California does get something right


I know a lot of people love to hate California, and I get it.

California has the reputation as liberal bastion full of vegans sporting man buns sipping marijuana infused wine while wearing rainbow colored no nukes T-shirts next to redwood trees while attending save the whales fundraisers.

Of course, that may only be true of a fairly small percentage of Californians, but the image persists. Just like the image some Californians have of those of us who live in the Midwest as uneducated, beef wrangling farmers who love the Bible but don’t understand the Constitution.

Wrong and wrong.

But California does get some things right, in my opinion. It is one of the world’s leading economies and a beautiful place to boot. And it has a budget surplus in the billions of dollars.

Another thing California is good at is laws governing animals. When I lived there, it made keeping animals chained up outside illegal – something that was a huge problem in some areas of the state, including the one I lived in. I believe if you want a dog just to chain it up outside you shouldn’t have one. Period.

Love it or hate it, dogs are family members these days and not just an animal to be treated poorly. I personally love it, and my wife and I happily adopt shelter and rescue dogs exclusively.

And that brings me back to California, which is the first state in the country to ban stores from selling dogs, cats and rabbits that are not rescues. That’s right – California is trying to cut puppy mills off at the knees and I applaud the effort.

I would like to see a similar law in Illinois. Why? First, our local shelters and rescues as full of dogs and cats that have been dumped, starved and generally treated poorly by people just waiting for a loving home.

Second, puppy mills can be just horrific places, where animals suffer and die needlessly. Frankly, people who mistreat animals are simply not good people. We need to make sure those types of people are not in business at all.

I know some say not all puppy mills are bad, and that may be the case. But there are plenty of legitimate breeders out there. We don’t need places that churn out animals.

Plus, there are more than enough dogs and cats in the world right now that need a good home. Go to a local shelter and see for yourself. Or check with a local rescue. My wife and I support an area rescue and the stories of abuse and neglect are enough to make you want to give up on the human race.

I wish we didn’t need laws like this, but we do. In the meantime, I encourage you to get your pets from a shelter or a rescue. These animals are fantastic and just need a chance. Our two dogs suffered terribly at the hands of people, one for a decade. Now? They are loving and wonderful family members to us.

The trust you can gain from an animal that has been abused is humbling and inspiring. Please, adopt a rescue, don’t buy a pet. It matters.