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Sarah Palin: The ?pit bull? kisses animal welfare "buh-bye"

Posted Sep 07 2008 8:38pm

The former mayor of Wasilla, Alaska has more on her animal welfare record than hailing from the town where the Iditarod makes its annual start. However you feel about this famous sled-dog race, its potential welfare issues pale in comparison to the sport of aerial hunting and the opposition to endangered designations for needy species.

Though it won’t necessarily drive my vote, knowing how my fellow Americans and Presidential ticket candidates take on issues of animal concern is important to me. But there’s not much in our two top candidates’ voting records to go on—beyond the wider issues of environmental policy and a comparison of their pet-keeping records. (For me, Obama wins on the former issue while McCain beats him soundly on the latter.)

That’s why I was impressed to hear of Republican VP candidate Sarah Palin’s record on animal welfare. Sure, she’s the governor of Alaska and that’s almost always a negative when it comes to environmental policy in general, but this goes even deeper.

Nope, it’s not just the pit bull joke that rankled me (where she likened hockey moms to pit bulls with lipstick), though the comment stuck in my craw for her obvious insensitivity to the need to obliterate this butt-kicking image of pit bulls. It’s also her opposition to the endangered status of polar bear and beluga whales, the latter as a direct response to how this designation would affect her state’s oil industry.

And then there’s the aerial hunting thing…

Aerial hunting is a sport where animals (in Alaska, usually wolves and bears) are chased via helicopter and killed with guns. Though this technique is often used to cull animals out of an arguably environmentally sound need to control populations, the Alaskan interior doesn’t exactly qualify as a location where population control is an overriding issue.

Alaska is vast and as close to pristine as the Earth can muster, so populations of wild animals here are fairly independent of human intervention and subsequent population imbalances. There is no environmentally sound rationale behind killing animals in this way, even if “culling” via helicopter could ever be said to merit the term “sound.”

Governor Palin embraces this gruesome sport so fully, as governor she even offered a $150 bounty for each wolf forelimb brought before her. How Caesaresque! The barbaric image of her medieval nod to this bloodsport won’t soon fade for me. I just can’t square this with her “right to life” persona and beauty queen presentation.

I can only imagine what she'd do to a pit bull if she ever caught one. Oh, right, she'd probably trap it...or, more likely, she'd let someone else do the dirty work.

How about you? Does knowing “too much” about a candidate’s animal welfare record affect how you’ll vote?
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