Being a dog lover “is a great way to win an election,” Gov. Pat Quinn said Saturday as he shook hands and paws amid 60,000 people gathered at McComick Place for the 109th annual International Kennel Club dog show.
Not wanting to let a good controversy go to waste, Quinn scheduled Saturday’s appearance with dogs and their owners after his apparent Republican rival for governor, Sen. Bill Brady, (R.-Bloomington), caught heat for introducing a bill to allow the euthanizing of several pets at one time. Brady quickly withdrew the bill after a firestorm erupted.
“As long as I am governor, we're never going to pass any kind of legislation that allows cruelty toward animals, whether it be dogs, cats or any other living things,” Quinn said to applause, barks and woofs.
Quinn spoke amid the booths of organizations that rescue abandoned pets and finds homes for them, holding the leash of a German shepherd.
“The governor has a veto pen and we're going to make sure we protect our animals from any kind of cruelty,” he said, then added, “There are some folks in our society unfortunately they have dollar signs for eyes, and that's all they think about is money. We're not going to let that kind of monetary compulsion get in the way of treating our animals in a proper, dignified, friendly manner.”
Asked if that was a direct shot at Brady and his bill, Quinn said, “That was a terrible piece of legislation and I think everybody in Illinois knows it. A bill was put in to allow a mass killing of dogs and cats in the gas chamber. Putting all those animals together . . . many of them obviously very fearful as you put them in a small, contained place, perhaps fighting with each other, for them to be subject in their last minutes on earth to that kind of cruelty, is just plain wrong . . . There may be firms out there that think they can make money by mass killings of dogs, puppies and kittens. But that’s not what our state stands for and that law will never be approved.”
Asked if he was appearing Saturday as a candidate or as governor, Quinn said, “I’m here as the governor of Illinois.”
Quinn owns a 13-year-old Yorkshire terrier named Bailey.
During the ceremony, he declared the day "Humane Pet Treatment Day" in Illinois.