Times Picayune - 06/20/2014, Page B06
Louisiana is not exactly known for its responsible, compassionate treatment of animals. Unfortunately, Gov. Bobby Jindal, who recently vetoed House Bill 1091, seems intent on keeping it this way.
Despite massive efforts to educate pet owners and breeders, Louisiana boasts one of the lowest spay/neuter rates and therefore one of the highest pet overpopulation rates in the nation. As a result, every year, tens of thousands of cats and dogs are herded into local shelters and euthanized. Many people in Louisiana also tether their dogs for their entire lives with little or no protection from the elements. For these owners, dogs are more like lawn ornaments than living, feeling creatures with significant social and emotional intelligence. Indeed, when East Baton Rouge Metropolitan Council members John Delgado and Buddy Amoroso tried to pass an ordinance in May 2013 limiting tethering to an hour at a time, several other council members ultimately blocked the proposal for fear of upsetting these most unenlightened constituents.
HB 1091 represented a first small step in the right direction. It would have prohibited dog owners from transporting “dogs in pickup truck beds on certain roadways unless humanely secured” and thereby have protected many dogs from serious anxiety, physical injuries and death. It also would have sent a message that Louisiana is finally starting to view dogs as more than just physical property and therefore as more valuable and deserving of better treatment than a piece of furniture. The symbolism was just as important as the substance.
Originally sponsored by Rep. Thomas P. Willmott, R-Kenner, and co-sponsored by Robert E. Billiot, D-Westwego, HB 1091 passed the Louisiana House 53-34 on April 22 and the Senate 30-7 on May 21. This rare bipartisan consensus, however, still did not satisfy Gov. Jindal. He ended up vetoing the bill because he “trust(s) that our citizens can care for their pets without the nanny state intervening to dictate how a dog is secured in the bed of a pickup truck.”
But why does Gov. Jindal trust all Louisianans to treat their dogs in a kind, responsible manner when so many do not? Indeed, it is a very good thing that Louisiana passed animal cruelty statutes before Gov. Jindal came into power. Otherwise, he would probably have vetoed them on the same demonstrably false grounds.