Let hearts, not politics, make the call

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, March 3, 2010

The men and women in the Mississippi Legislature haven’t met my Suzy.

They haven’t seen her cower when I reach to take a book off a shelf. They can’t predict her reaction to a limp fly swatter.

If they knew sweet Suzy, they’d change their minds.

But Suzy has taken to county living, long naps in the afternoon and soft rubs in the evening.

She remembers her past, we know, but she’s a dog, not an activist, and visiting the state Capitol simply isn’t on her agenda.

She’s not a lobbyist or even a grieving mother who can tell her tale with emotion to the lawmakers of our great state.

Suzy knows only to be thankful for her present state of being.

Other dogs and cats will have to fend for themselves.

And apparently those Jackson lawmakers feel the same way.

Year after year a small group of legislators has proposed a bill that would make animal cruelty a felony, not a misdemeanor able to be dismissed with a mere fine.

Natchez’s own Sen. Bob Dearing has, thankfully, always be involved in the fight.

But time and again the bill fails to get the needed support.

This year, the Senate passed such a bill with only one no vote. The bill moved on to the House where it sat before the Agriculture and Judiciary B committees.

The committees had to take action on the bill by the close of session Tuesday in order for it to survive. The agriculture committee didn’t even meet Tuesday. The bill died again.

Suzy will sleep well tonight. She has a fluffy, soft bed in the living room, the bedroom and a spare bedroom. She likes to move about and choose her resting site at will, and her owners have accommodated.

Our 8- or 9-year-old shelter dog likes to sleep — a lot. We think she mostly dreams about chasing squirrels in the backyard, but sometimes I’ve wondered if the dreams weren’t really nightmares.

All I know about her past I’ve learned from her personality and a 10-minute conversation with the workers at the Natchez-Adams County Humane Society.

She was dropped off at the shelter more than six years ago, pregnant.

She’s terribly gun shy; in fact if you snap your fingers too loudly you’ll scare her.

She doesn’t like strange men.

And she’s obviously been hit. A lot.

But Suzy’s life is good — even great — now. Her biggest challenge is sneaking her way onto the couch and trying to trick us into giving her bacon.

She’s a lucky one.

The dog tied to a tree and burned on Chinquapin Drive last year, the Chihuahua shot in the head in the Montebello area and Sox the cat shot and left to die weren’t as lucky as my Suzy.

Politics is a nasty game, but common sense and a little heart have to win out sometimes.

Powerful lobbyists with farm interests — worried that skinny cows could mean prosecution — have called the shots for too long on this issue.

But it’s not an issue about cows or even horses. Proposed legislation now mentions only dogs and cats, pets.

It’s too late for this bill, but caring legislators can try again next year. Until then voters like you and me must give a voice to Suzy and all her friends.

Julie Cooper is the managing editor of The Natchez Democrat. She can be reached at 601-445-3551 or julie.cooper@natchezdemocrat.com.