Kansas’s Controversial Attempt to Make Toto the State Dog

The Kansas Legislature is currently considering whether to honor Toto from The Wizard of Oz (1939) by making the cairn terrier the official state dog. But what initially appeared as a harmless piece of state legislation has stirred up controversy in the state.

Although Rep. Ed Trimmer explained he proposed the bill to get kids interested in the legislative process, some have complained that the bill wastes the valuable time of the legislators. Still, eleven other states have passed similar bills recognizing various breeds of dogs.

The real controversy has come from an issue raised by People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA), who fear that the legislation will increase demand for cairn terriers and an increase in puppy mills that mistreat the small dogs. The debate has highlighted some other criticisms of Kansas laws that do not adequately protect animals. PETA also notes that there are a large number of dogs waiting to be adopted in animal shelters and suggests that if an official state dog is named, it should be “the humble, healthy, and 100 percent lovable all-American mutt.”

Yes, a few states have official state cats. For example, Maryland has the calico cat and Massachusetts has the tabby cat, with both states recognizing a color of cat instead of a breed. Maybe Kansas could avoid the PETA concerns by choosing a dog color.

Speaking of The Wizard of Oz, check out this funny clip from Sunday’s Academy Awards show that features a focus group evaluating the film. The clip includes members of the cast of Best in Show (2000) and A Mighty Wind (2003): Bob Balaban, Christopher Guest, Eugene Levy, Catherine O’Hara, Jennifer Coolidge, and Fred Willard.

[March 2012 State Dog Update: The bill to make Toto the State Dog of Kansas died in committee. The representative who introduced the bill noted that he will probably try again next year.]

Photo Courtesy of Mollie.

What do you think about the proposed bill to recognize Toto? Who is the Wicked Witch in this debate? Leave your two cents in the comments.

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