How To Petition: The Unexpected Activist

by Mary Haight on October 10, 2011

Finding out how to petition was the last thing on my mind. I’m a bit of a cynic, so all of what follows still surprises me. I share my story in case passion slaps you awake one day too!

Petland Canada with 50 stores had announced they would stop selling pets. Anti-selling pets legislation and protests found Petland Canada wanting to get in front of the trend. I searched the news here for a possible  statement from Petland USA – nothing. You can get the whole story at the link, but to skip to the end of the beginning, the catalyst for my foray into petition activism was Petland USA’s response to my call for a comment.

I was familiar with as the site for the motherlode of petitions, and I also write for BTC4Animals. I went to Facebook to ask Kim Clune, founder of BTC4Animals, and Stephanie Feldstein, writer and Director of Organizing at, two things:

  1. If my petition sounded like a good idea, and
  2. Could I submit a petition to BTC4Animals asking Petland USA to stop selling pets and fire puppy mills.

I got an enthusiastic “yes”.  Then I had to figure out what to do next.

How To Petition

I went to and immediately saw “Start a Petition” at the top and bottom of the page. That was easy;) Then I was faced with three questions:

  1. Who do you want to petition
  2. What do you want them to do
  3. Why does it matter.

I thought – what, that’s it?  Was starting a petition really that simple?  Well, yes and no.

Crafting an effective message takes attention to detail. Many of us are not as good as we think on that score. It’s a good idea to enlist friends or social media acquaintances who have written and marketed a petition to help you and to use as a sounding board. I did, and my petition was much better for it! Double check all your facts and links.  I started a petition and ended up using it as practice. My problem was I did not use the handy and very helpful guide on to garner the fine points of how to petition. I blame the counter-conditioning of the computer age and its technical manuals for my reticence. Foolish on my part, as it turned out, the guide is easy to read!

The guide on how to petition is comprehensive.  It is well-written and edited, and has all you ever need to know about how to petition – not just write a petition, but market it – divided into easily digestible sections, like how a petition works online, how to start a petition, how to set a goal, who to target, how to write a petition letter, how to promote – thorough, and a quick read.

If I had read the guide first, then wrote the petition, I would not have made the rooky mistake with the title of the first petition. Whatever you do, once you craft an effective title, hit the “custom title” button. Otherwise the program will take titles of your target as the first words in the title of the petition. That won’t work very well! My “practice” petition came out with the title “Founder & Chairman, Stop Selling Pets…”  Yikes!

Before you hit that publish button, double check your petition letter – make sure all changes made have been incorporated. When you’re finished, you can get a widget for your site like the one I have below! [By the way, please sign before you go? Thank you!]

Learning how to petition was an easy process that leads to a focused, easily understood petition campaign. It made me feel like I got off the sidelines and took action! Anyone, anywhere can learn how to petition. is your resource and guide to online petition success. So the next time something gets you excited or inspired enough to want to make change happen, go to and be heard! You might even submit your animal-centric petition for approval as a cause to BTC4Animals…the more eyes on your petition, the better!

Stephanie Feldstein of will be interviewed at BTC4Animals October 31– don’t miss it!  Blog the Change Speak out against Petland and puppy mills October 15th! Send your link in the comments if you do!


  1. […] But, despite being a busy woman with many other responsibilities, she has done a wonderful job learning how to petition and getting this entire drive organized. She is joined by Be the Change for Animals in her […]

  2. […] Mary Haight, a self proclaimed unexpected activist,  created a petition and publicized it with the help of Be the Change for Animals and Her cause is backed by a lot of community support too (see the link list below). […]

  3. […] Mary Haight of Dancing Dog Blog came up with the idea of partnering with to petition U.S. stores to emulate the Canadian Petlands’ no-animal-sale policy. She wrote about it here. […]

Previous post:

Next post: