Today the Dragon Wins

"Today the Dragon Wins" offers information from Fantasy Author and Professional Editor Sandy Lender. You'll also find dragons, wizards, sorcerers, and other fantasy elements necessary for a fabulous story, if you know where to look...

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Sandy Lender is the editor of an international trade publication and the author of the fantasy novels Choices Meant for Gods and Choices Meant for Kings, available from ArcheBooks Publishing, and the series-supporting chapbook, What Choices We Made.

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Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Writing to Our Representatives on Earth Day
Or…The Dragon thinks we should protect our pets and civil liberties from HR669 this Earth Day

(I’ll just warn you now—this one’s a long one and it'll rile you up.)

At an Earth Day Festival in Kansas City several years ago, a vendor pointed at my t-shirt and said, “Turtle Island? Where’s that?” I responded, “You’re standing on it. Our earth belongs to the turtles.” He could dig that. We chatted a while and, for some reason, he asked what year I was born. I’ll share because I don’t think it’s a big deal. 1970. He was elated and told me that was the year of the first Earth Day.

I felt honored.

I’m not the most devoted environmentalist you’ll find. I use too much hair spray now that my hair is growing back in. (I’m not saying that a hole is opening in the ozone layer directly above Southwest Florida because of me; but, trust me, my hair spray consumption has increased now that I actually have hair to tame into place.) And I have those days when I take long showers (we fantasy authors have stress, you know) even though I know I should conserve water. But I always always always turn the water off while I brush my teeth. I’m not totally irresponsible. :)

The one environmentalist bent I go nuts over is the sea turtles. I have this insane love for the sea turtles. It started because my family adopted a fresh-water turtle when I was a teenager in Missouri. My love of the shelled reptiles started then and I’ve been interested in all manner of turtle and habitat conservation since.

A couple summers ago, during nesting patrol for Turtle Time, I got to rescue a baby sea turtle who had strayed far away from his nest—and the gulf waters—due to light disorientation. I have the sea turtle conservation license plate. Thursday of last week, I took a personal day from work so I could drive up to Port Charlotte to attend this year’s sea turtle seminar in preparation for nesting patrols. I only buy ice cream from Turtle Mountain (look for the Purely Decadent brand in the organic/healthy section of the dairy case) because they provide funds to the Sea Turtle Restoration Project (STRP). When my first fantasy novel Choices Meant for Gods was released, I ordered a ton of canvas bags (as opposed to evil plastic bags) with the book cover for promotional efforts because I wanted to hand out an environmentally responsible item that wouldn’t end up in our ocean/gulf waters where sea turtles would mistake it for a yummy jelly fish meal. I even have a baby sea turtle flitting away to freedom, juxtaposed against the female lead in Enara’s Choice in the chapbook What Choices We Made. I just adore these precious creatures and feel overwhelmed by the task before the sea turtle conservationists fighting to protect them.

But today is Earth Day, and there are threatened and endangered species all over the globe who deserve remembrance. Not only are sea turtles finding fewer nesting beaches and increased international fishery trawlers, but polar bears are crashing through thinning ice, 11-day-old harp seals are being clubbed to death or skinned alive so someone can have a fancy hat, fish are bumping into destructive species that were introduced by well-meaning but short-sighted wildlife management officials, and the list goes on.

Now, I would like you to notice that I mentioned “destructive species introduction” in that last paragraph. There are entities in the U.S. government that have tried controlling wild populations by introducing nonnative species to U.S. ecosystems. These experiments have not always gone well. People neglecting to check cargo on island-bound planes also allowed nonnative species to sneak into unsuspecting ecosystems. (Do a google search for “invasive species” and Guam. Holy cow.) In answer to this man-made problem, a representative has introduced a bill in the House of Representatives—H.R. 669—that is, on the surface, meant to keep us from compounding the problems that started by accident.

H.R. 669, The Nonnative Wildlife Invasion Prevention Act, does a bit more. It is designed, among other things, to allow a government entity to make a list of what pets U.S. citizens are not allowed to keep. I think the premise is designed to prevent the few irresponsible pet owners from releasing nonnative animals into sensitive U.S. ecosystems. I’m not sure if this would stem the tide of Burmese Pythons encroaching on alligator feeding grounds in the Everglades or of feral cats eating pretty songbirds all over the country or not. Two things I am sure about with this bill: It stomps on our civil liberties and it results in animal deaths.

Under H.R. 669, if an animal is not native to the United States, it won’t be allowed (unless it's a cow or some type of domesticated livestock used in farming). If you already own a nonnative animal, such as a parrot, a lizard, a gerbil, a guinea pig, a hamster, etc., you may keep the animal, but you will not be allowed to breed it with another animal and you will not be allowed to carry it across state lines. My lovely Petri is a sun conure, and, although his parents and grandparents were bred here in the United States, his species is originally from South America, thus he is considered nonnative. Under H.R. 669, a person will not be allowed to transfer her pet's ownership to another individual. So if my employer (headquartered in another state) were to order me to move to that state as a condition of my continued employment, I could not give (or sell) my companion parrot before moving. In the event of a career change or family emergency, a person will not be "allowed" to give away their bird or tortoise or child's hamster to a family friend before leaving it behind in an interstate move.

The pet has to be “destroyed”. “Destroyed” is a polite word for “murdered”.

If H.R. 669 is passed, the U.S. government will dictate which animals U.S. citizens are allowed to keep as pets/family members, and will dictate when you have to kill them. (Unless you already have all the pets you want and are living in the state where you intend to retire and die. And I guess your pet dies with you if you can’t transfer ownership to anyone upon your death…)

What a sad thing to contemplate on Earth Day. Our representatives in the House of Representatives are supposed to start discussing this bill tomorrow, the 23rd. I’ve already sent letters to my representatives stating that I’d like them to speak against this bill. While I like the idea of preventing nonnative species from establishing populations in the wild in the United States, I think the way to control that is not by destroying the pet industry and killing people’s pets, but by finding better ways to keep the small percentage of irresponsible owners from releasing their pets and by keeping wildlife officials from doing any more “creative species control”.

I think Earth Day should be a day where we come up with good, positive, creative ways to protect and conserve life; not to kill the animals that responsible owners love and care for. I think Earth Day is a great day to tell a representative that H.R. 669 is a bad idea. If you would like to contact your representatives, but aren’t sure of their names or e-mail addresses, visit this site for quick-and-easy access. Remember, HR669 is The Nonnative Wildlife Invasion Prevention Act and it will put limits on pet ownership, will gut the pet industry, but, most importantly, will endanger animals’ lives.

“Some days, I just want the dragon to win.”
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Blogger Deb Hockenberry said...

This is terrible! Keep up the good work! Are you a turtle lady? I read an adult fiction many years ago that brought the risks of the sea turtle to my attention. I truly admired these ordinary residents & how they checked the nests of sea turtles (counting their eggs, looking out for poachers, etc.). If I lived in the south I'd be doing that for sure! Keep up the good fight! The animals need all the help they can get.
Deb :-)

3:42 PM  
Blogger Nigel said...

Hi, Deb!
Sandy is a turtle lady. :)
You can check out the group she volunteers with at They're on PBS.

Thank you for stopping by the blog!
Nigel Taiman

4:09 PM  
Blogger Sandy Lender said...

In fabulous heresy and rumor, a friend of mine has checked in via e-mail. For anonymity purposes (which will become clear in his message), we’ll call him “Jay”, and we’ll say he works for Rental Car Company “Kay”. I’ve removed other identifying information from his note.

“Hey. I actually waited on (a guy who works in the Senate in Wash DC and asked him if he had heard about this bill. Well he said he has, and it is kind of a joke. No one thinks it will pass at all. He said that someone is just trying to start something, but everyone thinks it will not go any further than just being discussed, and then swept away.
“Don't know if that makes you feel better, but did for me! Since I have more exotics than you do, and I still plan on moving to Texas.”
Woo-hoo. Now, I don’t know how great Ms. Madeleine Bordallo from Guam would feel hearing that her suggestion is viewed as a “joke”, but I certainly DO feel better (and, yes, we let people from Guam sponsor bills in our government—Bordallo has sponsored 33, 26 of which have failed to get out of committee, 1 of which has been enacted).

There have to be better ways to prevent nonnative species from getting into the United States and threatening the humans and habitat currently established here…like blocking the spending of $20.3 million by “presidential determination” to assist Palestinian refugees to move here when Syria, Saudi Arabia, Egypt and Jordan have turned them away. (Look it up…) I know some recently unemployed, born-here Americans who could have used that $20.3 million to pay health insurance premiums for their children. (And I could probably throw another current event into this post/comment series if I just tried harder…bwuahahahaha)

Sandy Lender
"Some days, I just want the dragon to win."

7:59 AM  
Blogger Jane Kennedy Sutton said...

Is there something in the air in Washington and Tallahassee that makes our lawmakers go brain dead? This crazy bill, along with drilling for oil close to our beaches, and allowing insurance companies to come in and charge anything they want for a policy – kind of makes me just want to give up!

Jane Kennedy Sutton

10:38 AM  
Blogger Sandy Lender said...

I think it's something inherent in the politician brain. I was married to someone...well...I shall now be kind.

As far as the insurance stuff goes, I received a letter from my health insurer stating my premium was increasing the day after I heard from my employer that all of our salaries were being cut 10% until November. Sigh. Here's the thing: I was expecting the health insurance premium to rise. I mean, you don't go through a major illness without being penalized in some fashion. The salary cut was a surprise. But it's saving someone from losing a job, so I'll take it and I'll say "thank you." I'd rather tighten my belt than see a co-worker thrown out in this marketplace right now. And I'm thankful that I work for a company that's willing to figure a way to save somebody's job...

It's not worth giving up yet!! You have a book to promote!!

Sandy Lender
"Some days, I just want the dragon to win."

11:53 AM  
Blogger Nigel said...


I sincerely apologize for yelling, but Sandy insisted I do something to get everyone's attention. I imagine she'll post something next week when she has an update. In the meantime, she has a site you can visit at that gives a marvelous breakdown of different facets of the bill that Sandy did not go into in her Earth Day post. (What's that, dear?) She says she had enough subjects in her post that day.

Anyway, HR669 is still in the House (whatever that means - your government is far too convoluted for me) and will be discussed for another few days thanks to Ms. Bordallo's urging. Why again does a delegate from some island that's not one of your 50 states get to dictate...oh, Sandy tells me to just leave that alone or she'll get all riled up.

We invite you once again to contact your representatives through the link in Sandy's original post to be sure they know that you think this bill is a bad idea.

All my best to you,
Nigel Taimain

12:42 PM  

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