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  • Mike Fry

Boots on the Ground Extra: How racism intersects with BSL and animal control

In the film Boots on the Ground: The Twin Cities No Kill Story, Minneapolis City Council Member Cam Gordon mentions the link between killing in animal shelters and old, outdated policing practices, which are strongly tied to systemic racism. Racist practices and policies in animal shelters are, in fact, strongly correlated to killing of animals in animal shelters, with shelters doing the most killing having the most racism in their systems.

It is a topic that could be made into its own film. In fact, the very first interview I did for Boots on the Ground: The Twin Cities No Kill Story was with Twin Cities-based attorney, Marshall Tanick, whom I have known for about 20 years. Marshall and I have worked together litigating against puppy mills and on a host of other animal welfare topics. Marshall has successfully sued multiple municipalities, challenging breed bans, fighting arbitrary dangerous dog ordinances and advocating for the pets of people who have gotten caught up in overly bureaucratic and lethal animal control operations.

I interviewed Marshall for the film before Minneapolis transitioned to No Kill; and, because of their successful transition, his interview was no longer as pertinent to the film. But, in the proper historical context, the information he provided was incredibly meaningful. So, I am presenting his interview in its entirety here. Marshall spoke of systemic racism, breed bans and the arbitrary and ambiguous ways dangerous dog laws are often enforced.

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