Kansas House Bill 2513 turned out to be more controversial than anyone would have thought at the time. Ridiculed on social media, the bill was derided as the single best way to ratchet up the state’s reputation as a hotbed for cruel, filthy, substandard breeders. News about the bill spread like wildfire. It was carried on major TV networks, written about in newspapers, discussed on NPR, and dissected on sites like the Huffington Post.
State Rep. Ed Trimmer, D-Winfield, who introduced the bill, never saw it coming.
Timmer’s proposal in 2012 would not have legalized animal abuse, endorsed loose dogs on the highway, or make it a felony to own a mixed breed.
The horror of it all.
It won’t be a surprise to friends of purebred dogs to learn that PETA was largely behind the move to undermine a bill that would have acknowledged the Cairn Terrier’s association with Kansas via the Wizard of Oz. The bill would have brought attention to a spunky breed whose “Earth Dogge” ancestors hunted on the Scottish Highlands as early as the 1600s, and whose tenacious stick-to-itiveness is legendary.
Instead, PETA relied on a common (and outdated) position that making a breed popular with “dog statehood” leads to overbreeding and “over-owning” the dogs. While this was true back in 1961 when the movie, 101 Dalmatians, led to a surge in Dalmatian puppy purchases (and their subsequent relinquishment at shelters and dog pounds), people are more aware about dog ownership issues than they were when John F. Kennedy was President. Neither the purchase of a Puli by Facebook CEO, Mark Zuckerberg, nor appearances in engaging commercials for Bissell, Dr. Pepper, or Budweiser lead to a demand for Puli puppies. Memorable roles in the movies Turner and Hooch, the Harry Potter series, and as the main dog in Disney/Pixar’s movie, “Coco,” didn’t lead to shelters being overrun by Dogues de Bordeaux, Neapolitan Mastiffs, or Xolos, respectively. There is always room for improvement, but people are better informed about their dog choices, and when breed clubs learn that a movie featuring their breed is in the works, they know to be prepared.
Instead, PETA’s efforts squashed any chance to have educational dialogue about the Cairn Terrier, or purebred dogs in general. But that is, after all, their “M.O.” and a well informed public is their enemy.
Despite eleven states already having designated state dogs at the time, and even though the Wichita Eagle reported that Trimmer got plenty of positive response to his plan, the bill was squashed to the delight of PETA which gleefully proclaimed victory over breeders.