Barry Switzer: SQ 777 eases the way for puppy mills and dirty water

Letters to the Editor

My passion for the gridiron is well known. What a lot of people don’t know about me is my love of animals.

My wife, Becky, and I own several dogs and they are a big part of our life. We have trained working dogs, and we own others that are being trained for search and rescue missions. We’ve also rescued many dogs over the years who were abused or neglected and we do whatever we can to elevate animal welfare, including facilitating adoptions.

Our passion for animals is just one of the reasons we oppose State Question 777.

If SQ 777 passes, it will make it easier for puppy mills to exist. Puppy mill operators will be able to classify themselves as farmers and their animals as livestock.

Puppy mills are atrocities where neglect, disease and abuse is rampant. Animals are caged 24-7 and some live their entire lives in wire cages, never once touching or rolling in the grass. Adult dogs are often debarked, which involves ramming a steel rod down their throats to rupture their vocal cords.

I could go on with the atrocities, but you get the point: Puppy mills are an abomination.

Another reason Becky and I are voting no on SQ 777 is because it threatens Oklahoma’s ability to maintain clean water and air for our grandchildren. Instead, it gives constitutional protection to corporations that profit off industrial farming, entrusting them, and not local and state officials, to decide what’s best for Oklahomans’ public welfare.

These corporations are trying to mislead voters by painting SQ 777 as “right to farm” and using wholesome imagery of family farmers and Oklahoma landscapes to lure votes to change our state constitution. This is a problem because SQ 777 isn’t about family farmers; it’s about big-time corporate agriculture wanting fewer and fewer restrictions on how they operate.

Oklahoma’s family farmers have always been good team players, taking care of land, water and air. Big Ag doesn’t have the same game plan and winning record.

Big Ag is trying to represent itself as the underdog, as the little team being blitzed. They’re actually going town to town across our state saying they’re in danger of being sacked and that our food supply could be compromised.

I’m not making this up. That’s what they’re saying to scare Oklahomans into voting yes. Football coaches would call this a trick play, a tight end around, and we shouldn’t be fooled by it.

Consider this football analogy: One team is Big Ag. The other team is natural resources and animal welfare. The referees are state and local officials who make sure both sides play fair. But a “yes” vote for SQ 777, gives Team Big Ag the referees, too.

If this happens, it’s game over. Big Ag will “hang half-a-hundred” on us.

Join me in voting “No” on 777.

Barry Switzer, former head football coach of the University of Oklahoma and the Dallas Cowboys, lives in Norman.