Outrage over Geist should be directed to other causes, too

Before I start let me make one thing perfectly clear. I love my pets! I have seven children, four of which are of the furry variety, so before anyone thinks that this blog is anything other than supportive for animal rights, you aren’t actually reading it.

We’ve all heard about the recent shooting of a Salt Lake City man’s dog, a beautiful Weimaraner named Geist. A neighborhood tot went missing and while searching for the child a policeman entered the fenced and gated backyard. Geist was in the backyard, the policeman felt threatened, and Geist was shot dead.

Since the shooting there have been calls for the officer to be fired, for better training, public apologies, etc. People are furious, rightly so.

But where is the fury over other issues? Where is the outrage over our legislature’s refusal to support expanding Medicaid, or the lack of leadership from the Governor’s office to press for their “Healthy Utah” plan.

Where are the citizens with pitchforks and torches demanding the resignation of legislators who stand on the floor of the House or Senate and effectively condemn 100,000+ Utahns who desperately need coverage to an uncertain future?

According to Health Affairs, a health policy journal, the decision to not accept federally-funded Medicaid expansion will result in between 102 (low estimate) and 306 (high estimate) deaths. Yes–deaths. People will die without Medicaid expansion.

Several groups have been collecting petition signatures to encourage the Governor and the Legislature to accept Medicaid Expansion.

In total (we’ll just assume there are no duplicates of people signing different petitions–which is highly unlikely), there are just over 3,500 signatures of Utahns in support of Medicaid Expansion.

A petition to hold the officer accountable for shooting Geist has almost 65,000 signatures.

In January, a Medicaid Expansion coalition held a rally. Reports of the rally state that “hundreds gathered” to ask the legislature to support expansion.

A rally was being organized to demand justice for Geist. The Facebook page had 1,300 RSVPs.

I think what the officer did was wrong. From all accounts there were so many other ways this could have been handled without it resulting in the death of this man’s companion. The shooting of a pet evokes an emotional response in every single one of us who has ever had a companion like Geist. People are right to want justice.

But people should also be demanding justice for the 100,000+ Utahns who desperately need coverage that is being denied them every single day we delay expanding Medicaid.

We all have the right to rally, sign petitions, and stand up for things we truly believe in. Let’s remember to use this right and the power of our unified positions for all worthy issues, not just the ones that are the most emotional.

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