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In the opening minutes of this morning’s meeting of the finance and license committees, Suarez, alderman of the 31st Ward, scowled as he looked over a copy of the ordinance. Suarez asked finance committee chairman Ed Burke to clarify something--didn't the previous version of the proposal, which was discussed and tabled last summer, require “mandatory sterilization”? And doesn't this one say that “no person shall own, harbor, or keep within the City of Chicago a dog or cat over six months in age which has not been sterilized”? Well what's the difference?
“You’re playing with words here,” Suarez said. “With English.”
Burke shrugged it off.
A few minutes later Suarez glanced at the audience that had packed the gallery and was moved to share some insights on the meaning of liberty. “These people here today, they believe they’re doing good, but they’re violating people’s rights,” Suarez proclaimed. “You’re telling me the government should tell people how to own a dog.”
On the witness stand was a vet from California who favored the measure; he discussed how a similar one had already been implemented in Los Angeles. He told Suarez the ordinance was simply a tool to help people take responsibility for their pets and to reduce the number of uncared for, dangerous strays.
This prompted Suarez to remind everyone in the room that there are, and should be, limits to the power of the government--even in Chicago. “We have plenty of ordinances on the books, but every time something happens we jump up to write new ones,” he said. “Some people think we’re going to solve all of the world’s problems if we pass a neutering law.”
The vet shook his head. “No law can solve all of our problems,” the vet said.
“Thank you,” said Suarez.
A hundred twenty-eight more witnesses were signed up to testify.