California Assembly Votes to Defeat Pet Responsibility Act

Posted by Stephanie Ulmer, Guest Blogger on September 10, 2010

SB 250 "Pet Responsibility Act" Fails to Garner Enough Votes to Pass CA Assembly — Would have Required Spaying and Neutering for Unlicensed, Impounded Pets

On August 31, 2010, the California Assembly voted to defeat SB 250, the "Pet Responsibility Act," ending longstanding efforts to pass the law, at least for the rest of this legislative session. SB 250 would have required owners of unlicensed dogs to spay or neuter their dog if the dog was impounded, and would have prohibited cat owners from allowing their unsterilized felines to stray. The American Kennel Club, along with some breeders and those who show cats and dogs, had argued that the law would have impeded their ability to breed their animals. But barring owner irresponsibility for repeated animal control violations, the measure would not have affected licensed dogs. The bill also includes exceptions for certain circumstances, such as health or medical reasons.

The Assembly’s final vote was 28-40. The bill needed 41 votes for passage. An earlier vote taken on August 26th had garnered 34 votes in favor. In August 2009, the bill also failed to pass the Assembly. SB 250 had, however, passed the Senate. Just prior to this last vote, SB 250 sponsor Judy Mancuso, president of Social Compassion in Legislation, urged supporters to ask their Assemblymembers to vote in favor of the bill:

There are many jurisdictions in our state that spend more money on animal control then on veteran’s affairs or libraries. This is just wrong. This is government waste at its worst. I’m sure all of you can imagine better places to put this money than into housing and killing pets! It’s simply a disgrace.

We bring nearly 1,000,000 dogs and cats into our shelters and kill over half of them, which costs our state over a quarter of a billion dollars per year. I know these numbers are huge, and maybe hard to grasp and really understand… but please try to reflect for one moment how enormous this is and how cruel and wasteful… and we, California taxpayers are flipping the bill.

Here is how SB 250 will help reduce this out-of-control problem:

1. Prevent unwanted litters — SB 250 does this by requiring stray dogs to be spayed or neutered (An unlicensed, unaltered, roaming dog is considered a stray).

2. Helps dogs get back home — SB 250 does this by promoting dog licensing – if you want to keep your dog unaltered, all you need to do is license it… which dog owners should be doing already; dog licensing has been state law since 1933.

Right now in California only 21% of the dogs are licensed, this is bad for two big reasons:

a. Unlicensed dogs have much less chance of finding their way back home if they are impounded.

b. Licensing generates revenue to run the shelters, and budgets have been slashed to unreasonable amounts.

3. Spay and neuter your household roaming cat. And if you want to keep your cat unaltered, keep it inside or an enclosed outdoor area…

ALDF strongly supported SB 250 and sent out alerts asking Californians to contact their legislators to vote for it. The bill was further supported by a number of other animal advocacy groups, government entities and animal shelter operations seeking to reduce the number of preventable animal deaths due to pet overpopulation. “SB 250 was based on successful laws in Santa Cruz and New York City,” noted Stephan Otto, ALDF’s director of legislative affairs. “It provided a reasonable, fiscally-responsible step towards reducing pet overpopulation in California. While it did not ultimately succeed this year, we must continue working to stem this ongoing travesty.”

It appears that the fight to bring these much-needed protections to the animals is to be continued… again…next year.


2 thoughts on “California Assembly Votes to Defeat Pet Responsibility Act

  1. ariana says:

    I adopted my dog from a local shelter and they wouldn’t release her until they performed a spay. The spay that they did was botched– they left 1 inch of her uterus behind, which caused her to get sick. The county refused to pay for her surgery to remove the remaining uterine tissue, and now we have to file a suit against the county.

    As an animal lover, this has been incredibly frustrating. I am torn between wanting to speak out about the negligence on part of the shelter and the county, but don’t want people to NOT adopt from shelters. My advice, don’t get your pet spayed/neutered at a shelter. GO TO A VET YOU TRUST.

  2. Mary Ann Hall says:

    Unfortunately, the proponents of spay/neuter don’t consider the adverse health consequences when performed on immature animals & those with stressed immune systems. Generally, the animals in a shelter are in poor physical condition & are subject to, in the case of a bitch or a queen, major abdominal surgery. This is a bad system made worse for the animals. The surgery are performed like an auto assembly-line with little to no medical care. Patting oneself on the back for hitting a target number on spays/neuter does not necessarily benefit the individual animal.