Round Two for California Pet Spay-Neuter Bill

Hearing Wednesday at State Capitol is expected to draw supporters, foes of legislation.

Posted: June 25, 2008, 5 a.m. EDT

California Assembly Bill 1634, which sought to mandate statewide dog and cat sterilization, was significantly amended in the state’s Senate bill and no longer requires pets to be spayed or neutered.

Instead, the bill stiffens penalties for existing laws associated with dogs and cats who aren’t spayed or neutered. The amendment also strips the bill of its “California Healthy Pets Act” title and shifts the legislation from the Health and Safety Code to the Food and Agricultural Code.

Despite the major revision, opponents of the bill, including PetPAC, continue to fight the legislation, citing due process concerns. PetPAC plans to lobby legislators Wednesday, June 25, when the Senate Committee on Local Government plans a hearing on the bill at 9:30 a.m.

The bill would increase the fines to pet owners for intact cats and dogs impounded by animal control agencies from $35 to $50 for the first occurrence. For dogs, that fine would increase from $50 to $100 for the second occurrence and require neutering of the dog, at the owner’s expense, on the third occurrence.

Cats would need to be spayed or neutered at the owner’s expense following the second occurrence. The amended legislation calls for an additional fine for intact animals when the owner is cited for another animal-related complaint, except for excessive noise or barking.

The fines, which would be in addition to fines associated with the original complaint, would be $50 for first occurrence for cats or dogs. Then, just as with the impound fines, that fine for dogs would be $100 for the second occurrence and require neutering, at the owner’s expense, on the third occurrence.

Cats would need to be spayed or neutered at the owner’s expense following the second occurrence. The fines can be waived if the pet owner presents written proof from a licensed veterinarian that the pet was neutered within 14 business days of the citation.

PetPAC, formed in 2007 to defeat the bill when introduced, expressed concern that the legislation allows nonprofit corporations such as humane societies to levy fines and to receive money from fines levied, without direct government involvement. Many local jurisdictions in California contract out animal control duties to such private organizations.

The amended legislation has been re-referred to the Senate Committee on Local Government.

To read more about AB 1634 and California’ spay-neuter legislation, click here.


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Sven   Y, CA

6/25/2008 2:35:57 PM

I think that individual owners should be allowed to decide whether or not their dog is fixed.

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Geraldine Clarke   Sacramento, CA

6/25/2008 7:41:19 AM

The totally rewritten AB1634 was designed to look like a "compromise" but it is far from that. It is a outrageous violation of all due process and will result in more animals being abandoned to shelters. It's time to just kill AB1634 and start over in the next legislative session to write a bill that will actually do something effective about the problem of unwanted animals in
shelters.

My problems with the new (and definitely not improved)
AB1634:


1- A "complaint" can be anything, even an anonymous phone call with no evidence at all presented to support the allegation. It can be about anything (except barking) that the complainer finds offensive. And once the complaint is made there is absolutely no way for the animal's owner to prove that the complaint was not valid, or a complete lie or that there were mitigating circumstances. There will be NO hearing or any due process.



2- On the second or third complaint, in addition to the fines, the animal is impounded which will mean unspecified but, undoubtedly, great costs to the owner and which means a great number of animals will be abandoned at that point.



2- Then the animal will undergo surgery any place the impounding organization wants to do it and, if the animal dies or suffers harm, the organization cannot be held liable for it no matter how negligent it was (and the owner still has to pay for the operation that killed her dog.)



3- Totally alarming is the fact that the impounding organizations do not have to be governmental where oversight by the public is possible but can be a private organization that calls itself a "humane society".



4- Also there is no time limit on the complaints so three complaints can be made in one day or spread out over many, many years.



5- Absolutely NO regard is given to the health of the animal so, if a 17 year old dog who got out a couple of times as a puppy has another complaint filed against her, she will have to go under the knife, even if her health is so poor that she will likely die.




6- Since there are no penalties for neutered animals and their owners in AB1634, it is obvious that this is a bill about forced sterilization rather than dealing with problem animals and the abandonment of animals to
shelters

7- The majority of animals killed in shelters are feral cats. This bill does absolutely nothing to address that.

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