Stefan Tijerina was surprised when he answered the door to a CBS news film crew. But he made the most of the media attention in order to advance his cause: preventing animals from dying in cars parked in the hot Texas sun.
Stefan was tired of seeing dogs left in vehicles in parking lots. “I have three rescue dogs myself,” said Stefan. “It’s frustrating seeing other people not taking responsibility for their dogs. In Texas, if I break someone’s window, I will go to jail. Right now my hands are tied.”
So Stefan started a petition to the Texas government to make it legal to break into a car to rescue an animal in need. A huge number of Change.org users agreed with Stefan and his petition was quickly signed by more than 120,000 people. The explosive support for Stefan’s petition brought the media to his door.
“I had no idea they were coming,” said Stefan. “They just turned up.”
Despite his surprise, Stefan gave an excellent interview and got a long and favorable story on local news. Reporters even showed the petition on screen, helping viewers to sign and support it. Media interest snowballed, with Stefan doing follow up interviews on radio.
The media attention grabbed the attention of Stefan’s elected representatives. “I contacted my house representative and he’s said he’s doing legal research into what would need to be done to pass this law,” said Stefan. “I’ve been called and emailed by staffers from their office with follow up questions.”
The legislative process can be slow, but that type of genuine and continued engagement from legislators is a very good sign.
Stefan is considering what to do next with his petition to get action from his legislators. There are lots of opportunities to use big online support to get more press and put more pressure on the people making a decision about a petition. For example, inviting signers to a delivery in the capital – with their dogs – could spur a second round of media attention.
With the support of so many signers, and good media coverage for his petition, Stefan is in a great position to win.
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