The Washington Post recently ran a story that struck me as both ridiculous and awesome at the same time.
The short of it: government regulations compel magician to develop a disaster plan for his rabbit.
Can it possibly get better than this?
To keep his rabbit license, Hahne needed to write a rabbit disaster plan.
“Fire. Flood. Tornado. Air conditioning going out. Ice storm. Power failures,” Hahne said, listing a few of the calamities for which he needed a plan to save the rabbit.
If you want to skip the back story and read the plan, pass go and collect “Marty the Magician’s Disaster Plan for ‘Bunny’:”
(In case you were wondering, yes the bunny has it’s own “go bag.”)
According to the Post, decades of creeping government regulation comes to a crescendo, for all manner of animals anyway, following Katrina:
This new rule was first proposedby the USDA in 2006 under President George W. Bush.
Its inspiration was Hurricane Katrina, in which animals from pet dogs to cattle to lab mice were abandoned in the chaos. Now, all licensed exhibitors would need to have a written plan to save their animals.
The government asked for public comments in 2008. It got 997. Just 50 commenters were in favor of the rule as written.
But that, apparently, was enough. After a years-long process,the rule took effect Jan. 30.
Eventually, this caught up with the magician in question, Marty Hahne. While he engaged professional help, other magicians’ plans aren’t as robust:
“I’ll take a piece of paper and put down, ‘Note: Take rabbit with you when you leave,’?” said Gary Maurer, a magician with a licensed rabbit in South Carolina. “That’s my plan.”
But Hahne has obtained professional help.Kim Morgan, who has written disaster plans for entire federal agencies, heard about his case and volunteered to help write the rabbit’s plan for free.
So far, the plan she has written is 28 pages.
“That’s pretty short,” given what the USDA asked for, Morgan said. She covered many of the suggested calamities: chemical leaks, floods, tornadoes, heat waves.
As if this story could not get any better, the description of what seems like an entirely unconnected government over-reach may have inadvertently provided the homeland security enterprise with the long sought definition of success:
After the show, Hahne put Casey back in her case and drove home. His wife, Brenda, asked how it went. He told her there’d been no disasters.
“The show went well,” he said. “Nobody peed onstage.”
Addendum: Upon reflection, I realized I wrote this post a little too quickly. In doing so, I omitted a few important points. What I found silly is the situation that a man who owns a rabbit that spends most of its day as a pet, while occasionally leaving the house to appear in his magic act, is required to file a rabbit-specific disaster plan with federal authorities. What I did not mean to do is dismiss pet preparedness in general — any individuals or families with pets should take them into account when making plans and go bags; and any business with a reasonable number of animals should have to account for them in case of disaster (i.e. pet store owners shouldn’t be allowed to evacuate in the face of a hurricane while leaving all the pets in their charge to fend for themselves).