California sees spate of legislative activity

In the past few weeks, legal activity in California has potentially affected the lives of many companion animals.

Mandatory spay-neuter bill fails
Senate Bill 250 was defeated by the State Assembly by a vote of 28-42. The bill would have required the mandatory spaying and neutering of cats and dogs kept as pets in California, with some exceptions. Cats kept outside would need to be spayed or neutered, and all dogs would have to be spayed or neutered unless a special license was acquired by the owner.

The bill was introduced in February by state Sen. Dean Florez, with the goal of increasing owner responsibility and reducing the cost of euthanizing animals in the state.

The bill was opposed by groups such as the American Kennel Club and Concerned Dog Owners of California, and eventually failed before the Assembly. The measure was placed on the inactive file but will be reconsidered in January 2010.

Commercial breeder regulation moves ahead
Assembly Bill 241, the Responsible Breeder Act, deals with the commercial breeding of dogs and cats. According to the bill, no person or business entity in California can have more than a combined total of 50 adult unsterilized dogs and cats for breeding or raising them for sale as pets. The bill would make it a misdemeanor to violate this provision. Animal shelters, veterinary facilities and research facilities are exempt from this bill.

People or businesses that are over the limit would have to spay or neuter the excess animals or sell, transfer or relinquish the animals within 30 days following notification by authorities. If deemed necessary, euthanasia would need to be performed by a California licensed veterinarian or other person to perform euthanasia.

The bill passed the Assembly by a vote of 59-17, and will now be proofread and delivered to Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger.

Budget cuts reduce shelter grace period
With a budget deficit in the billions of dollars, California has had to try and find ways to cut costs. According to the San Francisco Chronicle, a compromise between Gov. Schwarzenegger and the state Legislature to reduce the deficit will shorten the holding period at animal shelters.

According to the San Francisco Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (SPCA), the compromise would change existing legislation – known as the Hayden bill or the Animal Adoption Mandate – and shorten the holding period for stray animals from six days to three days. That means that animals that are brought to a shelter and not claimed within three days could legally be euthanized by the shelter.

NEWStat Legislation & regulation