Higginbotham At Large Sunday 24 January 2010:
In This Issue:
- Why Some Huntingtonians Need To Look Up "Vigilantism" In A Dictionary
- Why Animal Abuse Is Bad For Economic Development
Why Some Huntingtonians Need To Look Up “Vigilantism” In A Dictionary
When Huntington passed a dog-tethering ordinance certain members of Huntington’s city council tried to prevent the new ordinance’s enforcement by cautioning animal activists against “vigilantism”, by which they meant reporting violations of the law. When a well-intentioned Huntington woman made a list of Huntington residences where dogs were being tethered in violation of the law, some of them without shelter during our recent 15 degree cold snap, and handed this list to law enforcement officials she was accused of “stalking” a city councilman whose address was on the list. So worried that her group would be accused of vigilantism, one animal welfare leader actually sided with the animal abusing city councilman against the woman who turned him in.
This is why some Huntingtonians need to look up the word “vigilantism” in a dictionary. And while they’re in research mode I hope they will also go down to the Huntington police department and find out if there’s such a thing as a citizen’s arrest for, if making a citizen’s arrest is not vigilantism then certainly it is not vigilantism to report a crime – which is all the animal activist did.
Huntington, if you’re reading this blog online then you have internet access and can use Dictionary.com which defines a “vigilante” as “any person who takes the law into his or her own hands, as by avenging a crime.”
The woman who made the list of addresses where dogs were being tethered in violation of the Huntington law did not “take the law into her own hands” nor did she “avenge a crime.” She simply asked Huntington to enforce its laws and she merely reported a crime. This, folks, is good citizenship. When you see a crime being committed you are supposed to report it. Don’t they teach citizenship in Cabell County schools? Oh, you say Cabell Countians are just Wayne Countians who moved uptown? OK, don’t they teach citizenship in Wayne County schools? And how can members of council tell Huntington’s children to grow up to be good citizens if they refuse to obey and enforce Huntington’s laws?
By the way, Huntington, you can’t get this definition from a dictionary but you need to know its meaning. When a so-called humane officer, police chief, mayor or city council member says a law is “unenforceable” that’s code for “I don’t want to enforce it and you don’t have to obey it.”
Certainly any law is more enforceable when citizens are not intimidated into not reporting violations.
Incidentally, Kanawha County readers, you have a new dog tethering ordinance, too, so when you see your city councilman or your pastor or your neighbor tying his poor dog to a stake in the yard without food, water or shelter for hours at a time, don't hesitate to call the police and the Kanawha Charleston Human Association Animal Shelter. If you are dismissed as a "vigilante" or a "stalker" by your mayor or your city councilman or by a so-called humane officer, call the news media.
If you know where there’s a so-called “humane officer” who won’t investigate animal abuse laws, get them fired. If you know where there’s a city council member who violates animal abuse laws, make sure everybody in their ward knows. Oh, and report it to the news media. Shame and embarrassment often work where so-called humane officers won't. Did you ever wonder why Native Americans didn't need prisons or why the ancient religious practice of "shunning" is such an effective means of reigning in behavior that doesn't meet with society's approval?
Why Animal Abuse Is Bad For Economic Development
“We don't want tourists or businesses to perceive our community as a place that condones animal abuse," Dr. Cecelia Perrow, President, Grants/Cibola county Chamber of Commerce.
Civilized people don’t want to live in a city where their neighbors can tether an animal 24 hours a day in freezing temperatures, with no liquid water to drink and no shelter against the wind and the cold. As I’ve written in my blog before, “stray” animals and wild animals are better off than tethered dogs because a tethered or confined dog cannot go in search of warmth, water, food or shelter but even a wild raccoon can climb into the warm engine compartment of a parked car to seek some relief from the cold and a “stray” dog or cat can search or beg for food.
Suppose you were visiting friends or relatives in a city that allowed people to abuse animals either by its refusal to pass animal protection laws or its refusal to enforce them? Would you want to live there? Suppose you bought a house in a city where city council members commit crimes against animals and when you tried to report it to the police or humane officers you were scolded for “stalking” or “vigilantism”, what would you think of this town? Could you tell your business associates and friends that this is a good city in which to start a business or raise a family?
Unnecessary and preventable cruelty to animals isn’t just an ethical and moral issue it’s an economic development issue. Chambers of Commerce and other economic development organizations should help brand their cities as enlightened and civilized “creative class” cities by insisting on specific animal protection laws and their enforcement.
When asked about cockfighting's role in New Mexico's economic development, John Garcia, Secretary of Economic Development, recently said on KOAT Channel 7: "It's an absurd form of entertainment that is from the Dark Ages. I think we need to look ahead at different benefits, different industries ... prostitution has an economic impact, too, but it's not legal." In addition, the Grants/Cibola County Chamber of Commerce and the Lordsburg/Hidalgo County Chamber of Commerce both are opposed to cockfighting in their communities. "Cockfighting is not the image we want the world to have of Cibola County. We don't want tourists or businesses to perceive our community as a place that condones animal abuse," Dr. Cecelia Perrow, President, Grants/Cibola county Chamber of Commerce. (From http://www.apnm.org/)
What’s bad for your city’s brand is bad for your city’s economic development. Yes, I know your city may lose a few animal abusing rednecks if you pass and enforce laws against animal abuse but the kind of people who hurt and abuse animals for sport are not the kind of people you’re going to feature on the front page of your Chamber brochure.