August 4, 2008

'Unsafe at Any Speed'

By winecountrydog

The little hedgehog that Sam and Zoe named "Ralph" doesn't travel very fast.

Ralph the hedgehog with Sam Naujokas and Zoe Fish-O'Brien at Copperfield's in Healdsburg
But I'm a dog who does travel fast, in a vehicle, with dog-ma as driver. That's why I waited outside Copperfield's Books in Healdsburg with other dogs while dog-ma went inside to hear Ralph Nader.

Dog buddy waiting outside Copperfield's BooksMr. Nader is the consumer advocate who took the US auto industry to task for safety defects in his 1965 book, titled Unsafe at Any Speed: The Designed-in Dangers of the American Automobile. Mr. Nader documented how resistant car manufacturers were to spending money on safety features like seat belts.

Humans — both the kind that praise Nader and the kind that don't — tell me that 'Nader' became a household name 'cuz of his consumer advocacy work. Mr. Nader, with former San Francisco Supervisor Matt Gonzalez as his running mate, is campaigning in the 2008 presidential race.

Ralph Nader at Healdsburg Copperfield's BooksIf you read about Mr. Nader's research and lobbying on auto safety, you see he helped push Congress to pass the 1966 National Traffic and Motor Vehicle Safety Act.

Among his many other efforts, he lobbied for passage of the 1967 Wholesome Meat Act, which called for federal inspections of beef and poultry, and imposed standards on slaughterhouses.

Dog-ma and I aren't partisan — I'm a Humane voter without a party. We are consumer advocates for safe car travel, especially for pets. I wear a canine seat belt harness when I travel.

You've heard me bark about my Ruff Rider seatbelt? You'll hear me bark about it again. Dog-ma chose this canine vehicle restraint system for me some years back after researching canine and human seatbelt mechanics.

A lot of human guardian/owners don't like the idea of seatbelts 'cuz they seem to represent a constraint on purrsonal freedom. Well, sometimes we have to think about freedom on other levels. For example, there's the civic freedom that Mr. Nader talks about.

And there's the freedom to choose to protect ourselves from being smushed in a speeding car that has to hit the brakes!

I sound pawlitical on the subject of seatbelts. Oh howl, then I am. What else can a concerned dog do? As Mr. Nader says, "if you don't turn on to politics, politics is going to turn on you." He's right about that.

You've got to get involved and vote for what you care about, even if you're a dog who doesn't get an official ballot.

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