I Vote For My Dogs
When you share your opinions with people as much as I do, you tend to get a lot of feedback from readers. Some of it is quite nice and I'm grateful. Those responses usually come from people who read DOG NEWS. I get messages that are much more hateful from animal rights people when I post online about animal rights issues or reply to a news article about dog breeding or animal legislation. If I listened to some of these people I would have various broken bones and/or be dead by now. One person told me that I was “pretending to be a humane person” because the avatar photo with my online reply was a picture of my dog. It seems that only animal rights people can love their dogs.
One kind of message always leaves me a little confused. If I state an opinion disliking AR-inspired regulation for dog breeders, I often get approving messages from people who assume that I'm a dyed-in-the-wool conservative or Tea Party person. They're ready to take me to the next meeting and tell me all about the horrors of the Democratic party.
I should say right here that I don't really have a party anymore. I'm a dog person. I vote for my dogs. Property rights, regulation, finances – for me everything comes down to how things are going to affect me and my dogs. When someone runs for office, I want to know if HSUS owns them or not. Actually, if HSUS can buy a politician, someone else can probably buy him or her, too, but that's the issue that concerns me. I no longer care which party someone is in. I think there are good and bad people in both parties. One of the things I do in my state each election is help the Sportsmen's and Animal Owners' Voting Alliance send out and analyze questionnaires about animal issues for candidates running for office so we can make endorsements. They have volunteers in many states who work on this project and it's a good way to know where candidates stand on animal issues.
However, my best friend is a liberal Democrat who does just as much to fight bad dog legislation as I do. I know that it drives her crazy when people assume that you have to be a conservative Republican to oppose animal rights. The tone of many e-mail lists about dog legislation IS conservative or Republican-oriented and that's too bad in some ways. I think it makes Democrats and liberals feel under attack or responsible for some of the things that animal rights people do in the name of “helping” animals.
Why is animal rights linked to liberals or the Democratic party? Well, it's a social issue. At one time, in the 19th century, improving care for animals was linked to improving care for children in our society. The idea that people are brutish and it requires government intervention to make them behave better and live the way they “should” live is a liberal idea. Plus, we live in a time when increased government regulation is associated with the Democratic party. And, it's the Democratic party that includes a caucus for animal rights at their Convention. Animal rights is just one of a long list of ways the party wants to make the world better, even if people object.
Please hold your letters. I began life as a Democrat, from generations of Democrats. FDR was a saint in my parents' home. My great-grandfather was named after Thomas Jefferson. I love the ideals of the Democratic party. I get them. I really do. But what began as a rural party with an affinity for farmers is more of an urban party now. When you look at polling data in any election now, you usually find that Republicans and conservatives win in rural areas – where there are more likely to be farmers and other people deeply involved with animals. Democrats and liberals are more likely to win in the cities. So, while today's Democratic party still shares some of the ideals of yesteryear, the demographic has changed to a large extent.
As you might imagine, this is a problem for dog owners, whether they are Republicans or Democrats. While HSUS donates to both Republican and Democratic candidates, they are far more heavily invested in Democratic candidates. They have a much stronger base in cities and universities and among young people. Many animal rights people today are located in cities and when they speak about animal issues they are speaking from ignorance. If they have pets they have probably only had a spayed or neutered animal. They don't know anything about breeding or whelping. They don't know about most health issues. They don't think in terms of generations. And they are usually completely ignorant of normal farming practices, even mistaking some ordinary things for “cruelty.” It's not easy to convince a 20-year-old college kid in the city that they don't know everything there is to know about animals. Afterall, you've only spent your entire life breeding and raising dogs. They have read an article online. All of this makes them easy prey for a manipulative group like HSUS to brainwash them.
It's easy for HSUS and ALDF (the Animal Legal Defense Fund – an animal rights legal group) to recruit young kids on colleges in urban areas. They can appeal to a natural urge to help animals and portray breeders and farmers – older people who live out in the sticks – as the bad guys. For these organizations and their recruits, they can subtly promote animal rights as a war on an older generation; as an attack on people whose values they despise – people who defend their property and claim their animals are part of that property by law. Because of the urban/rural party split, for many people it's also an attack on conservatives and others who believe the government is engaging in overreach and too much regulation. “These breeders must be regulated! They are doing terrible things to animals! Without government regulation, they will _____.” Fill in the blank. It's whatever HSUS and their allies can come up with to scare Congress and the public.
All of this happens without reference to the people who are most knowledgeable about dogs, of course, because, according to this paradigm, they can't be trusted.
Obviously, this version of reality ignores the fact that HSUS raises millions of dollars annually by using sad photos of kittens and puppies in order to spend the money on lobbying, pensions, and other things of self-interest. It's called “conflict fundraising.” Create a problem so you can make money on it. HSUS is expert at it. You have to wonder how many young people might choose to go into animal husbandry because they love animals if they weren't being diverted by the conflict needlessly created by HSUS. We have already lost several generations to the AR movement when they might have been more productively involved in animal welfare instead of animal rights.
All of this is to say that whether you are a Democrat or a Republican, it doesn't matter. Our common enemy is still the animal rights movement and HSUS. I would just point out that you don't have to be a Republican or a conservative to hate the over-regulation of breeders. In fact, some Democrats and liberals can feel alienated by their more conservative friends on dog lists when these subjects come up. Bad legislation is just that – bad legislation. You don't have to belong to one party or another to be able to recognize it or hate it.