On January 28, 2015

Beaglemania takes over the Statehouse

By Amy Ash Nixon, VTDigger.org

Hang on, Snoopy, some in Vermont want to make the beagle its state dog. Sen. John Rodgers, D-Essex/Orleans, has introduced S.25, which would establish that “The State Dog shall be the beagle,” effective July 1.

If passed, the bill would put Vermont in a league of nearly a dozen other states that already have canine bragging rights: Maryland was the first to name a state dog, the Chesapeake Bay retriever, in 1964.

The bill was read Tuesday morning and introduced before the Senate, Rodgers said in a telephone interview later in the day.

Besides getting some pretty intense ribbing from his fellow senators over introducing what’s already being called “The Beagle Bill,” Rodgers said he was a hot topic among reporters, too.

The origin of the bill came from his Northeast Kingdom neighbors, he said.

“I have a bunch of constituents who are avid hunters and beagle owners and they are part of a much larger statewide group who do the same, and someone in that group came up with the idea. They love their beagles, and they would like to see it be the state dog,” Rodgers said.

Rodgers said he received a petition with more than 200 signatures on it, from people all over Vermont who support the idea.

Rodgers does not have beagles, but his family raised them and hunted with them when he was young. He has a black lab named Molly now, he said, and sponsoring “The Beagle Bill,” is not making him feel any pressure to get another beagle.

Rodgers said Lt. Gov. Phil Scott laughed when the bill was read and other senators were somewhat bewildered.

“Most of them were sort of shaking their heads … really … the beagle? Those yappy little things?” Rodgers said. “It’s been a source of amusement if nothing else.”

Illustration by Maxx Steinmetz

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