Urgent Action Needed to Protect California’s SPCAs & Humane Officers

Posted 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
(916) 319-2042

Van Tran – Vice Chair
(916) 319-2068

Julia Brownley
(916) 319-2041

Noreen Evans
(916) 319-2007

Curt Hagman
(916) 319-2060

Dave Jones
(916) 319-2009

Steve Knight
(916) 319-2036

William W. Monning
(916) 319-2027

Pedro Nava
(916) 319-2035

8 thoughts on “Urgent Action Needed to Protect California’s SPCAs & Humane Officers

  1. Anne Ramsey says:

    It would be a tremendous help if you could design your website so viewers could easily click in an area which would require necessary information to sign a petition i.e., name. address, city, state, etc. that is automatically programmed to go to their representative in their district (or whatever bureaucrat needs to be petitioned). This would eliminate the viewer from having to locate their district and then petitioning their respective representative which involves too much time. Unfortunately, viewer’s attention much be captured and a response elicited within a few minutes in order to participate in giving responses such as petitions. The area to be clicked must be prevalent on your web page in bold, colorful letters which stand out to capture the viewers attention. Just a thought. Hope it helps.

  2. Anne Ramsey says:

    I neglected to mention in my previous comment that a pre-written form letter would be available for the viewers to use that would be sent at the time the viewer clicked on your website to petition your causes. Thanks.

  3. Katie Cather says:

    Thanks to ALDF for opposing this most illogical and horrific legislation. We work like the dickens to pass Prop 2, and now that animal services are being cut throughout the state, they want to make it cumbersome to both form a humane society and appoint an officer. Are the supporters of SB 1417 for the factory farm animal abusers (battery cages, gestation crates, etc.)? By making it difficult for humane societies, there will be fewer and fewer. Factory farms and other animal problem issues (rodeos, circuses) will be smiling all the way to the bank if SB 1417 passes.

  4. Teresa Smythe says:

    Those are excellent questions Katie and should be posed to all of the supporters (State Humane Association, HSUS, ASPCA, etc.) of this awful bill.

  5. Janet says:

    Why on earth are the big guns supporting this? Has anyone contacted Jennifer Fearing at HSUS to ask why? I will.

  6. Nichole says:

    Seems to me that the process worked just fine. Sheriff had a question about notification but according to the supporters statement in the analysis, it was all cleared up after 2.5 years. So, what’s the problem?

    It seems a funny thing happened on the way to clearing up the “ambiguities” on this bill. The supporters statements appear to be ambiguous. That approach always leads me to believe someone is trying to hide something.

    Another (not-so) funny thing seems to be two giant animal welfare organizations might be on the wrong side.

    Here’s my question: It says State Humane Association of California “in its official capacity….” I looked at their website. What official capacity (other than self-proclaimed) does a private membership organization have in a governmental process?

    If it looks like a turf war and walks like a turf war, guess what folks.

  7. Nichole says:

    Janet– please report back on your conversation with Ms. Fearing. As a donor to HSUS (I strongly supported Prop 2 both financially and physically) I’m starting to feel like my money went to line executive pockets and my energy to get signatures on the initiative was all for not. HSUS gets to walk away patting themselves on the back but obviously not thinking through or caring about WHO will enforce Prop 2. We need more not less people to enforce the laws we work so hard to get enacted.

  8. Janet says:

    Okay, after getting other input, all I can say is…have patience. There are valid reasons for some groups to be on the support side. That’s politics, and everything can change from day to day. What comes out at the end is what matters, and in this case, the bill is already a whole lot better than it started out. It may get even better. No need to condemn other groups or activists…it’s a process that is still unfolding. We are still all on the same side, just swimming divergent streams at times.

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