It was the shot heard ‘round California, and perhaps we should have expected it. In truth, however, when almost 350 of our fellow fanciers watched on April 24 as California Assembly Bill 1634, a statewide mandate requiring all dogs, with few exceptions, to be spayed or neutered by four months of age, passed through committee we were all shocked by the news. Although the bill had been pending since early this year, dog legislation of this magnitude has not been adopted in any state in this country and unfortunately, until the eleventh hour I think many of us simply believed that it “couldn’t happen here.” Here being in the United States, where we value our freedom, individuality and ability to make our own rational decisions without undue interference from government. There are so many aspects of this bill that are so misguided and ill-advised; yet it is steps away from becoming law.
The seeds for this threat were planted last year, when in May the County of Los Angeles passed an ordinance requiring all dogs except law enforcement, service and those that qualify as “competition” dogs to be spayed or neutered. Similar legislation passed through Sacramento County and has been threatened in Riverside County. And yet we were not prepared for the statewide mandate to get as far as it has.
As those in the fancy often do, our people rallied and made a commendable showing at the State Capitol on April 24, and many handlers, breeders, judges and owners continue to fight AB 1634. All is not yet lost and of course there’s hope that we can stop this bill from becoming law. A key lesson here is that this is not just about California; there are rumblings of this kind of legislation all over the country. Every single person involved in purebred dogs must make themselves aware of what animal rights and animal control activists are working on, no matter where you live.
Don’t fool yourself about this. Don’t convince yourself that “other” dog people will monitor pending legislation, alert other fanciers, do the legwork to fight these laws, show to rally. Illusions of that kind will eventually buy us all local and state laws that require us to prove that our dogs will soon or have recently been shown, purchase “intact” permits for each dog we own, renew those permits every year at an unspecified fee, and fret as each puppy we’ve raised approaches the 4-month-old mark – all this while exempting commercial breeders and puppy mills that are certainly far more part of the problem than responsible hobby breeders.
To learn more about AB 1634 see Paula Pascoe’s notes on page 74 and Dr. Jacky Hungerland’s report on page 75. Dr. Gerry Meisels brings a sane voice to the problem of this kind of legislation on page 62, and there is much, much more of interest in this issue. AKC monitors pending legislation all over the U.S. and updated information can always be found at www.akc.org under “News.” DR now also includes summaries of pending legislation in each issue.
Regarding anti-dog and spay/neuter legislation, remember – we, responsible dog owners and breeders, are not part of the problem – unless we fail to be part of the solution.
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