Mobile, Ala. – This week, the University of South Alabama (USA) student organization Animal Rights Alliance received guest speaker and Mobile native Marty Irby at a special event, where Irby spoke about animal protection issues and lobbying for animals in our nation’s capital.
Irby is the executive director at Animal Wellness Action and a senior vice president at the Center for a Humane Economy. The animal-advocacy groups are based in Washington, D.C.
Irby is a graduate of both UMS-Wright Preparatory School and USA. At the university, he was a member of Eta Epsilon chapter of the Sigma Chi Fraternity. He was named one of The Hill’s Top Lobbyists for 2019, 2020, and 2021 and was honored in 2020 by Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II for his work to protect horses. He is an elected board member and secretary of the Organization for Competitive Markets and serves on the campaign steering committees for U.S. Reps. Nancy Mace, R-S.C., and Buddy Carter, R-Ga. Irby is a former elected member of the Mobile Country Republican Executive Committee that represented Semmes and former chairman of the Mobile County Young Republicans as well as served as communications director and policy advisor for Rep. Ed Whitfield, R-Ky., before Whitfield retired from Congress.
At the USA event, Irby covered the issues of horse slaughter, horse soring, doping in American horse racing, and the plight of our iconic American wild equines residing on public federal lands, as well as the FDA Modernization Act led by Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., that passed the U.S. Senate in September with the support and cosponsorship of U.S. Senator Tommy Tuberville, R-Auburn. The FDA Modernization Act also is backed by U.S. Rep. Barry Moore, R-Dothan, as well as 107 additional House cosponsors, and would repeal a 1938 mandate requiring animal testing for any drug approved by the FDA. The Depression-era regulation increases costs and time-to-market for new pharmaceuticals while sacrificing millions of animals on tests that are far less accurately predictive than modern alternatives, such as organs-on-chips.
Irby also dug into his work on the Big Cat Public Safety Act with Tiger King star Carole Baskin. That legislation passed the U.S. House in July and is expected to clear the Senate and head to the President’s desk to be signed into law in the coming weeks.
In addition, the event was luckily timed and coincided with the passage of animal protection Irby has long-championed – the Prevent All Soring Tactics (PAST) Act to end horse abuse – on the U.S. House floor that very night. Students at USA were able to watch the vote live following Irby’s presentation.
“We were honored to host Marty, who gave an engaging presentation,” said Heather Dail, an English Instructor at USA who serves as Faculty Advisor for the student organization Animal Rights Alliance. “Animal rights in politics is a unique intersection of disciplines, so hearing Marty speak on this as well as seeing the U.S. House vote on one of the bills he championed was fascinating for students to witness live.”
“It was truly a great honor for me to speak to the students at South about animal protection issues and the politics of Washington, D.C.,” said Marty Irby. “I hope each attendee will take something I shared and apply it in daily practice to help animals and utilize their own voice with elected officials. Mobile will always be home to me and where my heart is, and I am grateful to President Jo Bonner, Heather Dail, and the entire USA team for the wonderful hospitality they welcomed me with.”
Upon graduation from USA in 2003, Irby left Mobile to move to Tennessee where he won eight world championships and later served as the president of the Tennessee Walking Horse Breeders’ & Exhibitors’ Association, the breed registry established in 1935. He subsequently moved to Washington, D.C., after testifying at a Congressional hearing about horse abuse in 2013 and has since testified before the U.S. House of Representatives on numerous occasions, most recently in 2020 in support of the Horseracing Integrity and Safety Act that was signed into law by President Donald J. Trump that same year. Trump previously recognized Irby at the signing of the Preventing Animal Cruelty and Torture (PACT) Act in the Oval Office in 2019, and in total, signed six animal protection bills into law during his presidency that Irby lobbied for.