Urgent Action Needed to Protect California’s SPCAs & Humane OfficersPosted by Stephan Otto, ALDF's Director of Legislative Affairs on June 11, 2010
Update 6/23/10: A number of amendments were agreed to in the Assembly Judiciary Committee yesterday that have improved the bill significantly. One of the more significant changes is that the previous five year waiting period for appointment of humane officers has now been reduced to two years for the most common-level humane officers. Other improvements relating to the incorporation and appointment process occurred as well. We are hopeful that more will follow. Thank you for all of your efforts over the past week in communicating with Assemblymembers about this bill.
SB 1417 recently passed the California Senate and is now before the Assembly Judiciary Committee, with a hearing scheduled for Tuesday, June 22, 2010.
The bill was initiated by Placer County as a result of its long-running dispute – since resolved by the courts – with a local SPCA.
SB 1417 would unnecessarily and severely hamper the formation and operation of SPCA/Humane Societies (SPCAs) across the state, most notably by limiting their ability to appoint humane officers. This bill would force a host of new requirements and adversarial proceedings on SPCAs. Among these is an arbitrary 5-year waiting period before any newly-endorsed SPCA could appoint any humane officer to investigate and enforce California’s animal protection laws – even where a potential humane officer had completed all requirements, training and background checks.
In California, SPCAs are special non-profit corporations who must fulfill certain requirements and receive an endorsement by a court or the State Department of Justice before they may begin operations. SPCAs often provide critical shelter facilities and educational programs, and some SPCAs appoint trained humane officers to help investigate animal abuse and neglect. Not only are these humane officers responsible for the protection of animals, they are also required reporters of child abuse.
Estimates place California’s population of companion animals alone at more than 7.5 million. There is a great need for far more humane officers and SPCAs, not fewer. ALDF believes the state’s policies should encourage the formation of SPCAs, not thwart them. Yet SB 1417 would stymie new SPCAs and humane officers, thereby keeping the burden and cost of enforcing the state’s animal protection laws solely on local governments – local governments already facing tremendous pressures on their limited resources.
SB 1417 is an unneeded remedy in search of a problem. The current system already provides adequate, multiple layers of oversight by the judicial system which have proven effective. Its enactment would accomplish nothing more than to add to the taxpayer’s weight of enforcing California’s animal protection laws.
Critical Action Needed Today!
California residents: Please contact your Assemblymember and all members of the Assembly Judiciary Committee respectfully urging them to vote in the best interests of California’s animals by opposing SB 1417 unless, at a minimum, its unnecessary and arbitrary 5-year waiting period on the appointment of new humane officers is removed.
Assembly Committee on Judiciary
Mike Feuer – Chair
Van Tran – Vice Chair
William W. Monning