Sunday, October 22, 2006

Eyes on the prize Why the "dog vote" matters to Joe Trippi. And Bill Richardson, and Ed Rendell, and Antonio Villaraigosa, and so many other high profile Democrats. More importantly: why, in their pursuit of that glittering prize, progressive Dems are screwing themselves over. But first, let's do the numbers Based on industry figures, close to 45% of the electorate owns a dog. In many rural and semi-suburban areas, the percentage goes to. . . what? 80%? 90%? The pet industry in the US is on target to hit $38.4 billion in sales this year. Billion. An informal poll conducted by My Dog Votes shows that the overwhelming majority of dog owners are ready to switch political parties in local and state elections in order to safeguard their pets. Compared to concerns about their ability to own a dog, taxes and the war in Iraq become background chatter. That's some swing vote. Anyone still think Joe Trippi's got a screw loose? All politics are local Typical pet owners care deeply about their animals. Things get ugly, though, as the animal rights movement increasingly intrudes on civil rights and liberties, including pet ownership. When the law reaches out and threatens what--for many people--is a member of the family, its a crisis. Its up front and its personal. High profile Democrats are in it up to their eyeballs. Trending away from property rights and civil rights in New Mexico Take New Mexico Governor and Democratic Party presidential hopeful Bill Richardson. Cheered on by New Mexico's animal rights lobby, Governor Richardson signed a bill that makes dogs that chase cats "potentially dangerous" in New Mexico. Note that most dogs instinctively chase small animals like cats if they are not trained or restrained by their owners. Prey drive is normal dog behavior. In New Mexico's new and sweeping description of "potentially dangerous" the dogs don't have to actually catch a cat--they just have to chase one. Once. Dogs that bark "aggressively" and look like they can jump the fence may be defined as "potentially dangerous", too. The dogs don't have to actually go over the fence--just look like they could. Under the law that Bill Richardson signed, potentially dangerous dogs can be seized by the authorities. In other words, they can take your dog out of your backyard if the dog barks and looks like it can jump the fence. The dog doesn't have to do anything else--just bark and carry on from behind a fence while on its owner's property. Its kind of like The Minority Report -- that sci fi thriller about profiling, arresting and ultimately imprisoning people who are "precriminal". Except its not science fiction. Its a reality for dog owners in New Mexico. Kind of turns the "presumption of innocence" concept on its head, doesn't it? Jeopardizing the reasonable expectation of privacy By the way, Albuquerque Democratic Mayor Martin Chavez says he'll be lobbying to make that city's new law forcing law-abiding dog owners to castrate their dogs and have them implanted with an RFID microchip a mandate for the entire state of New Mexico in 2007. Sound reasonable? Or does it sound like an intrusion on your right to privacy? Who's holding all that data on law-abiding dog owners, anyway? Who has access to it? What protections exist to protect the details collected on the households of those millions of law-abiding citizens? Lots of questions, and not many answers. Its clear that Bill Richardson thinks he's presidential material. I have my doubts. Forced sterilizations and mandatory microchipping in La-la land Bad enough that one of the Democratic Party's brightest stars, City of Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa, got his finger caught in the animal rights wringer when he made campaign promises to extremists. Threats of violence, protests at the homes of animal shelter workers and acts of vandalism on the part of animal rights activists marked discussions between the mayor and the community on personnel changes and a revision to animal control ordinances. Furthermore, Los Angeles County now has a brand new law, which--like Albuquerque's--forces law-abiding Los Angeles dog owners to have their dogs' reproductive parts surgically removed. The dogs also must be implanted with an RFID microchip. If you live in Los Angeles County, you will lose a chunk of your dog forever under the new ordinance, and then you'll be required to donate your private information to a database. Yeee-ouch. Access to the database remains an open question, but penalties for non-compliance are clear: $250 for the first offense. Second time around is a misdemeanor, punishable by up to six months in jail, or a $1000 fine. Or both. Trippi's Best Friends adventure Joe Trippi already got shellacked on his own blog for his support of Best Friends Animal Sanctuary and their scheme to wiggle around the most basic of due process rights by allowing private citizens to unlawfully remove dogs from their owner's property, which is also known as "theft". Was Joe surprised to learn that so many people aren't okay with dog-napping? Were concerns about denying dog owners their due process rights not anticipated by one of the Democratic Party's most visible strategic planners? Stakes are high Errors like these could make many a solid, civil rights-minded Democrat vote the Republican ticket. Dems need to remember their roots--and their constituency--when civil liberties are on the chopping block. Wake up and smell the dog! Increasingly, law-abiding dog and pet owners are feeling the pinch of unreasonable legislation which tramples clearly established civil rights. When will progressive Democrats realize how big a piece of the electorate they stand to lose if this continues?

3 comments:

Anonymous said...

I don't want to rain on your parade -- but you are mixing up Los Angeles County -- which just passed the law mandating MSN -- and Los Angeles City -- which, as far as I know, has not. We really need for you to get your facts straight, if you are to do any good here!

shariuno said...

Thanks for that. It's enough to make a lifelong liberal Dem such as myself go to extremes and vote ... whichever way protects our civil rights.

BlueDogState said...

Regarding City of Los Angeles vs Los Angeles County: the link provided for info on the MSN points to the county, but thanks for pointing out a possible source of confusion. I've added a few words to avoid it for future readers.