BOISE – Idaho lawmakers have voted down a bill to declare the blue heeler the official state dog.
State Rep. JoAn Wood, R-Rigby, proposed the bill, but the House State Affairs Committee on Monday rejected it on an 8-11 vote.
“I’m bringing to you a piece of legislation this family had brought to me and have asked for several years that we take a look at,” Wood told the panel, introducing a constituent, Elise Fake, who gave an impassioned pitch for the blue heeler. Fake noted its merits included that “the blue heeler is a common fixture of Idaho ranches, where it is said that one such dog will do the work of three cowhands.”
Legislators’ opposition to the proposed bill ranged from not wanting to discriminate against other breeds (state Rep. Lynn Luker, R-Boise) to sheep ranchers’ dislike of blue heelers (state Rep. Ken Andrus, R-Lava Hot Springs).
Said Andrus, “I’ve lost thousands and thousands of dollars” from dogs attacking sheep. “German shepherds and black labs and blue heelers are the worst,” Andrus said. “So I would certainly not like to enthrone the blue heeler as the state dog. If we want to have a state dog, I would think we ought to have some nice gentle dog like Lassie.”
State Rep. Eric Anderson, R-Priest Lake, said blue heelers are the national dog of New Zealand and Australia, and urged the committee to hold a full hearing on the bill, calling the blue heeler “an amazing dog,” but adding, “I’m biased also because we have one.”
The vote meant the bill won’t even be introduced, so no hearing will be held.