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The War is Here by David Fritsche

No need to wait, there is a war available near you now.

I remember getting up one morning, some years ago and turning on the news, which is always my morning ritual. I seldom listen to it, just glance at the weather, and grab a shower and some toast and head out the door. But on this day they kept showing an airplane flying into a building, so I stopped to watch. Then in the middle of the broadcast another plane flew into the adjoining tower. It took me some time to assimilate what was happening as it did the new media I was watching. I remember that day and it will be emblazoned on my aging mind as long as I live.

Well, it is happening again. No not airplanes and towers and such national issues, in that sense there is no parallel, but the shock and emotion is there none-the-less. All this week I have been preparing position papers and driving to the halls of local and state government to testify on some of the most gosh-awful legislation I have ever seen. It is an all out war.

I was told by another dog person working with our team that 147 pieces of legislation are pending right now in 37 states across the nation. Although each have different wording depending on which politician wrote and presented them, they all have the same emphasis behind them and the signature objectives of HSUS, the Humane Society of the United States.

Can you believe that this nation-wide campaign happened without their announcing it to us? I mean, there should be some ethical agreement in warfare that if you are going to go to war you should declare war before hand to give us a chance to prepare! Right? Well, they did their job well and their preemptive strike has been devastating. This has to go down as the Pearl Harbor of Dogdom.

My involvement sort of evolved from knowing there was a problem and then seeing Stormy Hope become our GSDCA Committee Chair for Legislative Affairs. Then I watched her take off, I mean like General Patton after a coward. Next thing I knew she was asking our club to appoint a regional committee member to serve with her, and since we have a grand total of four local members, two of which are married to the other two, I was on the hook.

I used to get about 100 emails a day from various sources, but all of a sudden I was getting double that amount. The material was pouring in and I was aware of something happening on a national scale. Then, there it was, legislation was not trickling in from place to place, but pouring in from all over the nation. Frankly, I was overwhelmed and had no idea what to do. That soon changed. My state, Nevada – the rough and rugged capitol of the west with its gun toting, rugged individualists, had proposed anti-breeder legislation and I had to do something. Then our county followed with their own – don’t leave us out of the fun – ordinances.

I scurried around to get the drafts of the laws and ordinances and started writing and sending emails to each of the legislators and commissioners, but thought it might be all for naught. Then Stormy sent me an email about a group in our state simply calling themselves NV DOG LAW, so I emailed them and got on their list. At that time it appeared there were 6 or 8 all breed people who had gotten together when I joined, but within a couple of weeks the group had grown to a sizable membership.

I went down to the Capitol to testify against the bill and there in the meeting I met my first real live HSUS paid lobbyist. She was rather pretty and charming and my casual inspection did not reveal any horns or pitchfork, although I was certain they were well concealed under her professional business attire. The committee meeting began and the bill was presented by the Senator who did such things and then the HSUS lady testified in favor of the bill citing all kinds of statistics to show that there were horrid conditions in my kennel and that I was profiting from the misery of all the neglected puppies I was breeding to dump on the local shelter. She cited facts and figures to prove beyond a doubt that breeders were evil and that more dogs were killed every year than there were dollars in the stimulus bill. I started to be amazed at the size of the problem this legislation was going to stop, and then I realized where the horns and pitchfork had been concealed – in her tongue.

Well, there were 6 or 7 people there to testify in opposition to the bill, and if I do say so myself, we did a pretty fair job. The President of the Nevada Veterinary Association testified disputing the facts and figures with his own facts and figures, concluding that the HSUS statistics must have been manufactured. He did not say anyone was lying but I did see the cute little well dressed HSUS lobbyist slip out during his conclusion.
It did not end there. That preliminary meeting was followed by the formal hearing just yesterday. What happened was absolutely amazing. The HSUS lady had managed to rally two other people to testify with her about the terrible conditions of animals and of the evils of breeding. The committee listened but the atmosphere was different this time. This time, they asked questions about the statistics and the need for some of the specifics of the proposed legislation.

During their questioning I turned to see who was left in the room and the committee chambers was packed out, I mean wall to wall, standing room only and an overflow crowd stood in the hall. These people were not professional lobbyists, but casually dressed people from farms, ranches and breed club from all over the state. Some had driven up to 300 miles to be there.  We had raised an army in just a few weeks without the help of full time staff or a big supporting budget.

When they asked for those who were going to testify against the legislation to come up, half the crowd stood up, so the chairman asked three people to come first, one being the President of the Veterinary Association, one being the President of the Livestock Association and the other begin the Head of the Nevada Department of Agriculture.  The Agriculture chief went first and told them he wanted nothing to do with this legislation and if they passed it, his department would not administer it. They had no funds, no time and he was not going to send his people out door to door snooping in fellow American’s windows and yards. The audience erupted in applause and cheers, which brought the committee chairman’s gavel pounding on the table. He threatened us soundly, but the point was made.

After those three testified, a breeder of Kelpies came up and started in, methodically working through each of the statistics previously presented by the HSUS paid lobbyist, and with grace and force, blew them away. She talked for about 20 minutes and in the end, there was nothing more to be said. It was covered.  I gave a short synopsis, and left it to the committee. We still do not have a final vote, but one Senator commented that, “well, this is dead.”

I was amazed that what HSUS had initiated clearly to destroy us had simply awakened a sleeping giant. I really didn’t know there were so many breed enthusiasts in our area, but they all came together, formed email networks, worked on wording and presentations and simply overwhelmed the proposed bill with sound arguments and real facts. I was never so proud to be called a breeder in my life.

So I am not as intimidated any longer. It is not a task for one, but for an army, and the soldiers are there, in various breeds and places in the community, ready to defend their passion and to protect the dogs they love and the sports they have chosen. Ya’ know, I think ultimately we are going to win this war and our enemy, who chose to make us the enemy before we knew it was happening, will be sorry they started it!
Here’s to General Stormy (what a great name for this task) and all those who so willingly serve to protect our rights.

ave Fritsche