Pet Lovers Could Decide Presidential Election

Pet Lovers Could Decide Presidential Election

Some pundits maintain that women will decide the election because they are the greatest number of undecided voters, others say instead it's all about the Latino vote; President Obama will get the majority but if his numbers are overwhelming he wins. I know what it's really about - the election will be decided by pet lovers.

Here are the real issues to consider:

* Do you vote for a dude who drives with a dog on the top of his car? 

I am not suggesting that Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney was intentionally cruel to his dog back in 1983. Though it's hard to argue that what he did was cruel – under any definition.

We know that how we treat animals reflects the soul our characters.

What strikes as most disturbing is the Presidential candidate’s response throughout the campaign to his actions.

Seamus, the Romney family Irish Setter, joined the Romney clan on a road trip. It’s hard to believe, but Romney traveled with the dog inside a carrier, which was strapped to the roof of the car, traveling at speeds averaging around 50 to 70 mph for a 12 hour road trip.

This isn’t left wing propaganda – it’s true and Romney admits it. What’s more, he continually defends what he did.  Is this an insight to what kind of President he would be?

Yes, to me, this was an unthinkable (never mind unlawful) way to travel with a dog. But even more telling of the candidate’s character are his responses to various reporters questioning.

You’d think the presidential candidate’s media aids might have suggested Romney say something like this. “That incident happened 29 years ago. I loved our dog, and today I know better - I would never consider traveling with our dog on the roof of the car today. I am sorry.”

Instead, in interviews, the candidate remained oddly adamant throughout the campaign that he did the right thing.

For example, in December of last year, he told Chris Wallace of Fox TV, “This was a completely air tight kennel mounted on the top of our car. He climbed up there regularly… We had five kids inside the car; my guess is that he liked it a lot better on there (than with the kids).”

By the way, gratefully, the kennel wasn’t airtight. If it had been Seamus wouldn’t have survived five minutes.

In an interview, conducted while in Pittsburgh,  Romney said the animal rights people aren’t happy “that my dog likes fresh air.”

No wonder, a website (and corresponding facebook page)  was set up.

* Do you vote for a President who isn't supporting our veterans?

During the third presidential debate October 22, President Barack Obama maintained that his administration was "making sure that...our veterans are getting the care that they need when it comes to post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and traumatic brain injury."

That simply is untrue. The President's statement came only weeks after the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) announced it was suspending support (equipment, veterinary care, counseling) for service dogs to be partnered with veterans returning from war with PTSD.

What's more, the VA summarily discontinued an ongoing study (which was a directive of Congress) to better understand the impact service dogs have on veterans with PTSD and their families.

It's hard to believe the President is unaware of the VA's decision. If he is personally uninformed, his administration must know.

After all, when the VA made its announcement in September, Sen. Charles Schumer (D-NY) was so affronted that he quickly held a press conference. Other members of Congress on both sides of the aisle expressed their concerns publicly.

Here's why this is such a big deal: The VA estimates that 400,000 ex-soldiers are currently being treated for PTSD, with the numbers climbing daily. The rate of divorces, substance abuse and unemployment among veterans with PTSD exceed those in the general population. Suicide rates are off the map, with 32 to 39 attempts daily (with about half as many succeeding). What's happening is tragic and may be preventable.

According to medical professionals (including many at the VA), as well as organizations that train service dogs for veterans with PTSD, vets paired with service dogs always show improvement. Suicide rates nearly disappear. Divorce and substance abuse decline.

The number of pharmaceuticals prescribed for PTSD patients is sometimes obscene, but for those who get a service dog, this changes, too.

The question this year won't be hanging chads or women or Latino's - I say, it will be pet lovers. The choice is yours - Who do you vote for?

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    Steve Dale

    Dog/Cat Behavior Consultant; pet advocate; broadcaster, journalist

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