Thursday, February 05, 2009

The Huckabee Show

You know – Mike Huckabee – the Arkansas governor who ran for president. I didn’t know he had a show either, until we received a call about being a guest. We looked it up, even watched an episode. FOX News, but it was a chance to show off a couple of X-Vick dogs and how well they are doing. Roo Yori (think World Disc Dog Champ Wallace) was to bring Hector and I was to bring Jonny Justice. And I would surely take a ribbing from our gay friends.

Last minute apologies came from the segment producer yesterday when she revealed that PETA was to suddenly join us. No problem there I assured her, I relished the idea of a face-to-face; to let America know that PETA isn’t just interested in destroying all dogs from a fight bust (without evaluation), but recommends that all shelters across America destroy all of their pit bulls. Though I did let her know that we had just stumbled upon a real problem...

While material searching for a blog promoting the show this weekend, we discovered that Mike Huckabee’s son David had been involved in, of all things, hanging and killing a dog – something that Michael Vick had admitted to also doing himself. So how could we go on the show now?

We wrestled with ethics. It was a great opportunity for the dogs and it was the governor’s son, not the governor himself, and it was ten years ago - his son almost eighteen. Ahh! Had Huckabee ever spoken out about his son’s transgression? If so, we can do this. After a search, the best we could find was his response on Larry King Live: “There was a dog that came in. It was mangy. It looked like it was going to attack. He was a staffer at the camp. They put the dog down. They didn’t do a good job of talking to the leaders. The way it was handled was not ideal, but there was no criminal activity.” Depends who you talk to. Animal cruelty, though still a misdemeanor in Arkansas, is a crime nonetheless. Other allegations were made that the dog’s throat was slit and that it was stoned to death while hanging, but this is just rumor. Nobody can say for sure.

We were ready to call it off when the producer suggested we talk to Huckabee himself. I suggested to Mike that the campers were safe once his son had the rope around the dogs neck and that the adults should have then been alerted to make humane decions. He reminded me that his son was seventeen at the time. Fair enough – about the not alerting part – but what about the rest? The dog was then hung over a tree branch as David’s friend recalls. Still, besides rumor, no one has officially talked about how the dog was finally done in. Surely *you* know Mike, he’s your son. “He didn’t tell me” was his reply.

This was the deciding factor for me. His son had lost his job over this, and the dog his life - what father would not want to know such an extremely important detail?

We are all very disappointed over this today, I would have loved the opportunity to show off the dogs and to beat up on PETA for their Unethical stance on our breed, eye-to-eye. But instead, I will simply try to stop imagining that lone, unknown dog, hanging from a tree.



sp said...

i don't necessarily agree that huckabee's unwillingness to place blame on his son should pose enough of a dilemma to cancel an appearance on this show...i suppose i'm hoping his statements are more of a "i don't like to talk about the bad things my son did" instead of a "i think it's just fine to hang a dog" thing.

nonetheless, you all did what you thought was right in this situation, and i am heartened by that. there's enough compromising going on as it is, especially when it comes to the "lesser" priorities in this world, like pets, and in particular pitbulls. besides, this just frees up more time for all those back-logged happy endings..

Anonymous said...

Its a shame that your aren't able to spread the good word of the pit. Things happen for a reason. There are many other opportunities in your future to spread the word. I, personally, would have loved to see you up against those morons at PETA. I no longer support them AT ALL!!!! You did the right thing in pulling the plug. Just remember, good things come to those who wait.

Anonymous said...

I think you made the right decision.
I like Mike Huckabee.
Certainly don`t agree with him on everything but I saw him speak about this incident.
Not 100% sure but I thought it was on Jon Stewart.(I may be wrong but I don`t think it was on Larry King)
He glossed over it like it was a youthful indiscretion.
An 8 yr old taking a shot at a dog with a BB gun MIGHT be a youthful indiscretion.
That would still merit a father not making excuses and having a long sit down chat with that child but the child could be excused.
A 17 yr old hanging a dog...I don`t think so.
As a parent I`d be very very concerned about an individual who would do that and even more concerned about a parent putting it down to being a youth.
I`m sure you`ll get many chances to face PeTA and many more chances to show the dogs.

Anonymous said...

I agree with your ethics, but the opportunity to confront and make public the PETA stance on Pit Bulls would meant so much in educating the public on who PETA really are that I may have wavered on this.

Anonymous said...

A missed opportunity! It's too bad that some young (and cruel) punk swayed your decision and the opportunity to once again advocate for the breed with the V-Dogs to a certainly conservative crowd is lost. And that's an incredible opportunity to expose PETA's true beliefs about fight dogs!

Other opportunities will present themselves. It's good to know you follow your heart!

Anonymous said...

I just think about the hearts and minds that might have been opened a little, changed a little, the veil of ignorance lifted a little, by your appearance on the show. I respect your decision, but wonder if the positive effect of being on the show might have outweighed any compromise you might have made.

Anonymous said...

Wow. I really think you're missing it on this one. I agree that Mikes son's past doesn't pose enough of a dilema to cancel your appearance. It would be a great opportunity to expose Petas true agenda and terrific exposure for the dogs. Maybe rethink the offer and take Mike up on it??

Anonymous said...

Good for you.
Just because a crime takes place in isolation does not mean it is not real. As a parent, I would certainly have been persistent in trying to get to the bottom of this situation.
Thank you for acting according to your beliefs, and taking an ethical stand.
Jean, John and Miss AriMarie the PitMix in Seaside

Anonymous said...

This is why I couldn't vote for Huckabee. If he can't parent a kid, he can't run a country.

And yeah, kids do dumb things. But cruel things? How does a seventeen year old "not know" that it's cruelty? Sorry, doesn't wash.

And Huckabee not standing up and saying, "It was wrong and I am saddened and ashamed that my son killed that dog." speaks volumes.

Saying "The way it was handled was not ideal, but there was no criminal activity." is just CYA. This is not leadership material.

Donna said...

This was a tough one. It was hard for us to say 'yes' originally because some of our dearest friends are gay and we knew that accepting the invitation (Tim, shaking hands with the man, etc) would be a hard pill to swallow.

Tim and Roo each agreed to cancel after a flurry of phone calls and emails back and forth, but once Huckabee confirmed on the phone that the cruelty committed against the dog was long ago and rather overblown, well that sealed the deal.

Even Michael Vick's father spoke out against his son's cruelty. And I don't mean to compare Huckabee's son to Vick, but the similarities are striking.

In the end, we didn't rescue the Vick dogs to show the world why Peta is a bunch of kooks, but to show the world why the breed is brilliant - and yep, there are more opportunities coming up to do a little of both.

I'm sure Tim will have more to say. ;-)

Anonymous said...

While I respect your decision and the rationale behind it I think an important opportunity was missed. It was a good chance to sound off against PETA as well as, reach an audience that may not typically be reached or interested in hearing the plight of the APBT. While I too am angered by Mike's callous and cruel response that the situation was overblown this could have served as an arena to educate him as well as the viewers.

Anonymous said...

You don`t need Huckabee.
He`s a small fish.

That brings to mind your best quote post.

[quote]I was asked the other day......what would you say to somebody who says well they're just dogs. I'd say to somebody who says they're just dogs - that's probably somebody who would say they're just kids or they're just seniors. We can not allow the defenseless among us to be abused and hurt and caged and chained as we see here. - Attorney General Troy King[/quote]

Huckabee`s attitude says a lot about him.
I already had problems with his attitude.

Good decision BadRap.
Bad attitude Mike.

Tim said...

And I do. This is certainly one of those grey areas in life where there isn't a final decision that would leave one feeling good. I love New York and was really looking forward to the trip, even had a carving client with a little game dog that I needed to visit and photograph. But I didn't want to travel across country with a dog unless I felt really good about why I was making the trip, and after my conversation with him I wasn't feeling that good about it.

That this horrific incident took place ten years ago makes it no less horrific, and that MH couldn't expound on what took place tells me he had something to hide, in that there was more than a hanging (not that I think hanging a starved dog is okay). I couldn't go on the show, look at him and smile while talking of our successes with these dogs, while knowing he was hiding details about his own son's cruel act.

Hopefully there will be better things ahead that we can feel 100% about.

Anonymous said...

"It looked like it was going to attack" sounds like they just didn't like the way it looked. It probably wasn't going to attack anyone, it was probably hungry and hoping someone would feed it. "It looked like it was going to attack." Racist people say or think the same thing when they see a black person or a foreigner. These are the same people who want to commit hate crimes but know that legally they can't so when a helpless starved dog crosses their path they decide this is the chance to abuse someone more helpless than themselves and get away with it. Not to sound too dark but I think anyone who would hang a dog by a tree would do the same to a human being. That is seriously sadistic and pathological. Most serial killers tortured animals in their youth.

Jonny Justice said...

I am happy to hear you stayed true to your beliefs, and did not negotiate them. Thanks for always having our best interest at heart, Tim.


Anonymous said...

i respect your decision. though the chance to call peta out on national tv would be so tempting and hard to pass up personally. but yes it seems as though huckabee is a liar and just doesnt want to face up to the cruel actions of his son. if you had gone on the show you probably would have been tempted to call huckabee and his son out as well for the cover up of what went down that day. then who knows how the rest of the show would have gone. cruelty is cruelty and no single act of it should be overlooked, no matter how long ago.

Anonymous said...

Right decision.
Huckabee is full of excuses for this son.

[quote]The elder Huckabee said then that politics was behind the dog-killing accusation.[/quote]

How and why did this guy get a show?

Donna said...

Well, of course it was politics that surfaced this issue -- that's a given! It's too bad someone didn't advise Huckabee to handle this differently ... At the very least a better sound bite, given that the Vick case was throbbing when this skeleton came out of the closet.

Then again, it was "only a dog" and "it was aggressive" (ie, it deserved the harsh death) and "teens will be teens" and yadda yadda.

The Huckabees need to go back in the past and cut this dog down from the tree and recognize that animal cruelty isn't any less cruel coming from a governor's son.

Anonymous said...

Surely, I hope politics wouldn't get in the way and sway you away from appearing on a Fox t.v. show. There are many people who watch Huckabee, conservatives and liberals alike. Pitbull lovers and those who need to see what great dogs they really are! We should be able to rise above political views for the betterment of the breed!

Anonymous said...

I can't believe Huckabee took a step back from this horrific incident. Call it what it is: it was a tragic, bad decision his son made for which he should have been seriously punished.

No living being deserves to be treated like that! 17 years old is old enough to have developed a conscience (or NOT!). Serial killers do horrible acts such as this when they are children. Wake up Huckabee....your son needs help! And I don't care if this happened 10 years ago or 10 minutes ago.... that is a sick and horrible act!

Tim, I completely agree with your decision not to appear on his show. There will be plenty of future opportunities to show off the dogs and discuss your glorious mission of protecting our dogs and educating the public. To appear on this guys' show, given his anti-gay stance, his weak response to the atrocity committed by his own son....who needs him? I totally see your point of view.

As far as PETA....we know far enough about Ingrid's stance on our dogs. None of my friends send them a dime, although they are all heavily involved with animal welfare support. I've changed more than a few minds about PETA.

It's refreshing to see when one is guided by one's morals and you have my support now and always!

Tim said...

"Surely, I hope politics wouldn't get in the way and sway you away from appearing on a Fox t.v. show."

If politics were the issue, I wouldn't have gone on due to his stance on gay rights, or his being republican, or his differing religious views... It was an ethical dilemma that we wrestled with, not politics.

jhumpa jones said...

Hmmmmm. Makes me and my person THINK - about politics, about humanity, about compassion. We heard Huckabee on NPR's "Wait,Wait, Don't Tell Me" last year and he was quite funny and surprisingly witty. Not our political cup of tea, but OK, nonetheless.

But then we learned of MH's son's atrocios acts, and the insulting "excuses" he made for for his kid. And we no longer found him (and what he stands for) amusing or smart.

So thank you. For standing up for what is ultimately right. Yes, it would have been great to see BadRap take on PETA - But perhaps in another forum, where the host does not carry such ghosts...

Anonymous said...

I'm glad to hear how you and Roo came out in what must have been a very difficult decision. You guys have done so much to promote a humane society--maybe people are right and this was a " missed opportunity" but some opportunities are better than others. You are running a high-quality campaign with integrity and I'm proud to support what you're doing. Even prouder now, as a matter of fact. Thanks.

Anonymous said...

MH may in fact be wondering why you turned down a chance to be on national television (who doesn't jump at this opportunity nowadays?!?); however, there is also the possibility that he is beginning to think about this precious dog's life and the way it ended just a little bit differently than he had in the past ten years. If he isn't, his wife may be, or his cousin, or his neighbor . . . You made a difference, Tim, even if it may not be readily apparent just how.

Tim said...

Thanks for all of your support and for the differing opinions as well, which I certainly don't see as any lack of support. It would be disappointing if everyone had the exact same point of view.

Sleep tight you bulldoggers!

Anonymous said...

I can't imagine how hard this decision was for you. Since you followed your heart, I have no doubts that you made the right choice. There will be other opportunities. Standing firm in your beliefs and not downplaying animal cruelty in any form is far too important. It's also the reason so many look up to you.

Kirsten said...

This is a tricky one. At first I wondered if the good could balance out the bad (i.e the chance to see you guys face off with PETA would have been awesome). But I've come around... He's not the only show in town, and it sounds like you would have felt like you were selling a little bit of your soul(s) here. So good for you for sticking to your ethics. Someone has to lead by example. I mean, what his son did and the subsequent cover-up is inexuseable. I can see why you don't want to be in the camp that's pretending it was all somehow OK.

Anonymous said...

Tim and Donna, You made the right decision. I'll admit it: I'm not a TV fan and especially would not be watching any Huckabee show. I wasn't impressed by him during the campaign and now I'm even less impressed. There will be other opportunities to let PETA have it and tell the world about them. You both have scruples, you have principles and I, for one, am proud of your decision.


Unknown said...

I think my favorite part of MH's comment was that is 17 year old son "never told him" what happened that night. Being 21, I can remember plenty of times where the punishment of thinkink I had the option to just not tell would've been was worse than the truth. My parents would've gone nuts on me if I had done something similar, then opted to not tell... yeah not good!

anyways, thank you for making the hard decision and standing by it. you followed what you decided to be right and went with it. Congrats for following your heart, it will pay off in the end


Anonymous said...

I think you made the right decision. Ever since I heard about the Huckabee son/dog incident I have had a bad taste in my mouth every time I hear the name. It is hard for me to imagine that the son and father did not talk about this incident also. I just can't get past it.