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Friday, August 1, 2014

Sorry, Toto – Kansas won’t get a state dog this year

By Beccy Tanner
The Wichita Eagle

Better luck next time, Toto.

A proposal to name the cairn terrier – the breed that played Toto in “The Wizard of Oz” – the official state dog has fizzled.

The House Standing Committee on Agriculture and Natural Resources declined to hear House Bill 251, effectively killing the bill for the current session. State Rep. Ed Trimmer, D-Winfield, who introduced the bill, said he plans on re-introducing it again next year.

“That’s what we will probably do,” Trimmer said Monday.

“We had great responses from kids. And, I think this will give me a chance to go into the classrooms and visit with them, let them know this is part of the learning process and sometimes when you ask the first time, and the answer is no, you have to learn how to ask again. If it is something you want, you have to be persistent.”

He said he hopes more school children and their classes will become involved in the project. After all, it was Kansas school children who helped name the state reptile (the ornate box turtle), the state bird (the Western meadowlark), the state insect (the honeybee) and the state amphibian (the barred tiger salamander).

When the state dog proposal was first announced in late January, stories appeared in numerous newspapers including the New York Times, major blogs such as the Huffington Post, television networks and NPR.

PETA, People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, also weighed in, saying it opposed to the action, fearing it would add to Kansas’ puppy mill problems.

Brenda Moore, obedience chairwoman with the South Central Kansas Kennel Club, originally contacted Trimmer about the proposal. She said she plans to conduct a statewide campaign this summer to help raise awareness for a state dog.

“I intend to pick this up,” Moore said.

“I don’t think PETA made a dent in what we are doing. I just think it had more to do that this is an election year.”

She said she wants to create a petition drive and collect signatures from Kansans to present to state politicians; she also wants to raise awareness for existing state laws that have created stiffer penalties for puppy mill operations.

“Over the last six years, we have cleaned up a lot of the nasty people,” Moore said. “Most of the breeders are on the up and up.

“We want people to know that dog breeders are responsible people and that if we do get a state dog, we will not capitalize on it. I don’t think Kansas should be labeled a puppy mill state anymore.

“There are a lot of dog lovers out there who would like to see Kansas have a state dog.”

Reach Beccy Tanner at 316-268-6336 or btanner@wichitaeagle.com.

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