He told me I should immediately go to Rep. Tom Lantos' office: "Rep. Lantos is the number-one pet guy in the House." The Lantos people were working on legislation to require that in the event of a forced evacuation like that of Hurricane Katrina, the government must have in place a rescue plan for pets. "Do you have a legislative arm?" at SNOP, he asked me. Now it was my turn to laugh. Even though I didn't, he said I could work with Lantos' people to incorporate my legislation early into his bill. That way it would be very hard to strip out later.
I couldn't wait to finish my last appointment—at Rep. Van Hollen's office—so I could contact the Lantos people and actually get some action on SNOP.
When I made my appointment with Van Hollen's legislative person, though he was impeccably polite, I could tell he thought meeting with SNOP was a waste of time. He came to greet me in the reception area and said we could conduct our meeting right there. Unlike everyone else I met, Van Hollen's guy was not young and sleek and gelled. He looked to be in his late 40s, rumpled and bearded, wearing casual-Friday jeans and sneakers. He had the air of someone who has listened to the ideas of more than his share of constituent nuts.
He mentioned he had a daughter, so I gave him an extra puppy to take home to her. Then I started on my now-polished pitch. I barely got it out when he interrupted to tell me there was a serious problem with my organization's goal: It was unconstitutional.
"I don't think there's a national legislative fix for this," he said. He said laws to spay and neuter animals were a matter for the states. For one thing, I had no enforcement mechanism for states that refused to comply. "A lot of people want the congressman to introduce things," he said. "A lot of [those] things are not federal issues."
OK, so there was a technical glitch about the Constitution. I quickly tried to recover, mentioning the congressman's support for bowel issues and asking if I could get something like that—a bill asking for more funding for spay and neuter research. Or how about a national spay-and-neuter month?
He said groups like such recognition because it helps with advertising and fund raising. But for me to do that, he said, while waving my SNOP leave-behind, "This has to become a viable organization." But why start my own group, he asked—why not just work with one of the existing animal-welfare organizations? Then he stood up and said he had another meeting. Maybe he could see in my eyes that he had just euthanized SNOP and my career as a lobbyist was over. Maybe he didn't want to leave me bereft. He smiled, held up a puppy, and said, "I like the Band-Aid. That's a nice touch."
TODAY IN SLATE
More Than Scottish Pride
What Charles Barkley Gets Wrong About Corporal Punishment and Black Culture
Why Greenland’s “Dark Snow” Should Worry You
Three Talented Actresses in Three Terrible New Shows
The Human Need to Find Connections in Everything
It’s the source of creativity and delusions. It can harm us more than it helps us.
Happy Constitution Day!
Too bad it’s almost certainly unconstitutional.