Update in Chicago-We Won

Posted on 03/16/2009

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Dedication Stopped HSUS Freight Train,

But Watch Out For Senators Cutting Deals

 

by JOHN YATES

American Sporting Dog Alliance

http://www.americansportingdogalliance.org

asda@conline.net

 

This article is archived at: http://eaglerock814.proboards107.com/index.cgi?action=display&board=general&thread=30

 

Activism by dog owners stopped the Humane Society of the United States (HSUS) freight train in Illinois and the City of Chicago this past week.

 

Congratulations!

 

You did what many people thought was impossible. You stopped HSUS in its tracks in a state that is a must-win battle for the powerful and radical animal rights group, which is pushing two bills that would have a devastating effect on people who raise dogs.

 

Also, in the City of Chicago, where HSUS has political clout at the highest levels, a mandatory spay/neuter ordinance stalled during a committee hearing.

 

However, it would be inaccurate to say that you defeated HSUS. You stopped them. You fought them to a stalemate. You have forced them to back down because they didn’t have the votes to win.

 

But you can also expect a bag of political dirty tricks to emerge in the coming days, and the American Sporting Dog Alliance is urging you to be prepared to continue this fight with renewed vigilance, energy and dedication.

 

Here’s what happened, and what to expect.

 

In the state Senate, SB 139 and SB 53 did not get enough support to pass in committee. SB 139 would have made tail docking and ear cropping into felony animal cruelty offenses, and SB 53 would have imposed irrational and burdensome restrictions on people who raise dogs.

 

Votes were not taken, but the bills’ sponsors saw the handwriting on the wall and chose not to force the issue in the face of certain defeat. Several senators credited numerous letters in opposition from dog owners as being an important factor in changing their positions. The American Sporting Dog Alliance was at the forefront of this effort.

 

However, the bills’ sponsors did not simply allow the legislation to die. Instead, they turned them into what are called “shell bills.” Shell bills are stripped of all language and sent to the Senate floor as an empty document.

 

The senators have until April 3, 2009, to amend new language into the bills, and this deadline can be extended in some cases. This keeps the bills alive, in case the sponsors can find enough support to pass them. If the empty bills are amended at some point, they would be sent back to their Senate committees for reconsideration.

 

However, dog owners were lied to by the sponsor of the House version of the kennel legislation, HB 198. Prior to the hearings, Rep. John A. Fritchey assured dog owners that this legislation was not going to be moved in the House. He said the Senate version would be amended, and then be sent to the House.

 

He lied through his teeth.

 

While the Senate hearings were underway, Fritchey got the House Occupational License Committee to approve the bill and send it to the House floor with a “do pass” recommendation. Debate was limited. It now has had its second reading before the House, and could be voted upon or amended at any time.

 

Fritchey has promised not to attempt to move the bill in the House, but we no longer believe his promises because of the utter dishonesty of his actions on the bill in committee.

 

Our hunch is that he plans to come up with an HSUS-anointed bill to be inserted into the Senate shell bill, while simultaneously gutting the House version and inserting Senate language to avoid sending the bill back to the committee, which gave it a cool reception. We have no evidence that our hunch is correct, but this is a common political dirty trick on controversial legislation.

 

Enter more dirty politics

 

The Senate bills’ sponsors have announced that they intend to amend the shell bills by negotiating changes that will reduce the number of people who are opposed to them, Senate Legislative Analyst Amanda Wallen told the American Sporting Dog Alliance.

 

Wallen said she has been assigned to negotiate possible compromises with various interest groups, including dog owners and the state Department of Agriculture. However, Wallen said the negotiations involve only lobbyists for the various groups. A major job of lobbyists is to cut deals and make compromises. The lobbyists meet next this coming Thursday.

 

Dog owners are being represented by four different lobbyists (one was hired by a local kennel club, one was hired by a private individual, one represents commercial breeders and the fourth one represents the Illinois Federation of Outdoor Resources), even though most dog owners will have no input into any agreements that might be negotiated by the lobbyists. In turn, the HSUS lobbyists and the bills’ sponsors will try to find language that is acceptable enough to some dog owners to reduce opposition, if they can convince the groups and their lobbyists to accept them.

 

These kinds of “divide and conquer” tactics are a hallmark of HSUS. The tactic is to find some people who are willing to accept some of the HSUS positions, or who are willing to sacrifice other dog owners if their own interests are protected.

 

We expect the Federation and Illinois Breeders Association lobbyists to hold firm in their opposition to this legislation, but simply don’t know what the other two lobbyists have been directed to do. We do know that some of these lobbyists have been negotiating directly with HSUS, and this concerns us.

 

The American Sporting Dog Alliance considers the use of lobbyists to be an effective part of communicating with elected officials and as a resource to help develop strategy. However, we are uncomfortable about the use of lobbyists to speak for dog owners because most of us have no input into the process.

 

We believe dog owners are quite capable of speaking for themselves by informing elected officials directly about what they want and don’t want in legislation.

 

No compromise or deal on this legislation can represent the views of more than a small percentage of dog owners.

 

The American Sporting Dog Alliance advocates direct contact with elected officials by people who raise dogs. We urge dog owners to write letters, send faxes, fire off emails and make phone calls to let elected officials know your views. Elected officials care about the views of their constituents, and a lot of letters and phone calls can make a big difference in how they vote.

 

It works. The Illinois senators reported a flood of letters of opposition, and say that this was a key factor in their reluctance to support the bills. Several senators said that the large number of letters from dog owners was a major factor in their reluctance to support this legislation.

 

In addition, the American Sporting Dog Alliance is categorically opposed to any form of compromise on these two destructive pieces of legislation.

 

There is no need for HB 53, as current laws have completely addressed every problem that has occurred in Illinois. Existing state and federal kennel laws already are in place and working well, and Illinois has one of the toughest animal cruelty laws in America. There is no situation that cannot be fully addressed by these laws.

 

Senate Bill 139 cannot be changed in any way that is acceptable to the American Sporting Dog Alliance. It is absurd to call tail docking and ear cropping animal torture or cruelty, and we cannot compromise one inch on this issue. Both procedures are routinely and safely performed by breeders, specialists and veterinarians.

 

It’s not broken. Don’t fix it

 

We have learned that “compromise” language will be inserted into the shell bill for SB 139 as early as the coming week. We received a copy of a letter from Sen. Linda Holmes to a constituent that describes the deal.

 

Holmes’ letter said: “There is greater agreement that if such a bill were to be introduced, it would not seek to make tail docking and ear cropping illegal. At most it will require ear cropping done under veterinarian supervision and tail docking also, if done after the pups are 5 days old (the band method for infant pups would be acceptable). I was in favor of those provisions, but opposed to making it illegal in Illinois to crop ears and dock tails.”

 

Very similar language is written into current Pennsylvania legislation. However, the trick used by HSUS in Pennsylvania was to craft language that is very vague, open to interpretation and places the burden of proof on the owner of a dog. In essence, dog owners would be unconstitutionally forced to prove their innocence to an alleged violation, but are given no way to prove it. It is a classic “Catch 22.”

 

The American Sporting Dog Alliance maintains that any compromise is giving the radical animal rights movement an open door into the lives of good people who own and raise dogs. We cannot and will not accept this.

 

Thus, we are urging dog owners to continue taking action as citizens, by urging the senators to reject any alleged compromise on either bill (see below for contact information). We also are urging dog owners to contact clubs of which they are members and clearly state your opposition to any compromise legislation.

 

The American Sporting Dog Alliance believes that dog owners should go for broke and defeat this bad legislation. It is time for us to stop groveling and fight back.

 

To compromise with evil, is evil.

 

Here is a link to a previous report that will provide contact information for Senate committee members, and also more information about the now-withdrawn legislation: http://eaglerock814.proboards107.com/index.cgi?action=display&board=general&thread=26 .. Please let the senators know that any proposed compromise does not represent you.

 

Must-Win For HSUS

 

Illinois is the top priority for HSUS this year, and its importance to the animal rights group is equivalent to the failed AB 1634 in California last year.

 

Here is why Illinois is critically important to HSUS:

 

  • It is the home state of President Barack Obama. What happens in Illinois will catch the ear of the President and he will pay close attention to the results.

 

  • Many state officials still have a personal line of communication directly to the President, from Obama’s days as a state senator and U.S. Senator representing Illinois. Illinois officials who are aligned with HSUS can speak directly to Obama to influence federal legislation.

 

  • Liberal Democrats hold strong margins of power in Springfield and among the Illinois congressional delegation. This political group is the most important to HSUS, and is seen as a key to passing animal rights legislation. HSUS wants to win big in Illinois to send a message to the rest of the nation. HSUS has hired a full-time state director and an army of lobbyists in Illinois. Thus far, dog owners have frustrated what HSUS thought would be a slam-dunk.

 

  • Sen. Dick Durbin represents Illinois in the U.S. Senate. Durbin is the most important senator for HSUS. He has taken the lead in sponsoring several pieces of HSUS animal rights legislation in Congress, including last year’s notorious efforts to amend the Farm Bill to include home hobby breeders under federal regulation, and the recent PUPS Bill. A victory in Illinois gives Durbin a greater mandate in the U.S. Senate. He also was Obama’s political mentor in the Senate.

 

  • The Chicago ordinance represents a major alliance between HSUS and some of the most important political powerbrokers in Illinois. The key elected and non-elected players in Chicago make or break many Illinois candidates on the local, state and federal level.

 

In that context, dog owners must understand and appreciate the importance of what they accomplished in Illinois this week. You have stalled the HSUS freight train, and you can derail it if you refuse to compromise and continue to take an active role.

 

Chicago

 

Chicago activists pulled off a near miracle by stalling a spay/neuter mandate in committee. The battle is far from over, but it became clear at this week’s hearing that passing the ordinance now is questionable, at best.

 

Alderman Edward Burke, who is the most powerful member of City Council and a cosponsor of the ordinance, told a Chicago reporter before the hearing that he had lined up the 26 votes required to pass the ordinance. Following the hearing, Burke was much less optimistic, but said he believes he still has the votes.

 

After the hearing, however, Burke got a boost when Chicago Mayor Richard Daley told reporters that he supports the ordinance. If there is a bright spot in Daley’s comments, it is that the mayor didn’t sound like he was familiar with many of the issues involved, or much of the evidence that contradicts the rationale for the ordinance.

 

Thus, we are urging dog owners to make a concerted effort to encourage Mayor Daley to change his mind. Education about the issues probably is the key, combined with information that proves the vast majority of Chicagoans oppose the ordinance. A current Chicago Tribune poll shows 80-percent opposition from 6,216 participants. Here is a link to the poll: http://www.chicagotribune.com/news/chi-sterilize-pets-vote,0,4887957,post.poll ..

 

Here is Mayor Daley’s mail and fax contact information: Office of the Mayor, City Hall, 121 N. LaSalle, Room 507, Chicago, IL 60602; fax (312) 744-8045.

 

Burke has been stung by the complete refutation of all of the alleged rationale for the ordinance, as well as strong opposition from the Chicago Veterinary Medical Association, the Illinois State Veterinary Medical Association and letters of opposition from hundreds of dog owners.

 

Several aldermen reported that they have been besieged by letters, phone calls, faxes and emails in opposition. They openly questioned the ordinance at the hearing and expressed major reservations about it. Clearly, Burke’s support is waning, despite his power and political clout. Constituents’ voices are being heard.

 

The fact that dog owners’ voices are being heard is a tribute to the four Chicagoans who are working closely with the American Sporting Dog Alliance. For more than a year, Michele Smith, Margo Milde, Karen Perry and Ami Moore have dedicated their lives to defeating this ordinance. Each has devoted several hundred hours to the cause of bringing dog owners together in Chicago. Special thanks also goes to radio talk show host Steve Dale, whose reportage on this issue has been exceptional, and to Dr. Shelly Rubin of the Illinois State Veterinary Medical Association and Dr. Shannon Greeley, president of the Chicago Veterinary Medical Association, for their strong and courageous support.

Dog owners still need to take a more active role at the hearing when it resumes at a later date, which has not been announced. A reported 87 people signed up to speak in favor of the ordinance, while only 42 people signed up to oppose it. Only a few of the scheduled speakers got a chance to testify this week, before the hearing was postponed.

The American Sporting Dog Alliance is urging all Chicago dog owners to continue to contact their aldermen and voice strong opposition to the ordinance.

Please write, fax, phone and/or email your own alderman, and as many other aldermen as you can. Here is a map of City Council districts that will lead to contact information: http://www.chicagotribune.com/news/local/chi-alderman-map-htmlpage,0,338384.htmlpage .. Here is another way to find contact information, listed by the aldermen’s names: http://egov.cityofchicago.org/city/webportal/portalProgramAction.do?programId=536879154&channelId=-536879035&topChannelName=Government ..

The American Sporting Dog Alliance represents owners, breeders and professionals who work with breeds of dogs that are used for hunting. We also welcome people who work with other breeds, as legislative issues affect all of us. We are a grassroots movement working to protect the rights of dog owners, and to assure that the traditional relationships between dogs and humans maintains its rightful place in American society and life. The American Sporting Dog Alliance also needs your help so that we can continue to work to protect the rights of dog owners. Your membership, participation and support are truly essential to the success of our mission. We are funded solely by your donations in order to maintain strict independence.

Please visit us on the web at http://www.americansportingdogalliance.org .. Our email is asda@csonline.net .

 

PLEASE CROSS-POST AND FORWARD THIS REPORT TO YOUR FRIENDS

 

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