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Petitioning Texas Governor Greg Abbott

30 Day Hold from Euthanasia for Harvey Animals in Texas

We are writing this petition, in hopes of having a mandatory 30 day hold for all displaced animals in all Texas shelters due to Hurricane Harvey and for any other area disasters in Texas in the future. With a disaster of this magnitude there are still many stranded, homeless and devastated people and families who were separated from their pets due to the flood waters, destroyed homes, and the rescue process. Numerous people are still without cars, transportation or the means to locate their pets.  OVERVIEW: The animal situation in Houston and Texas is dire. Dozens of thousands of strays, at one point conservatively estimated at 1.2 million, were on the streets  before Hurricane Harvey. There are few laws about breeding, selling or spaying/neutering animals with little or no enforcement of any laws that do exist. Backyard breeding and dog fighting, especially involving the bully breeds, is rampant. Dogs and puppies are sold openly out of cars in parking lots. The Houston SPCA (HSPCA) is overwhelmed with the many reports of cruelty as animals are dumped and wander the streets. Only a couple of places offer low cost spay/neuter and there are few if no free clinics. Shelters are already over-crowded and animals can be killed in 3 days under city law if strays/owner surrenders are not adopted out. Thousands and thousands DIE yearly. This is true for Harris County, Brazoria County, Ft. Bend, Montgomery, and Galveston County which can all be considered part of the greater Houston area as they are bedroom communities to Houston. THE NEED FOR A 30 DAY HOLD FOR HARVEY ANIMALS: There is no current legislation protecting displaced animals for longer than the typical 3 day hold time at government animal control shelters during a disaster - meaning an animal coming into a county or municipal or any animal shelter could be legally euthanized after only 72 hours. People report that FEMA: (https://www.fema.gov/pdf/conferences/iaconference/2010/wednesday_830am_household_pets_intro_1.pdf - Page 7) and the Federal PETS Act: (http://www.akc.org/content/news/articles/federal-pets-act-information/ ) require hold times for 30 days or more in a disaster area to reunite people with pets. However, we have found no written documentation or information that supports this and have learned there is no mandate to hold animals in a government animal control/shelter for longer than usual hold times of 3 days (72 hours) during a disaster. It is each animal shelter's discretion in the State of Texas as to whether they extend the hold time or not. Houston is the 4th largest city in the United States and has numerous animal shelters located in different areas for families to locate their pet. But, to our knowledge, NONE of the government animal control animal shelters are no kill shelters. There are only 2 no kill animal shelters in and around the Houston area, both of which are private shelters - Friends for Life and Special Pals. Many animals that came in at the beginning of Harvey are already out of "time" and legally can be, have been, and are being euthanized at this very moment. Indeed, some unfortunate animals are rapidly approaching their 30 day hold limit for shelters that did agree to give the 30 days. There are unimaginable numbers of displaced animals and Austin Pets Alive nonprofit has already taken in more than 1000 displaced pets from Hurricane Harvey and expects to reach 2000 soon if not more. Many local nonprofit organizations and out of town rescue groups and nonprofits such as Best Friends Animal Society are doing all they can to rescue and care for thousands of Texas animals, with many more to be rescued - hopefully to be reunited with their families or placed into new homes if the families cannot take them. However, this time limit is tremendously challenging for people who have already lost so much. Record-keeping of the displaced animals appears to be chaotic and animals are being transferred out of town/area, making it even more difficult for people to simply LOCATE their pet. Government animal shelters requirement to only hold displaced Harvey animals for 3 days is, in our opinion, inhumane for both the animals and their families who have likely lost everything. Rescue groups cannot even plan to save these animals or transfer them to safety or to fosters if they are rushed to euthanasia in just 3 days. Found animals are now being directed to BARC or HSPCA - the kill shelters now! There are still thousands of injured and/or stray animals. The City of Houston does not want to address these problems. Ignoring the problem will not resolve the issues. Right now individuals and rescues are desperately forming groups and transport chains to try to pull dogs/cats and get them to safety - but the numbers are staggering....and overwhelming and they are running out of time in many cases. It's extremely challenging, if not impossible, to reunite animals with only a 3 day hold, or even the 30 day hold that is soon ending. Many are elderly people who cannot get to computers to search through the multiple difficult data bases to look for an animal they may be missing, and in many cases animals are not even showing up in the data bases. A better system must ultimately be put into place so this does not happen again. One database for all animals involved would help, better evacuation plans and shelters taking pets would help, suspending euthanizing at local shelters while animals are moved to rescues or foster groups would help, mainstreaming and keeping records to where animals are moved would help. In short, a greater discussion must be had very soon about the problem with the over pet population in the greater Houston area and surrounding counties, along with what to do in these emergencies.  In the meantime, we are asking the State of Texas, and the animal shelters for The City of Houston, Harris County, Brazoria County, Ft. Bend County, Montgomery County, Galveston County and all the surrounding cities and areas affected by Hurricane Harvey to PLEASE have compassion for these animals and their families. Please give them a chance to reunite with their families if they can be, by instituting a state-wide minimum 30 day hold, for the sake of the Harvey victims and their beloved pets. Thank you. Signed, The Righteous Paws Group (formerly The Go Team Rescue Group) Wendy Thompson, Mia Bendixsen Shorey, Sheri Boyd Haynes, Godiva K. Guillory, Lisa Carroll, Tara Taheri, Francene Chlon Weber, Chrystal Spencer, Rebecca Kornblum, Sallie Humphries, Deanna L. Lopez, Jimisu Balko, Tina Eilders, Ashley Cyrena Johnson Photo Credit: Nancy Wilmont. Photo taken of actual Hurricane Harvey displaced dogs rescued by Angie Shawn Sanchez. Angie rescued the lucky mom and 10 puppies and currently is caring for all of them. The photo was taken when the pups were loaded into her car. Shelters in Corpus Christi where these dogs are located are able to euthanize in 3 days. Another mom and her pups was picked up by the county shelter the same day. They were euthanized. 

Mia Bendixsen Shorey
334,305 supporters
Petitioning Dan Patrick

Healthcare for Retired and Active Teachers

Recent changes, voted on by our elected officials, have escalated the price of health insurance for educators in Texas.  Retired teachers presently average $24,000 a year, and as of January 2018, in-network fees will increase 130% and the out-of-network will increase by 361%.  With these rising costs, the average retired teacher will have the bulk of his/her pension sucked away by heightened insurance premiums.  Retired teacher deductibles will also increase to $3,000 which is TEN times what it is now.  As it stands for current educators, in the upcoming 2017-2018 school year, ActiveCare 2 will increase to $2,004 for employees and their families.  Couple that with dental and vision insurance, and it totals a whopping $2,201.46.  Each district tries to help by contributing around $300; however, that still ends up being $1,816 a month for health, vision, and dental insurance.  On average, a teacher who has taught for 10 years makes about $50,000 a year ($4,166 a month).  Deduct withholding tax and medicare tax ($408), deduct TRS contribution ($329), deduct ins ($1,816), and the amount to be lived off of is $1,613 a month if they choose ActiveCare 2.  Let me put this into perspective for you...TRS insurance will cost MORE than what you are left with.  Even if deciding to go with another plan, the premiums and/or deductibles are still high.  There is no other profession in Texas that employs more than that of public education, yet we are not taken care of by the state of Texas.  Currently 700,000 active public educators and 270,000 retired teachers are looking to our elected officials to make moral and ethical decisions on the welfare of educators.    Why more teachers don't protest:  Teachers are some of the most loyal employees you will ever find.  For many, professional development is back in full force beginning next week.  Their loyalty to their district and students supersede that of fixing their own dire situation, hence how they managed to stay quiet this long.  Educators care for others and put themselves on the back burner.  Last year alone, Texas teachers spent around $200,000,000 of their OWN money to put back into their classrooms.  I have never seen any other profession give of themselves as teachers do.  It is time that the state of Texas bands together with and for them to show your support.   In signing this petition, you are pleading to Governor Greg Abbott and our elected officials to revisit the TRS healthcare for retired and current educators and make it affordable in comparison to average monthly incomes and cost of living in Texas.  This is not the responsibility of the school districts.  It is the duty of the state to manage teachers' healthcare premiums and deductibles, and as it stands, Governor Abbott, our senators, and our representatives have failed in doing so.   School Administrators, teachers, and other school employees, please copy and paste the link and send this out to your campuses/districts!!  We MUST finally come together and be heard!! #dontmesswithtexasteachers #changetrs  

Stephanie Quinn
183,567 supporters
Victory
Petitioning Cigna, Texas State House

Cigna: Finnley needs HELP! Please cover his speech therapy

My son Finnley Sharp excelled in all his fine motor skills and milestones. He is super smart and active! Said several words and would blab up a storm. I noticed in January of 2018 when Finnley was 18 months old that his verbal communication had completely stopped. He was getting sick a lot and always tugging at his ears. I took him to see his pediatrician in Texas and sure enough the ear infections started. By May 2018 he had 6 ear infections. We found out he was allergic to Penicillin and Cefdinir. PCN actually made his muscles inflame and he could not walk or move for a week. It was extremely scary. Unfortunately his physician did not refer him to see a pediatric ENT and I grew frustrated and pulled him out of Daycare and left TX back to TN to his see his physician. She was very concerned with his speech delay and mile stones all being delayed when they were not prior. She referred him for TEIS (TN Early Intervention Systems) and a ENT I took him to the ENT. Audiologist did his hearing test and said that he could not hear that well and at certain points did not respond at all. Also did a test and he had fluid in his middle ear with no infection at the moment. Within a few weeks Finnley got tubes in his ears and one of his first words again was GEKKO from PJ Mask, I love you (more like I uh u), DADA, MAMA and PAPA. I cried with joy the first time I heard my sons voice again. Finnley was seen by the Early Intervention team in TN and was diagnosed with a delay of 40% with Speech and Communication also 25% delay in Cognitive and Social. He was approved and ready to start. Unfortunately I could not do this all on my own. I was in TN alone. We had no one for support or help. I had to return to TX. I needed, we needed the support of my husband. I started all over again here. Cigna says they approve 60 visits in a physical year. The company Riverkids that my son has been seen by was approved (payable) for 3 visits and denied for any further therapy. They said my son is not eligible because it is not RESTORATIVE. The benefits now want to exclude Speech Therapy for our 27 Month old son when he has been seen and covered for 3 visits and was 100% covered in TN. My son acts out and has a very short attention span. We really need the Speech Pathologist with Riverkids to see our son at his daycare to help him speak and communicate. He is frustrated and does not seem to understand. He has only picked up 3 more words (more like sounds). Examples: "Mo ease" for More Please. "Ah du" for All Done. "Wad dat" for what's that? His delay is now a full year behind. I'm the voice for our son, Finnley. He deserves the chance to be at his full potential. I'm asking you to please sign this petition to help MY SON! Thank you, Amanda Soliday-Sharp(A concerned mother)

Amanda Soliday- Sharp
40,122 supporters
Petitioning Donald Trump, U.S. Senate, U.S. House of Representatives, Department of Veterans Affairs, Alabama State Senate, Alabama State House, Alabama Governor, Florida State Senate, Florida State House, Flo...

Congress: Let all children of U.S. military service members unite with their families!

I’m Jenifer Bass, a U.S. Navy veteran, who served for 10 years, one-third in the Asia-Pacific region. It was due to my travel between ports in countries like Japan and Thailand that I first encountered amerasian children, and descendants, of U.S. service members and civilian contractors previously stationed overseas. Filipino Amerasians are abandoned and neglected biracial children of Filipino mothers and American fathers (mostly members of the US armed forces). In the Philippines alone, more than 52,000-plus children were born and left behind after the U.S. Navy withdrew the last of its military personnel in 1992. Right now, the U.S. government won’t legally recognize them as U.S. citizens, despite having been born to an American parent. The Philippine Embassy won't help them either. As a former US colony between 1898 and 1946, the Philippines was home to millions of US soldiers and their dependents, even after its independence. Until 1992, the country hosted two of the largest US military facilities outside the US – Clark Air Base and Subic Naval Base, which played major roles during the Vietnam and first Gulf wars. In 1982 US Public Law 97-359, or the Amerasian Act of 1982, allowed children from Korea, Vietnam, Laos, Kampuchea, or Thailand to move to the US and eventually become American citizens, but those who were from the Philippines were excluded from the law, an exclusion which was upheld by the US Senate on the basis that many Filipino Amerasians were “conceived from illicit affairs and prostitution”, and were born during peacetime. Today, there are estimated to be more than 250,000-plus children. Many amerasians are caught in a no-man’s land of discrimination and poverty -- most left behind by U.S. service members who are unaware that they’ve fathered children overseas. My friend John Haines is one of these sailors. In 2011, John discovered he was the father of a half-Filipino daughter, Jannette. He attempted to unite with her through the American Homecoming Act -- but was frustrated to learn that the Act did not apply to Filipino children of U.S. service members. Today, all John wants is to be united with his daughter and grandchildren. He, like so many other veterans are living with a “hole in their hearts” as they search for ways to unite with their children. There is hope. The Uniting Families Act of 2018, HR 1520, creates a specialized visa allowing military veterans and eligible civilian contractors to sponsor their children and grandchildren for U.S. citizenship. Currently, blood relationship must be proven by DNA test and the total number of visas granted will be capped at 5,000 each year. The issue takes on more urgency as so many of our veterans from our wars in Southeast Asia are getting older and dying each day -- without the chance to connect, or in some cases, reconnect with their own children. John’s daughter Jannette has already undertaken the DNA testing process, conclusively proving her relationship to her American father. All she’s waiting for is the opportunity to permanently unite with her father. There is a PBS documentary, "Left by the Ship" (2010), documenting a day in the life and the personal struggles as a Filipino amerasian on the never ending search for identity and their struggles to connect to their American military families. Please sign this petition to tell Congress that these families cannot wait another day. Pass the Uniting Families Act of 2017, HR 1520, now!

Jenifer Bass
33,523 supporters
Petitioning Texas State House

Make Dr Pepper the Official Soft Drink of Texas

Once A Texan, Always A Texan Created in Waco, TX in 1885, Dr Pepper is the oldest major soft drink in the United States, and while the brand has grown exponentially since its early years, it has never forgotten where it started.  Like any Texan, Dr Pepper has only the deepest pride and appreciation for its home state.  Now Dr Pepper is calling on its passionate fans to support its quest to become the first Official Soft Drink of the Lone Star State.  Dr Pepper has a rich, storied history in the great state of Texas and being named its official soft drink would mark a new milestone for the beloved brand to celebrate for generations to come. Texas Celebrates its Heartland To celebrate its mission to become the Official Soft Drink of Texas, Dr Pepper will debut a collection of special edition bottle labels inspired by the brand’s heritage, available only in-state for a limited time.  The Dr Pepper Texas-inspired bottle collection includes 15 unique labels with artwork depicting some of the state’s most iconic landmarks and landscapes. The 20 oz bottles are available for purchase in Dallas, Fort Worth, Houston, and Waco, and fans are encouraged to collect them all in honor of the great state of Texas and its beloved beverage brand. Please sign this petition and help make Dr Pepper the Official Soft Drink of Texas.  No monetary contributions necessary! You can also spread the word - and the love - on social media using #DrPepperLovesTX.  Thanks y’all!

Dr Pepper
30,583 supporters
Petitioning Texas State House, Texas State Senate

Sales Tax on 501c3 Organization's Adoption Fees

It was brought to our attention this week that 501c3 tax exempt organizations are required by the letter of the law in Texas to collect sales tax on adoption fees/donations.  Not only does this need to start being done immediately, but 7 years of back taxes and penalties are also required to be paid.  While this is the letter of the law, it does not appear that this is the way the law was intended nor the way the law has been interpreted by rescues, CPA's, or the comptroller office itself until this week.   This change and the back taxes and penalties will cause many rescues in the state to close their doors.  This puts the animal population at higher risk and will cost the state more in housing, caring for, and euthanizing animals that would have been helped by rescues. We need the law to be rewritten to make 501c3 rescue organizations exempt as shelter's are in the state of Texas. Our Congress men and women need to amend the Texas Tax Code Sec. 151.343 and the Texas Administrative Code Title 34 Part 1 Chapter 3 Subchapter O Rule 3.316 to read:  (m) Sales by nonprofit animal shelters and rescues. The sale, including the acceptance of a fee for adoption, of an animal by a nonprofit animal shelter or 501(c)(3) rescue is exempt from sales and use taxes. The term "animal shelter" is defined in Health and Safety Code, §823.001, as a facility that keeps or legally impounds stray, homeless, abandoned, or unwanted animals.  The term "501(c)(3) animal rescue is one that is recognized by the Internal Revenue Service as one operating for the purpose of saving homeless, abandoned or unwanted animals and is in good standing with the IRS. 

Laura Everitt
28,787 supporters