California Bill AB 1634 Manditory Spay Neuter law

Tags: dogs, akc, california, bill, legislation, AB 1634, breeders, puppy mills

Is this a good or bad law?

Question Comment 1: Everyone who is in California better be paying attention to this bill. This will wipe out the hobby breeder. Read this link. AKC has not sent a lobbyist to fight this and neither have any of the dog food manufacturers and the California AVMA is siding with PETA on this one. California sure has allot of dog breeders that will be hurting from this one.

The Law:

It would be illegal to have an intact cat or dog over four months of age unless you have an intact permit from your local jurisdiction; city or county. The local jurisdiction can charge whatever they want for the permit. As written the bill says that the only dogs that can get a permit are
• those that are registered with AKC, UKC, or ADBA,
• and is a guide dog or other service dog,
• and is a police dog,
• and you have a letter from your vet saying the dog is too sick to be spayed or neutered
Local jurisdictions can include other registries.
There is not a dog in the state that meets all those requirements.
In private conversation the author of the bill says the "and" is a mistake. It is supposed to be an "or". We take her at her word and assume the bill will be changed. Doesn't matter. Even with an "or" this bill will be devastating if it becomes law.

As a potential California resident and since they often set precedents for the rest of the nation, I've written a letter on the California Healthy Pets Act. If anyone has suggestions for additions, revisions or other comments, fire away. Directly to me may be the best way unless you feel the whole list should see it. Thanks. BTW, there's no longer an exemption for belonging to a registry. You also have to have won a title (from a big list including carting and agility) by 2 yrs of age and compete at least every 2 years for life.

California Pet Act and Puppy Mills and Back Yard Breeders

Comment 2: While there are good reasons to spay and neuter pets, AB 1634, "California Healthy Pets Act" is not a good law for the following reasons:

1. It has little impact on puppy mills but a major adverse impact on responsible breeders. Responsible breeders improve their breeds through health testing, socialization and other time consuming and expensive means. They typically make little profit. Imposing another fee which may end up fairly high could make it impossible for them to stay in California. Even "backyard" breeders wont be affected much because their costs are much lower.
2. The exemptions are poorly thought out. Large breeds don't mature until about 3 years of age. Some don't even begin their show careers until after 4 years of age. The bill requires finishing by 2 years of age what many don't start until years later.
3. Early castration increases risk of the deadliest cancers and other orthopedic problems. Despite the “Healthy” title, it is likely that the deadliest cancers will increase in dogs spayed or neutered this young. Some cancers, such as mammary, testicular and uterine cancers are eliminated, but the deadliest cancers in dogs are bone cancers. Some studies show a significant increase in bone cancer, as well as hemangiosarcoma, cranial cruciate tears, hip dysplasia, adverse vaccine reactions and hypothyroidism. These are far bigger problems than the relatively rare health issues improved by spaying and neutering. Some of these can be avoided by spaying/neutering after the growth plates close. Forcing pets to suffer because of extremists' views is wrong. A delay of a few months in spaying pets will not affect the stray population very much but will have a big impact on improving the health of pets. (
4. Animal control officers will be used as tools of harassment. Because of the impracticality of consistent enforcement, petty neighbor disputes and political differences will be the main driver of who gets targeted and when.

AKC has put out a suggested letter for sending to California legislators. Go to the AKC site to obtain a copy. It is quite good in my opinion

I absolutely 100% agree that the threat of a neighbor or stranger or some disgruntled doofus making a claim of "attack" against a person with a companion dog is always a potential. I also agree 100% that legislating AGAINST dogs is not the way to resolve any problem (please note, I'm not going to agree or disagree that there is a problem one way or another in this particular post) having to do with dogs.

The problem with ALL prohibitive legislation aimed at one segment or another of a population is that it is fundamentally UNFAIR and probably unconstitutional on some ground or other. The difficulty lies in utilizing the judicial branch of government to exercise its constitutional check/balance on the legislative branch of government. IT IS EXTREMELY costly to mount a legal campaign against a law to the Supreme Court of the given State/Commonwealth or of the USofA. And, in every State that I am aware of, it requires the highest appellate court in that State to declare a piece of legislation unconstitutional to the point it is repealed.

Even fighting against legislation promulgated by municipal body (city/town/county) is very costly.

The issue, fundamentally is this: The lack of responsible pet ownership (defined however you want to define it for this purpose) causes a few people to rally round the wagons, circling and circling until someone makes a noise and the band joins in. THEN you get a few more extremists marching to the beat and suddenly, there is a "committee" which is a life form consisting of six or more legs and no brains. The committee then appoints more life forms to make itself bigger (still no brains) and justifies its existence by its very size. Then, its all over but the fat lady singing as the head honcho signs the paper making a "law".

By the time the judicial branch is called into play, the damage is already done. However, I have rarely seen what we could term an "umbrella" law last for long. Consider Prohibition as an example.

One of the major problems with a lot of Americans is that we believe that our government DOES have the power to legislate personal responsibility. OOPs ... say that again? Don't be angry just yet. Think about it. THEN be angry with me, but there is a fundamental truth there.

We believe that we can legislate better medical care: how do we propose to do this? By enacting "tort reform" that puts a $$ limit on what a health care professional's liability INSURANCE company can be hit for if that health care professional performs outside the standard of care and injures someone.

We believe that we can legislate responsible auto ownership and driving by mandating that every person who drives a car has liability INSURANCE to provide for someone injured in an accident. Of course, there are caps on that recovery now, too, per "tort reform".

We believe we can regulate and legislate responsible dog ownership or home ownership by requiring that all homes which have a mortgage against them carry a legislated amount of home owners' INSURANCE which in most states includes a LIABILITY provision to insure the owner and mortgage/lien holder in the event of an injury taking place on the property or an injury being caused by a person or animal resident on the property so insured. This also is impacted by "tort reform".

(does anyone sense a theme here?)

Scratch deeply enough beneath the surface of the laws we are looking at and you are going to find a PAC with an insurance consortium underneath it.

We must all admit another truth: there are a great number of disposable companion animals in the USofA. I don't even pretend to know what the answer is, in a large context. What I do know is that, as a responsible INDIVIDUAL companion animal owner, I DO spay and neuter my animals, and obey the laws that say my animals must be restrained (as best I can with the escape artists I seem to get lucky enough to own). I DO obey the laws about immunization, because I believe there is a fundamental logic to preventing the outbreak of disease.

I also know that, with three exceptions in my lifetime, every animal I have owned has been a rescued or rehomed animal. Do I want another registered or registerable newf? Yes, I do. In fact, some of you may remember that when I rejoined the list, I announced that my search was on for a puppy ... Instead, Abby is here, and keep praying with me that her cycle continues to hold off until April 19th ... because that's the first available date for her spay.

Have I been drug down the street by a newf? you betcha! Zulu punctured the back of my hand on Christmas Eve, and the wounds are not completely healed (probably because scars itch and I scratch) .. so would I be in trouble with the whole "attack" definition? Yes, I would. Do I have an idiot neighbor who throws things at my dogs (Chewy particularly) rather than petting the dog which causes Chewy to bark at him, so he kicks at the fence, which causes Chewy to bark some more, which causes me to come outside and remind the selfsame neighbor that the LAST time he instigated my dogs' barking at him by introducing foreign objects over my fence and then complained because they barked at him HE got cited for animal abuse. I did get a fine for breaking a noise ordinance, but it was nothing compared to what he had to pay. I take VERY nice pictures, both still and video.

Have I had a mail carrier complain about my barking dog making him feel threatened? Yes, I have. Chewy again! Do I have photographic/videographic proof that the jerk walked in my yard everyday shouting into a cell phone headset and would invariably throw something at my dog? Yes I do. Did I get all queasy inside when the post office threatened me with a suit for a dangerous dog? No, I did not. I offered them proof that their employee was disobeying about 30 regulations and abusing the dog, and asked them if they wanted to pay up now, or later. They fired the postal carrier and said they were sorry. When the individual carrier tried to frighten me with a suit for his "wrongful discharge", I said "bring it on, baby" and gave his name to the Animal Control folks who then charged him with animal cruelty based on my videotapes.

Am I a militant pain in the keister? No, not really. I'm quiet and mild and know my rights and responsibilities as a home owner and dog owner. I am an American. I obey the laws, and know my rights under those laws I obey. I have a fence. My dogs are restrained within that fence. If my dog shows a tendency to leap that fence, I put it inside a taller fence, or contrive another physical restraint system. This is not for the protection of my neighbors; rather it is for the protection of my dog. My neighbors are required to keep to THEIR side of my fence and not antagonize my property nor interfere with it in any other way. THAT IS THE LAW. My big stick which I carry as I walk softly is THE LAW.

While I understand the upset engendered by the Louisville Ordinance (truly I do) I suggest that a search of the Kentucky State Codes/Statutes might prove a touch reassuring. The suit being brought to combat the ordinance can only be brought on the power of the STATE's laws. I would rest more comfortably considering that the Commonwealth of Kentucky makes a goodly portion of its income by taxing an industry which involves an animal, pure bred and high-strung, and that its legislators at the statewide level, combined with its judiciary, have more sense than to upset the people who feed it. What do they do to a horse that gets loose? ;) Or cattle who wander through a gap in a fenceline?

Anyway, maybe none of this is to the point, but I do believe strongly in the system of checks and balances, and am pleased to note that there is action being taken to over-rule the committee :) If we can encourage and engender individual responsibility and teach by that example, we may have a greater impact as owners of companion animals.

Bad Legislation for Dogs

Comment 3: This is why it is so critical to STOP these kinds of legislation ***BEFORE*** they are enacted. This means making sure that responsible pet owners show up at all city/county municipal hearings when these laws are being proposed. We were appalled that our local kennel club didn't seem to think it was important enough to show up en masse to a county council meeting to protest the proposed mandatory spay/neuter legislation. Responses ranged from "oh it's no big deal, we'll be able to get an "exception" for show dogs," or "MY dogs never get loose, so it won't affect me" and "I don't live in that county, so it won't affect me" (as if the driving force behind these proposals was going to stop at our county line). Why is it that every single local "rescue" group finds the time to show up IN FAVOR of such regulations? The handful of warm bodies (ours plus a few others) were no match for the 50 screaming "do you know ho horrible it is to put down puppies day in and day out, we must spay/neuter ALL animals, no exceptions!"


Comment 4: Here are just a couple of suggestions for ways to reduce the number of unwanted animals without enacting unreasonable laws and expecting/demanding "exceptions" for ourselves and anyone "we" deem "responsible:"

Make spay/neuter cheap and readily available (some cities sponsor mobile spay/neuter clinics that can go out to the communities).

Enforce existing leash-laws.

Encourage "trap/spay/release" for feral cats (another place where cheap/easily available spay/neuter clinics would be of tremendous value--our local SPCA charges the same as our regular vet!).

Education. Get responsible pet ownership into the elementary school classrooms. Don't use "scare" tactics-- that ridiculous geometric progression chart, while theoretically, mathematically possible, is NOT FACT. If it were, we'd be up to our eyeballs in cats (and dogs).

While the mandatory spay/neuter law was being discussed in our county, we spoke to the local SPCA people about just these kinds of things. What boggled my mind is that the county can't even get LICENSING passed (with higher fees for intact vs spayed/neutered), but they had no trouble at all with mandatory spay/neuter. "I won't let the GOVERNMENT keep track of ME or MY animals, but I'M ok with spaying or neutering some other poor slob's dog who accidentally got loose when the UPS man left the gate open."

How to Mandate Personal Responsibility?

Comment 5: So, once again, we come down to "how do you legislate and/or mandate personal responsibility"?
What you, and I, and most of the people who populate THIS list, the varied breed clubs, etc., are examples of is personal responsibility. We spay/neuter, breed (if at all) after long hard hours of consideration, and worry about every pup until we go nearly crazy with it all. We restrain our dogs for their protection, we train our dogs for their protection and the protection of others, we vaccinate, we fret over foods, we worry over proper grooming. We reach outside our homes to others who find themselves in difficulties and take on their issues as best we can. We rehome dogs, and make sure they don't add to the unwanted population. WE ARE A MINORITY.

However, unless we can establish some sort of "pay-it-forward" principle that we can have flow out from our own back yards into our neighbors' yards and then down the street, the block, the neighborhood, the town, etc., there are going to be people who breed their AKC registered dogs and sell the puppies for all those well-worn reasons: to recoup the initial cost of the dog, to teach their children about birth, etc.

There are also going to be those people who don't bother to spay or neuter unregistered dogs/cats and let random genetic mixes occur. There are also going to be the folks who, after those random events occur, are not "man enough" to take the progeny to the shelter for adoption, but rather dump them on some corner somewhere.

Until and unless there is a way to instill in each INDIVIDUAL a sense of responsibility, there is going to be a need for some type of legislation and control on the "pet population" to try to control the disease and other negatives that stray and feral animals do spread.

It is such a hard thing, particularly here in a country in which the population is made up of a lot of independently minded individuals, who are oftentimes more concerned with their personal freedoms than they are about the consequences of the unresponsible realization of those personal freedoms on the larger society.

There should NOT be breed-specific legislation, because the owners of those breeds should be responsible and honest enough to train their dogs, and if a temperment problem occurs, that individual should be culled in some manner. It should NOT be necessary, but it is -- to the great misfortune of us all.

There should NOT be a mandatory spay/neuter law, because people should not own pets they cannot be responsible to and for, in terms of veterinary care and basic needs being fulfilled.

Mandatory vaccination is for the good of all, and I'll stand behind that one without explanation.

Unfortunately, these things do need to be mandated because people buy or acquire pets without much thought for the future - the whole emotional impulse buy. There is a mind-set among otherwise reasonably intelligent people that to spay or neuter an animal is to deprive them of their "right to choose to reproduce" .. this always amazes me when I encounter it, and I'm here to tell you (there is a post of mine around February 21, 2007) I reach out, convince that individual that dogs are not among the species who have sex for fun and really don't consider their future children, and PAY myself to spay/neuter the dog. My funds are limited for this type of activity, however. I am lucky enough to live in a place where we have a very inexpensive SNIP program endowed with a really nice donation at our Humane Society.

It is a hard thing, truly it is ... to protect the rights of the responsible minority, and balance them against the ignorance and rights of the irresponsible majority.

Dog Laws

Comment 6: You can legislate all you want. But the irresponsible people that cause the problems to begin with will continue on about there business and the responsible people will be penalized. The ONLY thing IMO that will stop the unwanted animal overpopulation is KNOWLEDGE and EDUCATION. I agree that it would be good to start at a young age to begin educating people about responsible dog ownership. Legislation is a VERY DANGEROUS thing. It starts with our dogs and cats then goes from there. Just a quick thought: how about if we start legislating the sterilization of women and men. There are too many poor and undereducated people in this world. There is an overpopulation of people in general and we really must stop it. The medical and educational expenses incurred by society by those that are not responsible for breeding their children is a huge burden on the rest of us and we should put a stop to it. You can compare all the things everyone has said about legislating our pets to someday our own ability to reproduce HUMANS. Be careful what you wish for. There is always someone willing to take things "one step further:" And Breed specific legislation, IMO, is no different than racism in humans. Maybe we should ban persons of a specific ethnic background because they are committing more crimes in an area than other ethnic groups. How obsurd would we think that was. Yet we are doing it to certain breeds. By the way, I want to clarify that I used those things as absurd examples and certainly don't beleive we should begin sterilizing humans. EDUCATION is the ONLY thing that will change our current pet overpopulation. If you've spent anytime doing rescue work, or talking to interested puppy buyers, I'm sure you would agree. The amazingly stupid comments we get from people and the general ignorance is unbelieveable.

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