Eugene Democrat wants to allow dogs in Capitol

Eugene Democrat wants to allow dogs in Capitol
State Sen. Vicki Walker

SALEM, Ore. (AP) — The "D-word" has resurfaced at the State Capitol. Luckily, it's not Depression.

State Sen. Vicki Walker has introduced a bill that would let dogs return to the Capitol.

Dogs had been a fixture at the statehouse until the current legislative session. A no-dogs rule went into effect because legislative leaders decided a more professional atmosphere was needed. Lawmakers also wanted to protect the new carpet and furniture following a taxpayer-financed renovation project.

Only service dogs, such as those that assist the blind, are welcome.

Walker, however, was among the lawmakers and other employees who enjoyed bringing their dog to work. Toby, her Tibetan terrier, wasn't a statehouse regular, but he would drop by for the occasional visit.

The Eugene Democrat is now making do with a steel sculpture of a dog. It's just not the same, so she has sponsored Senate Bill 433, which would eliminate the ban. The bill, however, but provide a way to restrict dogs that have "past instances of unsafe, unruly or unsanitary behavior."

Toby, naturally, would make the cut.

"He is a little ADD," Walker acknowledged. "But he's not unsafe, unruly or unsanitary."

Walker said a well-behaved dog can put visitors at ease. And she said her colleagues enjoy having their pet around for a pat on the head or an excuse to go out for a walk.

Though the issue provides a diversion in a session filled with economic angst, it's not going to have an easy time passing.

Rep. Wayne Krieger, R-Gold Beach, told Walker he couldn't support it.

"I have three dogs and I love them, but I don't want dogs under my seat, peeing on the wall or leaving mangy hair everywhere," he said. "This is the Capitol. It's not a doghouse."

Information from: The Register-Guard, http://www.registerguard.com

(Copyright 2009 The Associated Press.)