Small Meeting — Big Result
Two County Commissioners, Vaughn Hartung and Marsha Berkbigler told PMFR activists in separate meetings they were inclined to take advice on the matter of a preventative ban in Washoe County from the Animal Services Advisory Board.
Due to Reno’s impending ban, which 1st reading could happen as early as late March, PMFR would like to see moratoria in local areas preventing stores from popping up outside Reno before bans might be implemented in outlying areas.
PMFR requested a special meeting to discuss this issue with Washoe County Regional Animal Services Advisory Board Chair, Reno City Council Vice Mayor Naomi Duerr, who called the special meeting for Thursday, February 27.
PMFR Founding Organizer Billy Howard was granted 10 minutes to present the issue to the board, composed of local council and commission members, a veterinarian, a member of a local non-profit shelter and members at large.
Mr. Howard then introduced former Puppies Plus employee, Hanna Ratliff, who spoke from the heart about the more than a dozen dogs that died in her arms while working at the store and abhorrent management policy. Few eyes were dry by the time she finished.
“The City of Sparks welcomes a puppy (mill) store with open arms!”Council Member Charlene Bybee, County Commission public comment, Nov/Dec 2015.
With one exception, Sparks anti-animal rights/Libertarian activist Charlene Bybee, who once quipped “Sparks welcomes a puppy store with open arms!” at a County Commission meeting in 2015 and proved good on their word with the Schneider’s opening a Sparks store 6 months later, the disgraced puppy mill store Puppies Plus’ sister store, Puppy Love.
Ms. Bybee’s seemingly heartless speech after hearing a devastating testimonial from an eye witness, largely fell on deaf ears. Both Sparks Council members in the room parroted the same vapid talking point,
Sparks doesn’t want anyone telling us what to do!Sparks Council members Charlene Bybee and Paul Anderson
An adolescent approach to democracy at best.
As an elected official, you have the vote, so of course no one’s telling you what to do. You get to decide for yourselves, that’s why we, your constituents, elected you: to help make decisions.
You can’t do that if you don’t listen to all sides.Billy Howard, Founding Organizer, PMFR/S/W/C/D
To block out an enormous constituency with 20,000 local signatures and tremendous community support, seems to comes down to:
You know we would overwhelm you with FACTS that you don’t seem to want to hear because it just might lead you to do the right thing.
For some activists, who don’t want to budge from a position—tortured and dead dogs be damned—that churlish and adamant positioning could find constituents looking for better leadership when voting time comes around.
But no matter, each Advisory Board member discussed their position cogently, addressed that no one was trying to tell anyone what to do but act in their capacity as an advisory board, and the final vote was taken 5:1 in favor.
- Naomi Duerr, Chair (Reno City Council
- Annette Rink, Vice Chair (Veterinarian)
- Kitty Jung (County Commission)
- Jill Dobbs (SPCA Northern NV)
- Irene Payne (at large)
- Al Green (at large)
You guessed it:
- Paul “No-One’s-Gonna-Tell-Sparks-What-To-Do” Anderson (Sparks City Council)
Members of the public who spoke included a man who harkened back to 1950’s thinking. In an unusual tack for this day-in-age, he extolled a nearly sociopathic stance that bought-and-paid-for animals were owned possessions and served naught bur their master’s pleasure.
Happy to say the thoughtful Board addressed, redressed and dressed down that archaic and frightening position. Check around for enormous amounts of dead squirrel heads in Cold Springs. That kind of backwoods thinking leads to animal maiming, torture and dismemberment. Which leads to human abuse and even murder.
After the meeting, outnumbered and outflanked by people more compassionate than himself, with facilitation from Chair Duerr, Mr. Anderson admitted that the reason only 1 Sparks council member, Donald Abbott, responded to our many emails, telephone calls and appearances in public meetings asking for meetings, was, once again, it sounded to us like you were trying to tell us what to do. And he agreed, finally, to meet.
I cannot help but just be infuriated by this stance that flouts democracy in the face.
You were voted in by a constituency. We hired you to represent all of us. Why on earth anyone would say in an elected capacity we don’t even want to hear what you have to say is beyond the pale. I can’t help but say, after having been an activist in many cities across the country, this is the first time I’ve come across this kind of obfuscation. I grew up in Silicon Valley and was a programmer by the time I was 22. I was able to travel and live in many cities in the United States doing my work on my computer wherever I went. I’ve lived in Sacramento, Los Angeles, San Diego, Santa Barbara, Santa Cruz, Saint Paul Minnesota, and New York City during and post 911. I have always been locally active on a range of issues from childhood with an human rights activist parent. I even addressed Mayor Bloomberg over an issue concerning smoking in restaurants in New York, which passed, thankfully.
All this to say, that Sparks has refused to meet with a constituency over which we are just asking to be heard and hopefully have some debate on the dais over the issue, is, in the end, absolutely mind-boggling.
We hope that the signal from Anderson for a meeting shows we may make some inroads on this finally. We understand that we might not convince elected officials of our case, we just want the opportunity to present it in this best of all possible democracies.