Editors Note: Samantha Murdock has just moved to Burbank and will be writing a column whenever she sees an issue that interests here from the prospective of someone who is not emotional involved in day to day Burbank – at least not yet
By Samantha Murdock
The other night I had my first experience at a Burbank City Council meeting. The main topic of discussion that night was the proposed ordinance that would, in essence, ban pet stores from selling animals that have been obtained through puppy mills. Without delving into the overwhelming specifics, the ordinance would basically prevent all pet stores in Burbank, both future and current, from selling animals that were obtained in any fashion other than what is deemed to be a “rescue.”
I think that it’s safe to assume that most people would agree that animal cruelty is unacceptable under any and all circumstances. Puppy mills have a reputation of treating animals like livestock, churning out animals strictly to make a profit. I must say I was pleased to see how many people in this city are speaking up for animal rights and presenting a strong, unified voice to City Council.
Now, before I continue, allow me to tell you a little bit about myself. I have lived in Burbank for a whopping 28 days. I moved here from Canada to be with my fiancé. When he and I were deciding which country we were going to live in, he was an avid endorser of Burbank. I agreed to move down – with my rescue cat – after seeing his list of pros, which included everything from outstanding civil services and low crime rates to a friendly, comfortable small-town feel.
I have to say, after Tuesday night, it’s a little harder to look at Burbank and see that friendly, supportive community. I understand that politics, at any level, can bring out some strong reactions and opinions, which is great. It’s important for the citizens of any community to be involved and feel as though their voices are being heard. However, some of the voices heard on Tuesday night crossed over from being passionate about a cause to vindictive, spiteful, pointed attacks on one local business in particular.
Peggy Wood’s Pet Emporium, which has been owned by the Lippman family for over 30 years, is the business that was on the receiving end of these attacks. While I understand that the store has been accused of participating in practices that some would consider outdated, it does not change the fact that the business is being run by a family that has been loyal and dedicated to the local Burbank community for decades. These are hardworking, kind-hearted people who support their community. They are not cruel, heartless, animal-hating people. Some of the comments made against the pet store went beyond a critique of their business practices. These comments were personal attacks on Ira Lippman’s integrity as a business owner and as a human being.
Several participants of the City Council meeting that were in support of the ordinance were blatantly disrespectful and rude to the people speaking on behalf of Peggy Wood’s. Scoffing, eye rolling, name-calling and blatant mocking were just a few of the behaviors I noticed coming from the pro-ordinance bunch. Again, I understand that people feel strongly about the issue, but the impertinence was unnecessary. The pro-ordinance group was informed and obviously passionate, and they had constructed an eloquent and well thought out argument but due to the behavior of some, it came across as little more than a schoolyard feud.
This issue was, without question, a heated one. It stirred up some very strong emotional responses in people from both camps. Responses that at times, maybe caused people to lose their head just a bit, and stray away from rational, calm discussion. I think that it was all too easy for some of these individuals to forget that there are people behind Peggy Wood’s Pet Emporium and that the store is more than just some business, but that it is a group of people who are trying their hardest to do what is right for their family, their business and their community. People who are deserving of, at minimum, civil interactions and treatment.
I hope that moving forward from this City Council debate I’ll be able to find a better example of that friendly, supporting community I was promised. It’s clear that the passion for the city is there, but the execution was a little lacking this time around. In the meantime, I’ll continue to support Peggy Wood’s Pet Emporium and the vast array of other amazing local Burbank businesses.