The “Easy advocacy how-to” sections are:
• How to keep track of issues
• Getting in touch with your elected representatives
• What to do when an advocacy issue comes up
Check out whichever parts of whichever section you want. Look around in all three sections to “level-up” toward the best advocate version of yourself—in line with your unique interests and abilities.
Of course you can check PSDP’s Advocacy page and follow us on Facebook or Twitter to see what we’ve found to focus on. But there are so many more opportunities to impact the world that we can’t cover or don’t hear about without your help!
Here are ways for you to claim the power you have to make the world better for yourself and our community.
Click to expand the text below on the page.Google Alerts: sit back and let the internet do the work for you!
This is a slow, handholding walkthrough for newbies, but you’re welcome to skip along faster on your own if you’re a techie.
A “Google Alert” is how you make Google’s search engine send you an email whenever something new pops up online, under whatever description you want. It’s a really handy way to keep track of things without having to spend all your time scouring the internet!
You don’t even need a Google account for this. You just need to head over to Google Alerts (but keep this guide open):
We’ll give you the instructions for setting up a Google Alert (as of late 2018), then we’ll tell you the cool alerts you can set up if you’re looking to be a service dog advocate. In case you need more help, Google’s basic info on alerts is linked here, but the simple instructions from that page are just below the link:
Create an alert
1. Go to Google Alerts.
2. In the box at the top, enter a topic you want to follow.
3. To change your settings, click Show options. You can change:
How often you get notifications
The types of sites you’ll see
The part of the world you want info from
How many results you want to see
What accounts get the alert
4. Click Create Alert. You’ll get emails whenever we find matching search results.
That may look like a lot of info at first, but if you look you’ll see each little step is easy and makes sense.
Okay, now that you know how to make an alert, you’ll want to know what alert(s) to make. That’s the “topic you want to follow” in the alert. Skip down lower to the numbered examples if you want to cut to a simple copy and paste part…
Here’s the topic you’d use if you wanted all the news every day on service dogs: “service dog”. Simple!
However, people use different terms to talk about service dogs. So if you really want all the news, every single day about service dogs by whatever name, you can use the four most common terms people use when they mean to be talking about service dogs:
The quotation marks say you want alerts for “service dog”, for example, not everything that has either “service” or “dog” in it. Now you could set up four different Google Alerts, or you could just use a tiny bit of computery language to throw them all into one alert that does the same thing:
“service dog” OR “service animal” OR “assistance dog” OR “assistance animal”
The all-caps “OR” between the quoted phrases tells Google you want to know when something new is posted with any one of those terms.
Note: Google updates the way their search works, which means that it’s a lot harder than it used to be to get precise results. Just remember you can skim and skip extra results!
Even getting all the results for “service dog” every day can be pretty overwhelming, so we don’t really recommend that for most folks. Instead, we encourage you to be a “micro-advocate”!
As a micro-advocate, you can help us by staying on top of service dog advocacy issues where you live, and staying in touch with us about them. Here’s a useful way to include where you live in the alert, such as Michigan or Puerto Rico.
If you were to use the plus sign, “+”, with a search term immediately after it, that tells Google you need to include that search term in any results. So your alert could be for something like these two examples:
“service dog” OR “service animal” OR “assistance dog” OR “assistance animal” +Michigan
“service dog” OR “service animal” OR “assistance dog” OR “assistance animal” +Puerto Rico
Tip for better results: To get results from a certain location, rather than results that name that location, use “loc:” immediately followed by the location name with no quotation marks. Examples: loc:California loc:North Dakota
If you want to focus on lawmaking in your state, or even just get updates on a particular site, there’s an easy way to set that up in an alert. When you include “site:” in an alert, then immediately follow it with the site’s domain, you restrict the alert to that site. So if you’re interested in news on any service dog bills that come up in the California legislature, you could set an alert for:
“service dog” OR “service animal” OR “assistance dog” OR “assistance animal” site:leginfo.legislature.ca.gov
Note that you leave out the “http://” for the site’s domain. If you want to find the site for the law-making people where you live, search for your state’s official legislature or congress site. Some of these sites actually have their own keyword tracking feature—California’s does—and this could be even more reliable than a Google Alert.
We don’t focus on all the terms you might want to follow above, but you may also want to throw extra search terms into the mix. Here’s what a general alert for your service dog advocacy might look like (it may look big, but it’s easy to copy, paste, and switch out “South Carolina” for your location!):
“service dog” OR “service animal” OR “assistance dog” OR “assistance animal” OR “emotional support animal” OR “ESA” OR “emotional support dog” OR “therapy dog” OR “therapy animal” OR “PTSD dog” OR “diabetes dog” OR “seizure dog” OR “guide dog” OR “hearing dog” OR “facility dog” OR “comfort animal” OR “comfort dog” loc:South Carolina
Fair warning: If you don’t restrict this alert to a location using “loc:”, you might be getting a bit more news than you’d like…
More tips and tricks for Google searches/alerts are linked here and elsewhere, in case you’re interested. They’re pretty nifty, but Google will change how things work from time to time!
Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Reddit, YouTube, Snapchat, LinkedIn, Pinterest, Tumblr, blogging sites, Periscope, and more!
Find and follow others who post about issues that interest you. Do this by searching for terms/hashtags (what is a hashtag?), seeing who posts related news, checking out their feed, checking in with their posts through your feed once you follow them (you don’t have to read everything by everyone!), you can check out their followers for more, and in addition to learning yourself, share/retweet so you can spread the word.
official actions in Congress
The info here will help you figure out what your representatives are doing. See the “Getting in touch with your elected representatives” section for detailed info on initially figuring out who your representatives are—and then contacting your representatives after you know what’s going on!
Congress.gov is a searchable site with contact details for both U.S. Representatives of Congress and the U.S. Senate, lists of committee members, and legislation.
This is not the best site to find who your representatives are. You can quickly find your representatives on usa.gov/elected-officials. Our how-to’s section on getting in touch with your elected representatives gives a more detailed walkthrough on this.
On congress.gov, you can track lots of activities, depending on what interests you. Set up notifications when a new issue of the Congressional Record is available (detailing Senate and House proceedings), or when there’s action on a topic, bill, or person that you want to follow. You have to register an account to track using congress.gov, but it’s easy.
Below, we break down how to set up an alert for a person or an alert for a bill.
• To register an account, click Sign In on far right of the screen. This gives you the option to register and create an account. A confirmation email will be sent to you. Follow the instructions.
• Sign in to congress.gov
• (For an example search and setting an alert:) Go to “Current Members.” There are two dropdowns.
• Select the one directly below: “Find a Representative.”
• The list will be in alphabetical order. Scroll through until you find the name of your U.S. Representative, then click on their name.
• The profile for the U.S. Representative will be listed. Under the U.S. Representative’s name, click a small link named “Get alerts.” A pop-up window will appear that states:
Get email alerts for this Member?
You will receive an alert whenever this Member sponsors or cosponsors legislation
• Click “Confirm.” You will receive another pop-up that confirms your alert has been set.
To cancel your alert, perform the same process from the point of signing into congress.gov and selecting “Cancel alert” under the U.S. Representative’s name. Here’s how to get alerts for action on a bill:
• To register an account, click “Sign In” on far right of the screen. This gives you the option to register and create an account. A confirmation email will be sent to you. Follow the instructions.
• Sign in to congress.gov
• (For an example search and setting an alert:) There are two search boxes, the first is a dropdown. In the dropdown, select: All Legislation. In the second box, type: H.R. 620
• Click the highlighted Bill H.R. 620.
• In the new page, below the title of Bill H.R. 620, a link for “Get Alerts” appears. Click it.
• You will receive alerts whenever there are any changes involving Bill H.R. 620.
For Two Minute Tip videos (visual only, no sound) to help you with your searching and creating alerts, go to:
GovTrack: This independent site has a ton of great info about legislation and representatives. In addition to letting you know the likelihood of a bill passing, they make it easy to get alerts on bills and even subject areas.
Any suggestions to improve this how-to? Please contact us.