It's not often I think New York does something that Illinois should emulate. But in some cases, I'll make an exception.
New York named service dogs the official dogs of the state of New York. From Syracuse.com:
"The breed doesn't matter. In this case, a new law signed today by Gov. Andrew Cuomo celebrates any canine that works to help veterans, first responders or civilians."
According to Wikipedia, 11 other states already have official state dogs. But in those cases, the state dogs are specific breeds. In New York's case, the breed doesn't matter as long as the dog functions as a service animal.
And I love that idea. What this does is create awareness of service dogs and what they do. In the case of the other 11 states with official dogs, all it does is let people know that a certain breed exists.
On the heels of New York naming service dogs the official dogs of the state, I have a proposal. I believe the Illinois legislature should name shelter and rescue dogs the official dogs of Illinois.
I know, I know. You're going to say that our legislators have better things to do than name an official state dog. And perhaps that's true. But at the same time, if this idea became a bill, it would not need to spend huge amounts of time being debated in committees and subcommittees. Once it came up for a vote, it should pass nearly unanimously. And as much of a slug Bruce Rauner is, even HE would have a hard time finding a reason to veto it (though I know he'd try. Fuck you, Rauner, you goddamn twatwaffle).
Naming shelter and rescue dogs the official dogs of Illinois would not be a pointless honor, either. When it comes to addressing the problem of overcrowded shelters and high rates of euthanasia (which are problems all over the country; not just in Illinois), awareness is huge. Lots of shelters, especially those in small and/or rural municipalities, have a hard time finding the time and resources to do any marketing. Doing this would get the state to do some of that work for them. The more people hear about shelter dogs and their plight, the more likely they are, when they're thinking of getting a dog, to think "I should really consider a shelter dog."
So join me, dog lovers, in writing to your legislators and asking them to push to name shelter and rescue dogs the official dogs of Illinois. If you don't know who your legislators are, click here. When you follow that link, you'll be taken to a page where you can enter your address and get a list of all your Illinois state legislator and their contact information.
Let's make this happen, folks.
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