against the bill being debated. In addition, they saw and got to chat with pet storeowners who opposed the bill about the sale of their animals. Overall, it was a great experience.
To wrap up the day, Representative Simanski met with the students and took them on a tour of the State Capitol building and explained how the process they had experienced worked in real life. The fifth graders came back knowing that their topic was bigger than just themselves and that their words can have an impact on the world around them.
* Bill HB-5386 – An act prohibiting the sale or transfer of dogs, cats and rabbits at pet shops that are not from animal welfare organizations.