Monday, October 30, 2006

Testicle Wars:
the Battle for Control of Your Dog's Balls

Plenty of dog owners are oblivious to the whole thing. Others, (ahem) particularly the gentlemen, prefer to squeeze their eyes shut and hope it will all go away. But skirmish lines formed long ago and it looks like the City of Tacoma, Washington, may be the next battlefield in the Testicle Wars.

I'm talking about the battle for control of your dog's balls. The move to force law-abiding dog owners with well-managed pets and workmates to surgically sterilize them.

The concept that the government can invade your home and decide which, if any, of your dogs get to keep their gonads, and which ones don't.

Can a bunch of strangers sitting on your city council determine that your blameless dog must undergo an invasive veterinary procedure which sends a part of your personal property to the garbage can?

Could this be just a minor snip-snip for ol' Rover? (And by the way, before you sign on to that particular theory, know that despite the bedtime story that mandatory spay-neuter advocates spin, the longterm effects of gonadectomies on dogs are not necessarily beneficial. Not by a long shot.)

Or is this an assault on the constitutionally guaranteed property rights of an estimated 45% of the U. S. electorate?

We the People

Turns out that the U. S. Constitution is gonzo about protecting property rights. The Fifth Amendment (which would be part of the Bill of Rights, guys) reads, in part:
No person shall be . . .deprived of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor shall private property be taken for public use, without just compensation.

Then there's the 14th Amendment, which reads, in part: No State shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States; nor shall any State deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law. . .

Like I said, completely gonzo when it comes to property. Talk about a core value. Right?

Ditching our constitutional rights

Meet Democratic Tacoma City Councilmember Julie Anderson.

She's the sponsor of the proposal to require all dogs (and cats) in Tacoma to be sterilized.

How did Julie use her recent media event opportunity? She tossed out a civil liberty, based on the U. S. Bill of Rights, like a used piece of Kleenex.

 [My proposal] basically states that having an unaltered animal is no longer a right or something you can just do.

That was her quote.

Blink. Owning a dog, without submitting it to surgical sterilization, is something I "just can't do" any more? Its "no longer a right"?

Hell you say.

Indicating that she's "sensitive to the property rights issues", Councilwoman Anderson nevertheless came down squarely on the side of PeTA and the Humane Society of the United States. Both are animal rights organizations that want to end domestic animal ownership. Wayne Pacelle, currently the CEO of the Humane Society of the United States, phrased it:

"One generation and out. We have no problems with the extinction of domestic animals. They are creations of human selective breeding."

 There's something about Julie

Here's Julie's pedigree, lifted from the City of Tacoma website:
Political Strategist for Planned Parenthood Votes! Washington
Executive Director of the YWCA of Pierce County
District Manager for the Dome District Neighborhood Business
District Executive Director of Faith Homes
Campaign Manager for Tacoma United For Fairness
Board of Directors of City Club Tacoma
PTA Board
American Leadership Forum fellow

  Tacoma United for Fairness? Do those fine people know how gung-ho Julie is about sending civil liberties to the trash heap and mandating $300 or so's worth of surgery for everyone's dog?

Who's going to pay for all of that surgery, anyway? What's the plan, Julie?

How are retirees and people with a limited income supposed to come up with the do-re-mi? Will cash-strapped dog owners, fearful of being caught with unauthorized testicles on the premises, try a "do-it-yourself" solution?

Its been known to happen, Julie.

And what if the surgery has an, uh, unhappy outcome? Assuming that ol' Rover even survives the anesthesia, will the City of Tacoma bear the expenses?

Oh, and during your networking sessions with the other fellows of the American Leadership Forum, did you let slip that many studies indicate that mandatory spay-neuter doesn't achieve the stated goal of reducing shelter populations? No?

Julie Anderson is up for re-election in 2007. She can be reached at and I, for one, will be writing to point out the error of her ways.

Love me, love me, love me. . .I'm a liberal

What is so freaking Democratic, liberal and progressive about kissing off our civil rights? I am just not getting this. I don't think Phil Ochs would have, either.

Joe Trippi, one of the Democratic Party's most visible strategic planners, benchmarked the progressive sell out of dog owners and alignment with the animal rights movement when he became Best Friends Animal Sanctuary's hired gun. So much for scruples, huh?

Coming soon to a municipality near you

Previous columns covered mandatory spay-neuter requirements in Albuquerque, New Mexico (with Democratic Mayor Chavez announcing his intention to promote the requirement statewide) and Los Angeles County, California.

The Golden State is a particularly tough place for dogs that retain all the parts they were born with--prime animal rights extremist organization PeTA lists quite a few California locations, including Belmont, Clearlake and San Mateo. Berkeley, Sacramento and Riverside County had mandatory sterilization proposals on the table this year. San Francisco--that beautiful city by the bay and bastion of liberal thinking--links mandatory sterilization with negative profiling for some miserable dogs and dog owners.

Yup. There are plenty of places in the Golden State where the presence of doggy gonads is going to cause major problems. But don't rest easy because you don't live in California.

Here's a little sampling of the shape of things to come across the country: Bloomington, and Fort Wayne, Indiana, and Buncombe County, North Carolina, have forced sterilization requirements. Austin, and San Antonio, Texas recently saw a mandatory spay-neuter proposal. Indianapolis, Indiana, too. So did the entire State of Virginia.

In New York City dogs that wind up at city shelters must be sterilized before they are returned to their owners. No matter how or why they got there.

Aurora and Denver, Colorado are so-called "no birth" cities.

The above is NOT a complete list of places that will try to force you to neuter your dog. There are more. You can run, but you can't hide. The Testicle Wars are coming to you, wherever you live.

Which side are you on, boys, which side are you on?

Which side are you on? A recent survey from My Dog Votes indicates that dog owners are more than ready to switch parties in local and state elections in order to save their dogs. Well, count me in! No way will I support a party that will force me to sterilize my dog, or that is willing to toss my property rights into the garbage. No freaking way.

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?

Saturday, October 14, 2006

Chain of fools: "Kindness Revolution" or Animal Rights tool? Best Friends is just another link in the chain Anyone else see the September/October issue of Best Friends magazine? Best Friends says its going on the offensive against "dangerous dogs." And, sure enough, they're going down the same sorry path PeTA and HSUS blazed for them. Despite reassuring statements that "the problem is not an entire breed of dogs", the current Best Friends magazine prominently features a photo of a Rottweiler at the same time BF "acknowledges that there are dangerous breeds". Their position is based on their theory that "aggressive tendencies have now been bred into their genes" (sic). First of all, just what the hell is that supposed to mean? If there are "dangerous" breeds, then Best Friends is saying that the problem is the entire breed. A breed that's dangerous is a problem, isn't it? The Kory Nelsons of the world sure won't have any trouble deciphering that little bit of double-talk. So cut the crap. But the "aggressive tendencies have now been bred into their genes" line sounds so much like. . .California's infamous SB 861. Democratic State Senator Jackie Speier opportunistically teamed up with the Animal Rights lobby to roll back California's prohibition on breed profiling and allow localities to restrict the breeding of certain types and breeds of dog. SB 861 held that irresponsible breeding of animals contributes to the production of defective animals that present a public safety risk. Enactment of the Speier bill promptly led to the forced sterilization of all kinds of "pit bulls" in the Golden State -- and "pit bull" is a pretty flexible term there. It includes purebred Miniature Bull Terriers in some places. Using the provisions of SB 861, San Francisco quickly enacted an ordinance forcing pit bull owners to sterilize their dogs unless they fit a ridiculous set of criteria. It also makes the city's Animal Control department the ultimate authority on which "pit bulls"--if any--may be bred. Again: Animal Control gets to pick which dogs get bred. They don't like you? They don't like your dog? Tough luck. Sounds like they're getting closer and closer to Wayne Pacelle's "one generation and we're out" dream of ending ownership of domestic animals in California, doesn't it? And as for Jackie? Too bad, so sad. Jackie Speier wasn't re-elected. She was just a link in the Animal Rights chain. Following the European model The September/October Best Friends magazine also explains that it should be criminal to breed aggression into the genes of dogs, whatever that means. Best Friends says they want to penalize the breeders of aggressive dogs, rather than the dogs themselves. Such programs have worked well in Europe, they tells us. Oh really? Here's a clue, Best Friends: Europe is a crazy quilt of discriminatory breed specific measures, outright bans on some breeds and severe restrictions making it impossible to breed others, forced microchipping provisions, and useless political finger pointing. Almost every European country bans some other country's dogs. Ireland bans some English dogs. England bans some Japanese dogs. Portugal and Poland ban some German dogs, and Germany and Spain regulate some English dogs. Holland bans some Italian dogs. Just about every country in Europe bans American pit bull terriers. And Italy? Well, Italy considers forty breeds of dog dangerous. Its all politics. It goes on and on, and still "dog attack" stories make headlines in European papers. Sound like a plan? Maybe if you want to end dog ownership it does. What would Aretha say? With its $20,000,000 annual income, Best Friends can buy themselves as many political operatives like Joe Trippi as they need. They can buy themselves access to the Katie Courics and Inside Editions of the world, and stream docudrama-style videos all day every day. Politicians crave a little slice of heaven And politicians know it. In fact, they want a piece of the action. What's warmer and fuzzier than a basket full of puppies, right? What a way to prop up a sagging image! Its gotta be right up there with kissing babies. They're hoping an association with outfits like Best Friends will bring them votes and the money trusting constituents keep shelling out. Too bad they don't bother with the fine print. Best Friends won't admit it, but their 3 point plan actually promotes breed profiling, negative stereotyping, and forced sterilizations. And constituents don't really like that. Just ask Jackie Speier. Best Friends is another link in the Animal Rights chain. Forget the "kind revolution" rhetoric. Forget the slick media blitz. There's nothing kind about the revolution Best Friends has on offer.

Thursday, October 05, 2006

Dems, dawgs and civil rights Part One: Can you say. . .DUE PROCESS ? Markos Moulitsas, essayist, blogger, lawyer, political whiz kid, and liberal/progressive/Democratic Party cheerleader now in residence at dKos said a mouthful recently in an essay published in "Cato Unbound": ". . .[T]here’s a whole swath of Americans who are uncomfortable with Republican/conservative efforts to erode our civil liberties while intruding into our bedrooms and churches. . ." Uncomfortable? Man, you have no idea. But where, oh where, are the Dems? AWOL? Case in point follows below. Its a tangled web, but stick with it--there's a prize (not) at the end of the story just for Dems who believe their party is all about civil rights. Vigilante justice in Freedom, Pennsylvania On September 11, 2006, Tammy Grimes, founder of Dogs Deserve Better unlawfully removed a dog from his owner's Freedom, Pennsylvania backyard. The exact chain of events leading up to her actions are disputed, but, stating that she was concerned about the dog's condition, Ms. Grimes freely admits that she trespassed and removed the dog. She now refuses to return the dog to his owners, to hand the dog over to the authorities, or to allow them access to the dog. Originally charged with theft, receipt of stolen property, criminal trespass and criminal mischief, at arraignment Ms. Grimes was bound over for trial on charges of theft and receipt of stolen property. Now out on bail, newspapers indicate that Ms. Grimes is next due in court on October 27. Its worth noting that the local chief of police and the local humane society director both indicate that no charges against the dog's owners are contemplated. Investigation of the dog's condition, and hence any wrong-doing on the part of the owners, is not possible, since the prime evidence--the dog--has been taken by Ms. Grimes. Throughout it all, Ms. Grimes was afforded her constitutionally guaranteed rights--including the right to due process we all expect from the U. S. judicial system. Best Friends Animal Sanctuary, the "animal welfare organization" with an income of roughly $20 million per year has been one of Tammy Grimes most outspoken, steadfast supporters. The dog owners in our story have not fared anywhere near as well. Essentially, they have been stripped of their property (their dog), without benefit of judicial due process. Presumption of innocence flew out the window. Trial by jury, protection from unreasonable search and seizure--all of these benefits of life in the United States have been denied them. Ms. Grimes made herself the sole arbiter of justice, and punishment. In short, she's a vigilante. Presumably Tammy Grimes will appear in court to answer charges and justice will prevail. So why beat up on Democrats? I have two words for you: Joe Trippi Best Friends Animal Sanctuary, the money and brains (such as they are) behind Tammy Grimes and her Dogs Deserve Better Inc. organization, went fishing for some political expertise at some point. Guess who they landed.

Yup. And its Democratic Party heavy lifter Joe Trippi's role in the Best Friends Kindness Revolution that's got my panties in a knot. There's nothing kind about denying people their civil rights. What's Joe Trippi doing fronting vigilantes? Its nice that Katie Couric takes his calls, but geez, why pull strings for people who have no interest in the rule of law? Not that Joe, or Tammy Grimes for that matter, is particularly knowledgeable about dangerous dogs or animal legislation, but he's is scheduled to share the stage with Tammy at BF's end-October conference.

Picture it: Joe Trippi will be up there thumping the podium along with a woman whose actions are supported by the Animal Liberation Front. The Animal Liberation Front is characterized by the FBI as a domestic terrorism organization. In his day Joe Trippi worked for Howard Dean--managed his presidential campaign--Walter Mondale, and Dick Gephart. Joe is currently associated with the campaigns of several highly placed liberal Democrats. I wonder what they would make of this legislative proposal that Best Friends Animal Law Coalition is floating to back up what Tammy Grimes did in Pennsylvania: "Any person who has a reasonable belief an animal is injured, in pain, sick or otherwise in need of assistance to protect its health or life shall have the authority to enter upon the property of another for the limited purpose of taking the animal to a veterinarian or otherwise providing emergency care to the animal, provided that, reasonable efforts have been made to report the animal’s condition to the local humane officer and the animal’s owner or custodian. A person offering assistance to an animal under this section shall be immune from civil or criminal liability." Say what? Anyone at all can take my dog off my property? I don't know about you guys, but my civil rights, including due process, are precious to me. They were hard fought, and hard won. I want to see a court order before my property is taken away. I have an issue with "any person with a reasonable belief" running off with my dog. And you can bet I want my day in court. Tammy forgot that no matter now ugly the accusation, we are all guaranteed civil rights in this country. Hellloooo? Joe? Progressive-minded Democrats? Is this the crew you really want to hook up with? Because from where I sit, they're about as unDemocratic as you can get. Since when have civil rights been unfashionable with the Democratic Party? Are Dems so very intent on capturing a demographic that they're willing to remain silent on domestic terrorism? Denial of due process? Weakening property rights? Are vigilantes hunky dory with Democrats? I sure hope not. I live in a Blue State, and I was born to vote Democratic. I come from a long line of liberal thinkers. In fact, I'm a freakin' stereotype. But these are NOT my values.

Tuesday, October 03, 2006

Broken promises After Hurricane Katrina devastated much of New Orleans and surrounding Gulf Coast areas last fall, Best Friends Animal Society earned themselves big snaps by stepping in to provide refuge for many homeless animals it left in its wake. With headlines like "Triumph over Tragedy: Best Friends in the Hurricane" Best Friends streamed heart-rending video across the internet. included Best Friends in its "Charity of the Month" announcement in November of 2005. We were all urged to "skip Starbucks and send the money to Best Friends" to help save the Katrina animal refugees. Many wonderful, caring people heard the call and opened both their hearts and their wallets. Dumping Katrina dogs Imagine my surprise at receiving an email recently from Best Friend's Community Programs Coordinator, Randi Bildner. It seems Best Friends, the self-proclaimed "largest animal sanctuary in the United States", raking in more than $18.5 million per year in donations and contributions, needs to get rid of the leftover Katrina dogs. Ms. Bildner writes: Best Friends Animal Society needs help from the best and most reputable Pit Bull rescue groups in the United States. At the moment we are facing the very difficult problem of housing Pit Bulls that we saved during our Hurricane Katrina rescue operations. Over a year after Hurricane Katrina devastated New Orleans and surrounding areas, we are still caring for animals that unfortunately were not reunited with their families and have not found permanent adoptive homes. This situation has forced us to house dogs in facilities that are not in keeping with Best Friends high level of animal care and therefore we are working around the clock to transfer these dogs to more suitable environments." "Facilities not up to standards"? Really? So what was all that money for? And where have those dogs been all this time? When a sanctuary is not a sanctuary Ms. Bildner continues: Best Friends wonderful “Training Partners Program” enlists the best trainers from around the country to foster and rehabilitate dogs (mostly Pit Bulls). We are currently working very hard to get these trainers on board to help the animals. We reach out to you with the hope that you will be able to help us at this time. It will be a tremendous help if you or a foster program in your area could aid us by taking some of these dogs. Best Friends will take care of the travel details and expenses. A stipend may be provided. You will be invited to choose the dog or dogs that you take into your care. Those of us who “get” these dogs reach out to one another during these difficult times. It is wonderful to know that groups like yours exist and do such incredible work. Thank you for your time and your commitment to these terribly misunderstood animals. So, what's the rush? For a day or two I wondered what the hurry was. Why is Best Friends in such a hurry to wash their hands of those terribly misunderstood animals ? Fresh faces! The Best Friends Middle East Rescue Effort! Of course, of course! Its out with the old, in with the new! Best Friends' website proudly features photos of a brand new rescue center built just to house newly rescued dogs from the Middle East. Joe Trippi, Best Friends marketing guru and Democratic Party heavy-hitter, spun the story this way in his September 30 blog post: "CBS Evening News with Katie Couric has launched a new initiative to let viewers decide which stories they cover. Every week, viewers can vote for one of three stories and the one with the most votes gets produced as a segment on the show. This week, our friends at Best Friends Animal Society are one of the choices. They are working on an incredible rescue mission in Lebanon, transporting over 300 animals to sanctuaries out of harms way where they will be cared for and adopted. This is an amazing story that deserves to be heard. So please take a second to vote for Best Friends at the CBS Evening News site." Gee. Katie Couric and everything! All Best Friends needs to do is make a few teensy adjustments to their inventory and they are good to go. Another round of "save the animals" and "donate now." So keep that box of kleenex handy, folks! Looks like Best Friends is getting ready to play us once again. As for last year's "terribly misunderstood animals"? Tough luck, I guess. They're just old news.