Saturday, July 2, 2022

The Journal of Steffanie Rivers: Sleeping with Fido

Steffanie Rivers
Steffanie Rivers

*They call Pittsburgh International Airport the “Twilight Zone.”

That’s where people without airline tickets can pretend it’s before 911, show up and get a free day-pass that allows them to go through security with no intentions to fly – just so they can shop. Nevermind that TSA agents have their hands full trying to keep commercial airline travel safe and need to focus on that!

At hotels nationwide, it might as well be the Twilight Zone, because you can check into a hotel with ten suitcases (secretly full of weapons and ammunition) and not be questioned about the contents. Apparently hotels have no security protocol to screen for potential snipers.

But if I want to start a pet care business and hire employees to walk the dogs of my clients I have to get certified and practically become a dog whisperer. Some states require dog walkers to have a certification (in what I’m not sure) and hold a million dollar insurance bond just in case a dog owner sues my company because, I don’t know, Fido somehow gets traumatized during the walk. I remember when dogs used to walk themselves around the neighborhood and show back up at the house without supervision, but I digress.

I asked someone who worked at a pet boarding facility about the (alleged) importance of pet certification. I was told the owner of the business where she worked preferred her employees to be so in tuned with animal nuances they might as well have been pre-med students on the veterinary track. Yes, just to walk, feed and clean up after felines and canines.

This supports my opinion that some people care more about the well-being of animals than about the well-being of other humans. I came to this conclusion not because 60% of American households have at least one pet, or because my coworkers constantly admit they share their beds with their pets. It’s not because I witness my neighbors up at the crack of dawn outside sleep walking their dogs when I’m headed to work or on pot-luck day when coworkers bring food with wisps of pet hair in it more people inquire about the breed of the pet instead of the hygiene habits of the cook that I’m convinced.

I think people care more about dogs than they do about other humans, because airlines are more likely to remove a human passenger from a flight due to a pet allergy than to re-book a pet and its owner. I believe some people care more about dogs than about black men because Michael Vick was sentenced to two years in prison for dog fighting and mistreating animals, but police who kill unarmed black men walk away without criminal charges. And if police happen to get indicted, they rarely if ever get convicted. That proves the officer who did the shooting, as well as the citizens who make up the jury, place little to no value on a black man’s life. And if that’s not bad enough, when (mostly) pro athletes use their platform to peacefully protest this issue, they’re booed by fans and called “son of a bitch” by a president who labels violent white nationalist protesters as “very fine people.”

When looking at the big picture I realize it’s a challenge to connect all the dots, but some things should be a matter of GOD given common sense. Who thought it was a good idea to allow access to firearm accessories that turn semi-automatic weapons into machine guns that can fire hundreds of bullets in one minute? Probably those gun advocates who moonlight as members of congress and are pushing easier access to silencers and armor-piercing bullets. Why would law-abiding citizens – not affiliated with the military – need access to armor-piercing bullets?

That’s a question Republican Representative Jeff Duncan of South Carolina should answer. Duncan sponsored the SHARE bill before Congress that wants make it easier for people to get armor-piercing bullets and add-on weapon accessories. The SHARE bill sounds civil enough, but the Sportsman’s Heritage and Recreational Enhancement Act, is anything but civil once you read the details of it.

Gun sellers are trying to diversify their product line since gun sales have declined. The profits of a few are put before the safety of the masses. When people get slaughtered through no fault of their own, people like Duncan are quick to offer condolences, but follow the blood money and you’ll see where it leads; back to people like him.

If we value each human life with the love and respect we want others to show us maybe people won’t need so many guns. After all, you can’t legislate what’s in someone’s heart.

In the meantime dogs and other pets are usurping the love we should have for each other. Maybe those fast food workers who want a pay increase should get certified in dog walking. They earn between $15 – $25 per hour. Yes, to walk dogs.

Steffanie is a freelance journalist living in the Dallas-Ft. Worth metroplex. Email her at to share comments, questions or for speaking inquiries.





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