Occupy Denver has elected a three-year-old border collie named Shelby as its official leader.
She was voted into the position by Occupy Denver's General Assembly on Tuesday night. The election was a reaction to Denver Mayor Michael Hancock's insistence that Occupy Denver choose leadership to deal with City and State officials, according to the group's Web site.
Shelby exhibits heart, warmth, and an appreciation for the group over personal ambition that Occupy Denver members feel are sorely lacking in the leaders some of them have voted for on national, state, and local levels, the group said in a press release.
Shelby is closer to a person than any corporation: She can bleed, she can breed, and she can show emotion, Occupy Denver added, mocking the idea that corporations are people.
Shelby has been protesting, along with her owner Peter John Jentsch, for a month.
She spent a few weeks getting to know everybody here, so when Al [Nesby, an Occupy Denver figure] nominated her, everybody knew who she was and liked her, Jentsch told the Denver Westward. She's the youngest leader of a revolution in history and the first of any occupation so far, but she's smart, so people know she won't make any situations. We just have to make sure she doesn't get arrested.
In her first action as leader, Shelby will lead Occupy Denver on a march against Corporate Personhood this Saturday.
Animals in Office
Could Shelby's appointment also be a nod to George Orwell's Animal Farm, the satirical novel that turned the Soviet Union's early leaders into pigs?
Certainly the parallels are there, if you really reach for them: a corrupt system, the overthrow of capitalism, snowballs (Denver is cold, after all). But let's not be ridiculous. We're talking about an elected official.
The most famous instance of an animal is office is Incitatus, the horse appointed consul to Roman emperor Caligula. While historians debate both the motive and accuracy of the horse's positions, many conjecture that Incitatus' governmental role was meant to anger the provoke and ridicule the senate. Or, perhaps it was an ironic commentary on Roman lawmakers, much like Shelby's appointment was an ironic reaction to Mayor Hancock's rules.
In modern U.S. history, there have been a number of animals elected into local office, including a black Labrador-Rottweiler named Bosco who served as the mayor of Sunol, California from 1981 to 1990.
In 1938, a brown mule named Boston Curtis was put into the running for a precinct seat in Milton, Washington. He won 52 to zero.
The unincorporated town of Rabbit Hash, Kentucky has elected three dogs as its mayor, starting with Goofy in 1998, who was followed by Junior in 2004 and Lucy Lou, a border collie, in 2008. Not everything has gone smoothly under the canine commanders, however, and Junior was banned from the General Store per order of the Northern Kentucky Health Department. Turns out even non-human politicians are susceptible to scandal.