Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Hey, Jersey grrls and boyz! Ready to give up your dog? NJ State Assemblyman Neil Cohen: Confused? Misled? Or just one more animal extremist lackey Democrat? Democrat sells out dog owners. Again. Neil Cohen, the staunch Democrat representing blue collar, ethnically diverse Union Township and Elizabeth, New Jersey--just across the river from Staten Island--strayed from his trail of bread crumbs in a big way. Cohen recently sponsored a proposal allowing owners to sue for compensation for their own emotional pain and suffering if their pet gets sick or dies after eating contaminated pet food. Under the proposal, owners could sue veterinarians, groomers, pet food stores and pet food manufacturers, and there are no limits to the amounts they can demand. To a many, this might sound like a good thing. The recent outbreak of melamine contamination in some pet foods caused illness and even the deaths of cherished companions. It scared pet owners everywhere, and exposed a need for oversight and quality control in imported food stuffs. But Cohen's bill has devastating implications for dog owners. Neil Cohen and the Law of Unintended Consequences Introduced to the New Jersey legislature on May 14 and heard in committee almost immediately, Cohen's A4217 would shake the foundations of pet ownership if enacted. Things don't always turn out as planned. The proposal sets up a dramatic increase in veterinary care costs, because vets would be forced to dramatically increase their malpractice coverage. It would also increase the cost of pet food and pet services, since any business that manufactures, sells or dispenses pet food will also need to increase their liability coverage in a big way. The cost for all of this will inevitably be passed on to the consumer. The pet owner. You and me. Does Democrat Cohen, whose district's per capita income falls far below the average for New Jersey, have any concerns about the impact his proposal will have on the wallets in his own constituency? Any at all? Or does he believe that only "people like us" should own pets? But in addition to pricing people out of owning a pet, and making it even more difficult to afford veterinary care, A4217 has another special feature buried deep within language attached to the original proposal. Enslavement? Chattel? I treat my dog like a slave? Are you freakin' kidding me? A4217 included language that reasoned. . . “establishment of a statutory right of legal action to recover economic and non-economic damages …..would overcome the antiquated common law notion that a pet animal is chattel…..” Translation: the bill's supporters endorse guardianship. Hand your dog over to the State of New Jersey Assemblyman Cohen might be hoping no one noticed--or maybe he didn't notice himself--but that's what the bill is all about. Here's the hitch: it may sound kinder and gentler to insist that pets are not lowly "property". But think about it: if you don't own your dog. . . who's in charge? If the State of New Jersey decides to seize all pit bulls and kill them--like they do in Denver and Miami--guess what? If your dog doesn't actually belong to you, there's not much you can do to stop them. The last defense, the last hope of stopping the State of New Jersey from marching into your home and seizing your dog in this scenario would be the protection of private property afforded by the U. S. Constitution. Which Neil Cohen and his supporters, under the reasoning provided for A4217, undermines. Elizabeth, New Jersey. . .Vegan paradise? I think its fair to say that veganism is not a traditional value in places like Elizabeth and Union, New Jersey. Local residents are going to be pretty surprised to learn that their Assemblyman listened to animal extremist organizations like the Animal Legal Defense Fund and sponsored a bill which will make it harder--not easier--to bring home the bacon. To quote the ASPCA's reasoning on their endorsement of guardianship and their shift to a clearly animal extremist position:

“By viewing animals as more than mere property, the focus shifts from the ownership interest in the animal to what is in the best interest of that individual animal. . . For example, can we continue to use animals in medical research and for human consumption and still consider ourselves their guardians? These practices certainly are not in the animals’ best interests, nor do they respect them as separate and unique entities. . ."

Now don't get me wrong. Even though I eat meat and I wear leather, I'm a truly pro-choice Democrat.

I believe that what's for dinner is a matter of personal taste and opinion.

Not a matter of law. To each his (or her) own, right? Will the voters in Cohen's district mostly agree with me on that? I think so.

So what's going on here? Who got to Neil Cohen? Bada-bing bada-boom, Neil!

Better get out the magnifying glass and find that trail of bread crumbs fast, Assemblyman Cohen. You sponsored a proposal that is not going to go down easily with your constituency. In fact, special interests and animal extremism fall clear off the party platform. Or they used to, anyway. Stuff like this, plus Lloyd Levine and his antics in California, really makes me wonder. Are we still Democrats?

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