A Letter to Cudahy, Wisconsin Mayor and Common Council on Independence Day
July 4, 2008
RESPONSIBLE DOG OWNERS OF THE WESTERN STATES
P.O. Box 1406 Newport, WA 99156
Web Site http://www.povn.com/rdows E-mail US firstname.lastname@example.org
Blog https://rdows.wordpress.com E-mail List http://groups.yahoo.com/group/rdows
Cherie Graves, Chairwoman, WA, (509) 447-2821
Judy Schreiber, Assistant to the Chair,
Director at Large, email@example.com
Elizabeth Pensgard, Executive Secretary, Illinois Director, firstname.lastname@example.org
Hermine Stover, Media Liaison, Director at Large, CA, email@example.com
Mary Schaeffer, Finance Director, firstname.lastname@example.org
Arizona Director, John Bowen, email@example.com
California Director, Jan Dykema, firstname.lastname@example.org
Indiana Director, Charles Coffman, email@example.com
Iowa Director, Leisa Boysen, firstname.lastname@example.org
Mississippi Director, Dan Crutchfield, email@example.com
Nevada Director, Ken Sondej, firstname.lastname@example.org
Tennessee Director, Gina Cotton, email@example.com
Texas Director, Alvin Crow, firstname.lastname@example.org
July 4, 2008
The Honorable Ryan McCue, Mayor
Alderman Joseph Mikolajczak, First District
Alderwoman Mary Schissel, Second District
Alderman Mark Otto, Third District
Alderman Sean Smith, Fourth District
Alderman Thomas Pavlic, Fifth District
Dear Mayor McCue and Esteemed Members of the Cudahy Common Council:
I waited until today, July the 4th, to write to all of you because it is a day of solemnity when we pause and take stock of where this nation has been and where it is going.
Certainly you are familiar with President Abraham Lincoln’s address at the dedication of the Gettysburg National Cemetery. Everyone knows the “Four score and seven years ago” part, but the lesser-known portions of that address are perhaps more poignant on Independence Day. Not only did Mr. Lincoln say that our nation was conceived in liberty, dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal (which was not a given at the time of his address despite the Declaration of Independence), but that,
“It is for us the living…to be dedicated here to the unfinished work which they who fought here have thus far so nobly advanced. It is rather for us to be here dedicated to the great task remaining before us–that from these honored dead we take increased devotion to that cause for which they gave the last full measure of devotion; that we here highly resolve that these dead shall not have died in vain; that this nation, under God, shall have a new birth of freedom; and that government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth.”
It would not be until almost 5 years later that the 14th amendment would be ratified which declared in part that no state should,
“deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws.”
The 14th amendment was an echo of the Declaration of Independence which held that the rights to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness were self-evident truths and unalienable rights (meaning rights that are not severable or transferable).
My purpose in writing you today is to demonstrate how these rights came about and to remind you how it is that they are negated by breed-specific ordinances and breed bans. Banning a breed of dog, or breed-specific legislation in any form, is a negation of the 14th amendment (of property rights, and the rights to due process and equal protection); the very rights for which good men and women fought and died and are fighting and dying as I write this letter.
Over the many years that Responsible Dog Owners of the Western States (RDOWS) has been lobbying against breed-specific legislation and other adverse animal legislation, we have occasionally been scorned for the work that we do. At times detractors have inquired if there might be a better use of our time. We have always responded that there is no better use of our time, our talents, our energy, and our will, than to lobby for the upholding of our Constitution; the very foundation of our life, liberty, and happiness in this great nation.
We have several veterans that belong to RDOWS, and they are ever in our minds as we write to elected officials and lobby for or against certain legislation. One veteran in particular said to me a while ago that what he was currently witnessing in this country — the constant and steady erosion of our constitutional rights — brought tears to his eyes. He was heartbroken to see that the rights and freedoms for which he had risked his life could so swiftly and easily be eroded or outright negated by the passing of just one bill or ordinance.
Likewise, a couple of months ago, I was given a sobering reminder of why it is that our group lobbies so hard against rights-negating legislation when a World War II veteran was helped with great difficulty to the podium at my home town’s city council meeting. This gentleman gave a rousing oration which recounted his service during the war — the enemy fire he had come under, the friends he had lost who were fighting beside him one minute and were gone the next — in an attempt to petition the council for a World War II veterans’ memorial. Those words would prove to be the last few he would ever utter. He died shortly thereafter. His speech took all the energy he had left in his body, which means that to his very last, he was still fighting for his country and his countrymen. Most veterans will tell you that the war didn’t end simply because they came home. If they were lucky enough not to bear the wounds of war on their bodies, they are almost certainly scarred with the memory of war; those they loved and lost and the atrocities they witnessed. They will also be the first to tell you that freedom comes with an unfathomable price, because freedom is certainly not free.
This Fourth of July, we ask you to remember the rights and freedoms on which this nation was founded and the great men and women — like the veterans I just described — who fought and died, and who continue to fight and die, to defend those rights. We ask you to remember the Declaration of Independence, the words of President Lincoln at Gettysburg, and the civil rights, like the 14th amendment, that were the result of the loss of many thousands of American lives. We ask you to remember that our nation was conceived in liberty and founded on the principle that all men and women are endowed by their Creator with the unalienable rights to life, liberty, property, due process, and equal protection. And we ask you to keep these things in mind on July 9 as you consider whether to pass a breed-specific ordinance or not. On that day, we hope that you will uphold the Constitution, as you were sworn to do, and oppose any attempt to negate fundamental civil rights via any breed-specific provision.
Thank you very much for your time and consideration. We wish for you and your families a happy and safe Independence Day.
Executive Secretary and Illinois Director, Responsible Dog Owners of
the Western States
Director, Responsible Dog Owners Group of Illinois