The only thing missing from the St. Joseph City Council’s animal control work session was the sound of Sarah McLachlan singing softly in the background.
You know those commercials, that ones that show dogs and cats with bandages and mournful faces while the singer intones, “I will be there for you.”
Quick, turn the channel. We can’t take it anymore! Brian Myers, we assume, can’t either.
An ability to love and care for animals reflects strongly on a person’s overall character. Myers, the city councilman who once went on the News-Press NOW morning show and offered to pay the fees for anyone who adopted the pet of the week, passes this test in spades. Even Richard Nixon, early in his political career, referenced a cocker spaniel named Checkers to get out of political hot water involving the acceptance of personal gifts.
But let’s be careful here. A soft heart or a love of animals doesn’t always equate to sensible public policy. Just look how it all ended for Nixon.
Myers called the council work session after a video surfaced that appeared to show several dogs killing a puppy in one St. Joseph neighborhood. This video was shared enough that it earned “viral” status, as if that modifier automatically confers greater news value or need for investigation.
The work session was described as an opportunity to review animal control laws in the wake of the video. What ensued was absolutely cringe-worthy.
The city’s animal control officials said the video prompted exaggerated reports online. The dogs may have attacked an animal that was already dead. The crowd that gathered at the scene became emotional and threw cinder blocks, which may have inflamed the pack of dogs.
Myers took issue with the dogs’ owner getting a light punishment for licensing violations, but then the councilman acknowledges he doesn’t have all the facts. Maybe some of that compassion for our four-legged friends should extend to the human species.
There was even a call to do something about feral cats, which weren’t involved in the dead puppy attack, but they might lurk insidiously in the background, like Ukraine.
At some point, there was talk of limits to the number of dogs or cats a person can have in the city. This could have an impact on animal welfare, but there was no consensus on this issue.
We’re left with no idea what, if anything, the city needs to do to bolster animal welfare. The only takeaway might be that an online video inflames passions, but it shouldn’t serve as a basis for broader council action.
Our advice is to go home, pet your dogs and cats and maybe cue up a little Sarah McLachlan on the CD player. We just can’t take it anymore.