March 28, 2022
Happy Monday! Not taking a side often means you’re taking a side.
☀️ Today's weather: Definitely getting warmer. Highs in the 80s, lows in the 60s.
🎵 Sounds like: "Puppy Love"
🔥Situational awareness: The National Weather Service has issued a red flag warning for more than 20 North Texas counties due to warm weather and air quality issues.
Today's newsletter is a stalwart 954 words — a 3.5 minute read.
1 big thing: National group lobbies against Dallas puppy ban
As Dallas leaders consider an ordinance that would ban stores from selling puppies, a national organization has a local campaign opposing the effort.
- HumaneWatch, which lobbies against animal rights legislation, has begun radio advertising opposing the puppy-sale ban and launched an email campaign directed at Dallas officials.
Why it matters: Hundreds of animals are transported into Dallas from out-of-state puppy mills each year, many just eight weeks old and sick, according to the Texas Humane Legislation Network, an advocacy group that works to pass laws with more humane policies for animals.
Zoom out: HumaneWatch is funded by the Center for Consumer Freedom, a nonprofit that gets funding from the food and beverage industry.
- The group has also campaigned against PETA and the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine, and it’s associated with lobbyists who’ve targeted unions, anti-smoking and anti-drunk driving efforts, according to Politico.
Context: Ten Texas cities already have similar bans on the books, including Austin and Fort Worth, and Dallas leaders supported legislation that would've created a similar prohibition statewide.
Meanwhile, Dallas Animal Services is trying to find homes for 90% of the dogs and cats it takes in each year.
- A ban on pet store sales would "support Dallas Animal Services by moving the local pet market toward shelters and rescues," according to a presentation in December at the quality of life, arts and culture committee.
Of note: The Dallas Animal Advisory Commission didn't vote on the matter, but in its first meeting of the year the commission was generally supportive of the proposed ordinance, per a city memo.
What they’re saying: The group that opposes the puppy-sale ban says on its site that "this measure, if passed, would hurt both dogs and people," comparing the ban to Prohibition.
The other side: Americans spend billions on their pets each year.
- "No pet store has to sell puppies in order to be a successful business," Lauren Loney, the state director of the Humane Society of the United States, told council members during a briefing last year.
💭 Our thought bubble: Adopt, don’t shop. And if you must have a purebred, get a greyhound!
2. Comparing red state COVID deaths
COVID is killing more people per 100,000 in red states than in blue states.
Why it matters: "The COVID-19 pandemic removed any doubt that state policies can affect health outcomes," Virginia Commonwealth University professor Steven Woolf recently argued in JAMA.
Yes, but: Texas, which is pretty red, ranks just outside the top 25 states in deaths per 100,000 residents, per the CDC.
- At least 87,328 Texans have died from COVID.
Zoom in: Dallas County ranks 226th in COVID deaths per capita — out of 254 counties overall. Tarrant — whose county judge is Republican — is at 228th and Collin is at 248th.
Between the lines: The partisan gap across the states, measured by deaths above what would normally be expected, was particularly stark during last year's Delta wave, when all adults had access to vaccines but stark differences emerged between Democrat and Republican vaccination rates.
The bottom line: COVID-19 has proven to be exhaustingly unpredictable in many ways over the last two years. But there's no doubt that tools like high-quality masks and vaccines reduce the risk of catching the virus, and in the case of vaccines, of dying from it.
- That means it's not surprising that once those tools were widely available, counties within Texas with political and cultural aversions to using them were generally hit harder.
The big picture: Gov. Greg Abbott has been buffeted by attacks from his right and left for his performance during the pandemic, but if new hospitalizations and deaths remain down between now and November, Democratic challenger Beto O’Rourke will have a harder time persuading voters to head to the polls.
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3. 🐼 We asked, you answered
Last week we had a picture of this sculpture and asked if you knew where in North Texas the photo was taken.
The intrigue: We had dozens of great responses. The correct answer: The sculpture is in the East Quarter, at the corner of Commerce and Cesar Chavez. It was created by French contemporary artist Richard Orlinski.
- Orlinski is the best-selling French contemporary artist in the world, and this was his first installation in the U.S.
The bottom line: The first person to reply with the correct answer was Ryan C., who will receive some incredibly stylish Axios swag.
🤔 Know of an awesome hidden local treasure other readers would struggle to identify? Hit reply, and tell us about it.
4. 🗞 Burnt ends: Bite-sized news bits
💳 A McKinney woman found a credit card skimmer inside a gas station after her bank account was wiped out by scammers. (NBC5)
🏌️ Dallas resident Scottie Scheffler is now the No. 1 ranked golfer on the PGA tour. (ESPN)
🌪️ The Texas teenager whose pickup was seen flipping in a tornado was given a new truck and $15,000 by a Fort Worth dealership. (WFAA)
📚 The Granbury ISD superintendent ordered librarians to pull books about transgender people, raising constitutional concerns. (Texas Tribune)
🥁 Remembering Taylor Hawkins, the Fort Worth-born Foo Fighters drummer who died during the weekend. (Axios)
5. 🥃 One whiskey to go
In case you somehow missed it, yesterday was International Whisk(e)y Day.
- We use the parentheses to be inclusive of Scots, Canadians and Japanese, who spell it without an e. Irish and Americans usually include the e.
- Texans can go either way.
Driving the news: In honor of this very important holiday, we consumed one of our all-time favorite distilled beverages — made right here in Texas.
- Balcones Mirador is an annual release that uses a blend of malt whiskies aged in used barrels.
- It usually retails for $70-$85 a bottle, and it's popular with aficionados.
Pro tip: This is Scotchier than most Balcones.
Six word review: Subtle citrus twang. Worth every penny.
😳 Mike is stunned by what happened at the Oscars last night.
😬 Tasha is going to avoid saying Will Smith’s wife’s name, just to be safe.
Like drinking whisk(e)y with us? Refer your friends to Axios Dallas, and get cool merch like stickers, totes, hats, T-shirts and more!