Now you’ve gone and done it, Patty

Well, since the weather seems determined to be frigid and the New York State Senate seems determined to be moronic, let’s do a post that combines the two, shall we?

In January, Republican State Senator Patty Ritchie introduced Senate Bill S6490, which includes working farm dogs within the term “crops, livestock and livestock products” in the agriculture and markets law. Now, the treatment of actual livestock is a separate but equally depressing issue I won’t explore in this post for the sake of brevity, but I fully intend to tear this particular bill to shreds, so buckle in, kids.

Ritchie’s “justification” for this bill is as follows:

“Working farm dogs” provide an important. service to farmers, whether that is protecting apple orchards from deer or herding sheep, and often times have to work in inclement weather, which would typically violate animal cruelty laws. By including “working farm dogs” within. the definition of “crops, livestock and livestock products” it re-defines the “working farm dog” as “livestock” instead of a domesticated animal, thus saving the farmer from an unknowing public.

I haven’t edited any of this, including the errant periods you would think somebody in that office would catch. Short as it is and punctuation aside, this justification is such a raging catastrophe I barely know where to start, so I’m just going to rewrite it in plain English.

“‘Working farm dogs’ provide an important service to farmers in a variety of ways. They often have to spend long hours in blazing sun or frigid cold, probably without rest or water, which violates animal cruelty laws. By moving ‘working farm dogs’ into a category of animals whose welfare I can and do legally disregard, I will please the farmers who vote for me. Said farmers don’t want to be bothered with silly things like taking care of their animals, so this will protect them when the public inconveniently reports them for animal cruelty and hopefully get me another term in office.”

Now that we can all see what Ritchie really wants to accomplish, let’s talk about how illogical this justification is. She doesn’t even bother to offer any of the usual crap about working dogs being bred to handle inclement weather, possibly because she’d have to provide a list of breeds to do that, more likely because she’s lazy, less likely because she knows it’s crap. However, I’m going to address it anyway: Just because some dogs are better equipped to handle some environments doesn’t mean they are immune to those environments. Chandler’s Siberian husky is better equipped to handle February in Western New York than Monica’s greyhound, but that does not mean his Siberian husky does not feel cold or cannot get frostbite. If you still get cold in your parka and your winter boots, your dog still gets cold in his thick coat and his completely exposed paw pads. If you would like a side of expert opinion with your common sense, read this handout from the American Veterinary Medical Foundation.

Like I said, Ritchie doesn’t stipulate anything about breeds or actual work, which means Farmer Joe can chain up his thin-skinned pit bull in his back yard, call it a working farm dog and watch it freeze to death. It also means Farmer Jedidiah can keep selling puppies to pet stores while their parents live and die and rot in their filth, except now he can call them working farm dogs and nobody can do anything about it.

If you’re not already hopping mad, let’s discuss Ritchie’s opinion of her non-farmer constituents. She offers exactly zero logical reasons for why working farm dogs should be exempt from animal cruelty laws, but she has the gall to call the public “unknowing” for reporting animal cruelty when they see it. It’s your right and responsibility to report animal cruelty when you see it, and she’s basically calling you uneducated for using your eyeballs in a way that’s inconvenient for her voter base, and therefore inconvenient to her. Real nice, Patty. Real nice.

This bill is up in the Senate and Assembly. If you would like to call your state senator and tell them to kick this bill to the curb with the rest of the trash, you can find all the senators and their contact info here. If you don’t know who your senator is, you can find that here. If you’re tired of humanity right now, click here.


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