For the past two years, I have been advocating for the passage of two bills to protect Michigan’s shelter pets: a bill to end pound seizure (giving shelter cats and dogs for experimentation) and to end gas chamber euthanasia. As the drafter of the pound seizure bill, I spent months before it was filed working on the language and garnering support. I am sad to announce that the Michigan legislature will end its 2-year session this week with both bills dying in the Senate Agriculture Committee. What is sad about this is that both bills had enough support to pass and passed the House of Representatives with a large majority. Instead, they died in committee because on several occasions certain legislators held up the process and we simply ran out of time.
This may sound naive, but when a bill is assigned to a committee (where it must receive a hearing before moving on), shouldn’t the chair of the committee have some obligation or sense of fairness so that all the bills receive a hearing? Why is it that one person can hold up the legislative process and deny other legislators from learning the issue and voting on its merits? To me, that is not an objective and fair legislative process. Yet I find that people in the legislative world, even lobbyists and advocates, just accept this as normal. They accept that one person can bring the legislative process to a grinding halt. We should not accept that as appropriate. So with the support of many legislators who are hard-working and want to protect animals, we will persevere and re-file the bills (hopefully) in early 2011. In the meantime, we need to keep our voices strong and speak out against shelters becoming the shopping centers for the research industry, and for animals to take their last breath in a steel container filled with gas. As humans, we can do better; and we must do better.