A bill making Old Drum Missouri's State Historic Dog has passed the Tourism and Natural Resources Committee and could be scheduled for a vote on the floor of the Missouri House of Representatives. The bill, HB 306, is sponsored by Dennis Hoskins, R-Warrensburg.
And although Old Drum, the famous dog from Warrensburg who inspired a Missouri Supreme Court Justice speech that coined the phrase "man's best friend," would be the designated Historic Dog, the bill also makes room for Jim the Wonder Dog.
If passed, Jim would be "designated as Missouri's Wonder Dog."
The agreement to include both dogs in the bill may have come in light of the fierce battle supporters for both dogs had a year ago in Jefferson City, when three bills were introduced seeking designation for Missouri's Historic Dog.
Former state Rep. Joe Aull, D-Marshall, introduced one of the bills, making Jim the Wonder Dog the state's Historic Dog. Hoskins introduced another one, pleading for the same honor to be bestowed upon his hometown dog, Old Drum.
A third bill, HB 1813, was also introduced in 2012 by Chrissy Sommer, R-St. Charles, which would recognize Seaman, Lewis and Clark's expedition dog, as the dog to represent Missouri. This latter bill did not receive much traction.
Unlike last year, two state legislators now representing the district that encompasses Marshall are from Warrensburg: Rep. Dean Dohrman and Sen. David Pearce. Warrensburg's legislative pull seemed to work in favor of Old Drum, when earlier this year the bill originally introduced by Hoskins made mention of only Old Drum.
Hoskins was not immediately available for comment, but his office said Hoskins was thoughtful of both communities when later making the decision to include Jim on the bill.
"Jim did not appear on the initial version of the bill," said Caitlin Kerber, legislative assistant to Hoskins. "However, after considering how hard the people of Marshall had fought in previous years to include him on similar legislation, Rep. Hoskins felt it was only right that both dogs receive recognition."
Pearce, whose district represents both Warrensburg and Marshall, said he would support the bill in the Senate should it pass the House.
"It's a difficult situation because we represent both communities," Pearce said. "That's like asking which of your children you like better. I think they are both great dogs from great communities."
He said he was glad to see a compromise was reached on the matter.
"I was so glad to see that done," Pearce said. "Both dogs are good for the recognition of both communities. I will absolutely support it."
Larry Arrowood, who is overseeing the construction of the upcoming Jim the Wonder Dog museum and Visitors Center, said he was pleased with the proposed bill.
"Obviously, we would rather it just be one dog, but we are just glad they are willing to consider Jim and his importance not only to Marshall but to the state," Arrowood said.
Arrowood said Donna Huston, of the Friends of Jim the Wonder Dog non-profit, should be praised for her efforts on getting Jim recognized at the state level.
Huston, who also spearheaded 2012's campaign to get Jim Historic State Dog designation, said she was grateful the legislators were considering both communities.
"I am kind of glad the way it turned out," Huston said. "Our representatives, in spite of being from Warrensburg, have really worked hard to include Marshall. If we get the Missouri Wonder Dog designation, I'd love that title."
House Bill 306
Good natured 'dog fight' enlivens House Tourism Committee hearing | Friends of Jim the Wonder Dog make their case for historic dog designation
Race heats up for state historic dog designation