2-16-09 Lessons in Government

I knew I should’ve paid more attention in Government class in high school!

Funny how we discover many years later that we get to revisit those old subjects and learn about them in REAL life.
I went to the statehouse to propose some animal welfare changes, and boy did I get an education of how our government operates!

I went with a group of people to lobby for changes on some proposed bills. There were several groups there to lobby for the same thing, so we met up at the Indiana Historical Society and were briefed on what to say, how to say it, and not to get too carried away and be thought of as “the crazy dog lady”. There was a question and answer period and then we walked to the statehouse and stood on the steps, many had signs and were holding them towards the traffic, “Honk if you hate puppy mills” and the like.
We listened to some guest speakers on the subjects and then the representative that authored the bill we wanted came out and spoke to us.
I was told before we went there to take her off the side and speak with her about MY changes I wanted to see added to her bill, and luckily, I was able to do so. Representative Linda Lawson is the author of the bill and a fellow animal lover. Just as rally was ending, we heard there is already opposition to the bill by another representative because his daughter breeds dogs.
They aren’t after hobby breeders, but the puppy mills that are cranking out HUNDREDS of dogs per year. They want to stop the abuse and mistreatment of the dogs. I can’t imagine anyone NOT being for that. If they have a problem with it, do they have a guilty conscience? Makes you wonder huh?
Then it was on to the inside of the capital building and through the metal detectors. I’ve seen some beautiful courthouses and buildings but WOW! This one blew me away. Where was my camera when I needed it? Marble floors and columns, huge statues, and inside the dome is stained glass. It was gorgeous! Then we looked up, and they told us one side is the House of Representatives, the opposite side is the Senate. We went upstairs to meet with our reps, and it was nothing like I expected. The House side has a huge picture window to see inside the room where all the decisions are made. It’s full of desks and chairs and a podium up front, and there is a speaker to the hallway so we can hear what they are saying.
There are two entrances to the room, one side for democrats, and the other side for republicans. Kind of makes you wonder how we will ever get bi-partisan leadership when the entire room is divided that way huh?
There is a desk outside each entrance, with an attendant and a doorman who is CONSTANTLY opening and closing the door for everyone.
Our job was to go up to the attendant at the desk, write a little note on who we wanted to speak with and give it to them to take to our Rep. Then our Rep. would come out of the room, stand there and talk to us for a minute then go back inside.
I was glad to find all the Reps. were so polite and easy to talk to, I was thinking I had to have a speech or something, nope, just tell them what you want…some wrote down little notes so they could research it, and then they shook your hand, told you “I’m in your corner”, and back they went.
When the house session started, I was actually a little surprised to hear them open with prayer! Division of church and state and all, but it made me feel good.
The Senate side was similar but no picture window, instead a large screen TV so you could see what was going on. Again it was divided and again I went to the wrong door first, I asked them why the room was divided, the answer was “Because that’s the way it’s always been”….so much for forward thinking. I said, “So I’m in enemy territory now right?” laughing, they said, “No, we’re the good guys” joking back. What, no middle of the road people? Neither Democrat nor Republican? Clearly, I would not fit in with this place.
I actually felt sorry for the doorman because he was constantly opening the doors letting the reps in and out, not like they can’t open the door themselves, heck if it were me I’d block it open. Save the state money on the salary for the doorman.
Honestly, it was so crazy in there, and I really don’t know what my Reps. look like, face it; they all sort of look the same in suits. One woman said she was waiting on her Rep, he was supposed to be a shorter man with gray hair, which described the majority of the Reps. in the room.
I was thinking we would speak to the Reps either in a room with a few others, or maybe in an office. Nope. They all just came out, talked for a minute then back to work. They were constantly coming in and out of session to talk to the lobbyists. The hallways were scenes you see on CNN about Wall Street. There are hundreds of suits walking around, darting in and out of session doors.
When Senator Phil Boots came out to talk to me, I asked him if it was always this crazy, he said “Yeah, pretty much”.
No wonder our government is the shape it’s in, how can any work get done when you are constantly having to go in and out of session to talk to people? Yet, I’m told when you show up to the Capital to talk to them it’s supposed to mean something special, taking time out of your busy schedule and it’s supposed to really help when you want to see a law passed. Frankly, it looks more like we are bothering them. I don’t know why they don’t limit lobbyists to one particular day and then not allow interruptions while they are working.
Well, at least I can say I did it. I tried to help. I pray it works, they vote on it tomorrow, then it can be passed, not passed, or more changes made and voted on again later. Then it goes to the Senate for the same. Then if it passes both House and Senate it goes to the governor who can veto it, but if he does, his veto can be overridden. Sound like a complicated mess? That’s because it is. Still, I have to admire those who are in politics and do these jobs, they must thrive on stress. I know I came out with a splitting headache and sore feet. I saw all these women in high heel shoes on that hard floor! OUCH!
I know I’m ready to shed the dress clothes and hose and get into some comfortable things to wear that don’t squeeze me so much!
Dale Grubb told me to keep watching for changes online to the bill, problem is they can’t update it fast enough, they’ve already added an amendment to it before I went today, and they lumped both of the bills I was after together. He told me they do make changes fast. It’s going to be hard to keep up with it.
Whether or not I’ve done any good, I don’t know. Nevertheless, I can say I tried, and I was the only person in my district so I did it alone. I’m still proud of myself, I saw a problem, and wondered why nothings being done, and it’s because there was no law against it. So I said, who do you have to talk to about a law? They said, talk to your rep and I did, E-mail and in person. I came, I saw, I rallied, and hopefully, I’ll conquer, for the animals’ sake.

Note: As of February 12th, the amended bill has passed and goes on to the full house for a 2nd reading and vote. It’s not exactly what I had in mind, but it’s a start. I expect more changes before it passes as a law.
You can keep track of legislation on www.IN.gov I urge you all to e-mail, write or call your Representative on issues that concern you and voice your opinion.

2/2/09 Outside Dogs

Outside Dogs

Indiana has a huge problem with animal welfare laws. They are too unspecific therefore; there is too much gray area in order to prosecute individuals that break the laws. As far as general care of a dog, as long as the dog has food, water and shelter, no matter how poor that shelter is, that is considered lawful. I have an opportunity in a couple weeks to go to the statehouse and try to amend some bills currently on the table regarding animal welfare and I intend to go and try to make some changes.
I urge you all to contact your local representative, Fountain County is represented by Dale Grubb and he can be reached:

By Mail...
State Representative F. Dale GrubbIndiana House of Representatives200 W. Washington St.Indianapolis, IN 46204-2786

By Phone...
Call toll-free (from anywhere within Indiana):1-800-382-9842or directly at (317)232-9600

By Internet...
Representative Grubb's email address is h42@in.gov.

You can also contact me by email at groomroompetspa@comcast.net I’ll be happy to email you the petition I’ll be taking with me and I would love to have your thoughts and name to add to it.

Let me state for the record that I really don’t have a huge issue with dogs living outside or being outside as long as they have the body and coat to protect them from the elements and they get some attention. I use to live on a farm, and dogs lived outside. I can deal with that, but the law doesn’t take into consideration the type of dog, the hair coat, the body condition, or the weather conditions at all times. This is why dogs that live in the house are more apt to be in better shape, they have access to heat and air conditioning and there is much less chance of them suffering due to the elements.
However, that gray area of the law is exactly where I have a problem. I keep hearing “he’s an outside dog”. The problem is, a dog with extremely short coat is just not meant to live outside in the elements. I’ve been hearing from people that have Rat Terriers and Chihuahuas that those dogs are “outside” dogs. When we have extreme temperatures, it should be considered animal cruelty to leave your pets outdoors. So many people think all dogs are like livestock; if they were born outside, they can live outside. Just because a dog has a doghouse or even some straw in the house, that doesn’t make it toasty for them, especially if they have no hair to protect them! Not all dogs have an undercoat for insulation and first sign of hypothermia is shivering! Some ill-informed people think that certain breeds just shiver, nevermind it’s in the teens outside.
Where does common sense come in?
If it’s too cold for you outside with a coat on, it’s probably too cold for your dog to be out there. Same with summertime, if it’s too hot for you, it’s too hot for your dog.
The benefits of having your pet indoors are many; your dog will have more attention and therefore be better behaved. Your pet won’t have access to the wild things and will be less likely to fight with them, get skunked, or become road kill. Your pet will stay cleaner and smell better longer, and is less likely to suffer from parasites, and YOU will have lower blood pressure by petting and loving your calm pet. Studies have shown that pets do reduce your blood pressure. (Of course, that depends on your pet and what havoc they may wreak in your house.) Training takes care of that.
The problem with most outside animals is they are “out of sight, out of mind” and tend to be neglected. They may get food and water but that’s often just about it. You can’t ignore a dog that’s in your face.
One of the reasons some people use for putting the family pet outside is allergies. Well there are a number of solutions for that problem.
1. Don’t get pets if you are allergic to them
2. Take medication for your allergies if you cannot avoid being around your pets, or look into allergy shots for yourself to build up a tolerance.
3. Allerpet products can be wiped on your dog or cat weekly to prevent you from reacting to their dander, as well as more frequent bathing of your pet is helpful.
4. You may need to find another home for your pet.
Tossing Fido outside is not the solution. Use common sense and take care of your pets, or get a pet rock. They are easy to take care of, inexpensive to own and are hypoallergenic. You aren’t likely to be arrested for neglecting your pet rock. Re-homing a pet rock is also much easier. I don’t know of any pet rock rescues, but I’m willing to start one if they ever become a problem.