Fabiola Santiago

Looks like Republicans finally grew a heart. But not for our kids — for our dogs.

A service dog named Orlando rests on the foot of its trainer, John Reddan, of Warwick, N.Y., while sitting inside a United Airlines plane at Newark Liberty International Airport during a training exercise in Newark, N.J., last year.
A service dog named Orlando rests on the foot of its trainer, John Reddan, of Warwick, N.Y., while sitting inside a United Airlines plane at Newark Liberty International Airport during a training exercise in Newark, N.J., last year. AP

Don’t get me wrong, I adore dogs.

I cried more when my Azabache died than I have for the loss of some humans. My loyal, cotton-ball bichon frise was nothing less than a member of the family — and he often traveled with me.

But I’m incensed that shortly after news breaks that a dog died after being ordered into a United airplane’s overhead bin by a flight attendant, a Republican senator who won’t do a thing about gun control after 17 students and educators are massacred has already filed legislation to address the death.

Do we love our dogs more than we do our children?

It sure looks that way.

For the love of furry friends, Sen. John Kennedy, a Louisiana Republican, certainly broke the cycle of malaise we see after mass shootings.

No time wasted with thoughts and prayers and other deflecting pantomime. He went straight for action to penalize those airlines for their neglect, filing WOOFF, the Welfare of Our Furry Friends Act. The bill directs the Federal Aviation Administration to create regulations to prohibit the storing of a live animal in overhead compartments and establishes fines for violations.

“In a lot of respects, dogs are how people ought to be,” Johnson tweeted Thursday. “What happened on @united was disgraceful and doesn’t need to happen again. I don’t enjoy having to legislate common decency, but by God, I’m going to do it until they take this seriously.”

If only he would take the plight of our nation’s children as seriously.

All this dog love from a man who on Valentine’s Day wished his wife a happy one on Twitter — and said not a word about the Parkland shooting that led the national news that day. He has not addressed the shooting and the issues surrounding it since, except for Fox News sound bites defending the NRA and a Second Amendment that’s not under attack just because people are demanding safety measures.

“We don’t need more gun control, we need better idiot control,” Johnson says. “And I’m talking about the idiots who are supposed to be sending information to the national database, employees at the state and federal level, that aren’t doing it.”

And this other gem: “I am not ‘petrified’ of the NRA. I am petrified of giving the power to confiscate guns and ask questions later to public officials. If you trust government, you obviously failed history class.”

Johnson is also the type who fear-mongers with visions of socialism and communism at the drop of a regulation he doesn’t like, but hey, for the dogs, he made sure his bill comes across as bipartisan. His co-sponsor is Sen. Catherine Cortez Masto, a Nevada Democrat.

“Too many animals have died as a result of human neglect and carelessness,” she tweeted. “Our WOOFF Act is designed to protect the well-being of our beloved family members — our pets — when traveling.”

What a darling collaboration.

I’m glad there’s legislation in the works to protect traveling animals, but I hope this working relationship doesn’t end there, and Cortez Masto can get Kennedy on board with the same decisiveness and enthusiasm on much needed gun safety legislation. Because in case they both missed it, there were some 7,000 pairs of “empty shoes” left on the Capitol Hill lawn Tuesday intended to represent the American children killed by guns since a madman gun aficionado murdered 20 first-graders and six educators at Sandy Hook Elementary in 2012.

After Sandy Hook — the efforts by devastated parents and the Obama administration to pass common sense and minimal legislation were torpedoed in the Republican-dominated Congress — and we learned that Americans love their guns more than they do their children.

We learned that they clutch that Second Amendment with more fearlessness than they do their children.

Now, we’re learning how fast Congress can actually come to the rescue of dogs when someone is careless, neglectful and causes irreparable harm.

Maybe we need a bill to address the harm Congress’ carelessness, neglect and inaction have inflicted on our children.

Just ask the parents of children who went to school one morning and never came home. Or the relatives of children killed in the Texas church shooting last year. Those 26 victims ranged in age from 5 to 72. Or ask those who have lost loved ones at malls, concerts, theaters, and as collateral damage in drive-by shootings.

These all, too, were someone’s kids and worthy of congressional action.

But somehow thousands of kids killed by guns don’t move Republicans as did poor Kokito, the 10-month-old French bulldog who suffocated in the overhead compartment, and Irgo, the 10-year-old German shepherd mistakenly sent by United to Japan (without his medication) instead of Kansas City.

Lo and behold, Republicans finally grew a heart, but not for kids — for our dogs.

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