Urgent California Dog Owners Alert!
Economic ‘Armageddon’ Overshadows Assembly Hearing
Tuesday On Statewide Spay/Neuter Bill That Will Result
In Deadly Disaster For Dogs, Jobs, Businesses And People
by JOHN YATES
American sporting Dog Alliance
This report is archived at http://eaglerock814.proboards.com/index.cgi?action=display&board=general&thread=48
SACRAMENTO, CA – (June 28, 2009) – A Tuesday hearing has been scheduled before the Assembly Committee on Business and Professions on Senate Bill 250, which would result in the forced sterilization of millions of dogs and cats in California, and lead to the abandonment and euthanasia of possibly hundreds of thousands of family pets that now have good homes.
SB 250, which shocked dog owners by passing the Senate by a 21-16 margin on June 2, comes at a time when California’s economy has been described as “economic Armageddon.” Immediate action by dog owners is required to stop this economic disaster zone from causing the death of many beloved companion animals.
There is a strong message in the California situation for residents of every other state that is considering animal rights legislation that would place further burdens on already beleaguered pet owners. What’s happening in California mirrors what is happening all across the country to a somewhat lesser degree.
In California, the official unemployment rate has soared to 11.5-percent, real unemployment is estimated at 20-percent, home foreclosures and business failures are the highest in the nation and approach Great Depression levels, state government is facing an immediate $24.3 billion budget deficit and is planning to pay its bills with IOU’s, and essential services are being decimated. Some communities already have been forced to eliminate fire protection, cut their police forces, shutter services and close schools. In addition, more than $15 billion in tax increases are being proposed, massive layoffs of state and municipal employees are planned, an energy tax alone would result in the loss of an estimated 10,000 jobs, prisoners would be dumped in the streets and most would no longer have probationary supervision, and elderly, disabled and blind people would lose $1.4 billion is state benefits, programs to help them remain in their homes, and protections that now allow them to save their homes from tax sales. The state’s future will be mortgaged by $10.3 billion in loans to keep government afloat and by the deterioration of infrastructure such as roads and bridges.
“Our wallet is empty, our bank is closed, and our credit is dried up,” California Governor Arnold Schwarznegger said last week.
Yet the California Legislature is recklessly speeding toward passing SB 250, which will add immeasureably to those economic problems and create disaster for people and animals on many levels, in spite of a clear warning by the state Department of Finance.
Here is the conclusion of the Department of Finance: “This bill would result in a substantial increase to the General Fund…to reimburse local government shelters’ cost to care for impounded animals. Given the current economic climate, requiring the owners of dogs and cats to pay for sterilization procedures would result in more animals being abandoned or surrendered because of the owners’ inability to finance the sterilization procedure and pay additional fines.”
That means millions more healthy and adoptable animals will be euthanized at animal shelters that are already swamped by dogs and cats that had to be abandoned by their owners due to home foreclosures and job losses. When people lose their homes, pets become homeless, too. When people lose their jobs, they cannot afford to sterilize animals or even take care of them in many cases. The inevitable result is a rapid increase in abandonment and euthanasia at animal shelters.
Such is the murderous intent of the animal rights movement, which seeks to gradually eliminate animals from American life. Its immediate goal is to force people to sterilize or euthanize as many dogs and cats as possible, and SB 250 was written for this reason. Our research has clearly documented that spay/neuter mandates in Los Angeles, other California communities and elsewhere have bankrupted animal control programs and led to large-scale pet abandonment and rapid rises in shelter euthanasia rates. Our research shows a 30-percent increase in shelter euthanasia and a 20-percent increase in admission rates since the Los Angeles ordinance was passed a year ago.
The statewide consequences are inevitable if SB 250 becomes law.
The American Sporting Dog Alliance is urging all California dog owners to take immediate action to stop SB 250, which will have tragic results for people and animals, and represents fiscal insanity by the Legislature in the current failing economy. Suggestions on how to take action will follow later in this report.
We understand that California dog owners are facing exhaustion after spending two years in a grueling fight to defeat AB 1634 last year. Because of this exhaustion and frustration, participation by dog owners in the fight against the current 2009 legislation has fallen off sharply. People are growing tired of constantly having to fight to save their animals and preserve their rights.
However, we must emphasize that withdrawing from this fight is not an option if we want to save the animals that we love. If we stop fighting, many of our dogs and can’s will pay the price with their lives. We cannot allow that to happen.
The Consequences Of SB 250
The Department of Finance report to the Legislature concluded that “the Department of Finance is opposed to this measure because it would increase costs for an existing state-mandated local program, potentially create a new state mandated local program, and result in General Fund costs that are not included in the 2009-10 Budget Act. Mandatory spay and neuter provisions have failed throughout California at the local government level.”
Here our some of the consequences that would follow passage of SB 250, and our analysis of their impacts on people and dogs because of issues that are listed in the Finance Department report and the legislation itself (Some amendments have been promised, but they fall far short of meeting the concerns of both dog owners and taxpayers. We will note the amendments that have been promised.):
- In almost all cases, it will be illegal to own a dog or cat in California that is not spayed or neutered. In this economy, even many people who want to comply with this law could not afford to do so. In many places, sterilization can cost hundreds of dollars, and low-cost programs are not accessible to most low-income Californians. If people try to hide their pets from the law, they face the eventual probability of high fines and the possibility that their pets will be confiscated (they cannot be retrieved from an animal shelter without being in compliance, which is de facto confiscation). Many pets will be abandoned or taken to shelters, where they will die.
- Only dogs that have an “intact permit” would be exempted from sterilization, and counties would not be required to provide these permits. Thus, in some counties, all dogs and cats would have to be sterilized at the medically unsafe age of six months. Since communities that now require intact permits often charge more than $100 per dog, most poor and low-income people could not afford them, as well as many economically stressed people in higher income brackets who are suffering from the severe recession. In addition, the per-dog permit costs would add up to an insurmountable burden for anyone who raises dogs.
- Current law imposes fines for people whose intact animals are reclaimed from animal shelters. This fine revenue is used to pay for essential shelter expenses. SB 250 would take away much of this revenue from animal shelters, thus reducing needed services while increasing expenses, according to the Finance Department report.
- If you or your intact dog are in violation of any state or local animal law or ordinance, including sales tax laws, you will be forced to sterilize your pets or allow the shelter to confiscate them. In addition, it will be illegal to sell or even give away an intact dog without an intact permit and other documentation (including microchipping), and people who can’t pay the costs of sterilization, fines or other costs will be forced to either abandon their pets or take them to shelters.
- Mandating a medical procedure like sterilization as a punishment for breaking a law violates the professional integrity and Code of Ethics of veterinarians. Medical decisions should be a joint decision between veterinarians and pet owners. SB 250 also would make many people afraid to take their dog to a veterinarian for treatment of illnesses, injuries and parasites, or to get needed rabies and other vaccinations, because they fear being discovered by animal control authorities for owning an intact dog without a permit.
- Establishes the legally dangerous definition of a “custodian” of a dog, instead of the status of “owner.” Here is the definition: “ ‘Custodian’ means any person who undertakes the personal care and control of a dog, or any person who intentionally provides care, security, or sustenance for a dog on the person’s property for any period exceeding 30 days.” This definition would entrap professional trainers, handlers and board kennel operators, people who help lost or abandoned dogs, and people who help feral cats. Good Samaritans who help abandoned or lost dogs, or who help feral cats, would become legally liable for them after 30 days, and thus forced to sterilize or abandon them. This would cause many people to be afraid to help these animals, further increase shelter admissions and euthanasia rates, and cause many lost animals to die from starvation or exposure to the elements.
- Nothing in the legislation would exclude or protect out-of-state residents who are visiting California for shows, field trials, hunting, events, vacations or business. Thus, it would be dangerous for a nonresident to bring an intact dog into California for any reason. This would destroy an important part of California’s economy, as nonresidents with dogs spend billions of dollars a year in the state.
- A reduction in the number of privately owned pets will do further harm the economy, as billions of dollars are spent every year on pet food, supplies, medicines, veterinary care, pet care services, building materials, printing and advertising, and pet-related travel. The California economy cannot afford to lose this business and the jobs that depend on them, and government revenues will decline from the loss of taxes on these products and services.
- The current bill requires sterilization for any dog that is found to be “roaming at large,” which is not defined, or if the dog or its owner has violated any state law, municipal ordinance, or “other local government provision” regarding animal control or care. It excludes dogs while actually hunting, but does not exclude dogs that are being used for herding or performance or working events, dogs that are participating in field trials, farm and ranch dogs, dogs that get lost while hunting or at a field trial, or dogs that are being trained for hunting. There are promises of an amendment to require sterilization after the second offense for roaming at large, and also an exclusion for herding and working dogs, but sterilization still would be required after the first offense for all dogs for any other animal-related law or ordinance. This is far short of adequate protection for dogs or their owners.
- And dog owners will be denied basic state and California constitutional rights about fair and equal treatment under the law. Orders and hearings would be handled administratively, and not through the court. There would be no appeal. This violates constitutional protections of due process under the law, and severely impacts the legal concept of private property.
Please read this legislation at http://www.leginfo.ca.gov/pub/09-10/bill/sen/sb_0201-0250/sb_250_bill_20090528_amended_sen_v95.html.
What You Can Do About It
The American Sporting Dog Alliance is urging all Californians to immediately contact members of the Assembly Committee on Business and Professionals and express clear and strong opposition to both SB 250 AND its amended version (legislators are being misled into believing dog owners support the amended version, which is an outright lie).
Please phone or email the members of this committee before Tuesday’s hearing at 9 a.m. in Room 447 at the Capitol. If you also can attend this hearing, please do. Numbers matter a lot!
Here is committee contact information:
Mary Hayashi – Chair
Bill Emmerson – Vice Chair
Edward P. Hernandez
John A. Pérez
In addition, please be prepared to act quickly in the event that this legislation is approved by the committee and is sent to the Assembly floor for a hurry-up vote before the Legislature adjourns for summer recess on July 17. If it passes the Assembly, it will be sent to the Governor to be signed into law.
Please be prepared to write immediately to your Assembly representative. Here is a link to each Assembly member’s contact information: http://www.assembly.ca.gov/clerk/MEMBERINFORMATION/memberdir_1.asp
Above all, please pass this information along to all of your friends and contacts. We need everyone’s help, or we will lose this important fight with animal rights extremism and fiscally irresponsible public officials who lack compassion and concern for their constituents.
For the sake of our dogs, and for all of the people in California, please don’t remain on the sidelines of this critical battle to save the lives of our dogs, the rights of their owners, and a big chunk of what’s left of the rapidly shrinking economy of the state.
The American Sporting Dog Alliance represents owners, breeders and professionals who work with breeds of dogs that are used for hunting. We also welcome people who work with other breeds, as legislative issues affect all of us. We are a grassroots movement working to protect the rights of dog owners, and to assure that the traditional relationships between dogs and humans maintains its rightful place in American society and life. The American Sporting Dog Alliance also needs your help so that we can continue to work to protect the rights of dog owners. Your membership, participation and support are truly essential to the success of our mission. We are funded solely by your donations in order to maintain strict independence.
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