Thursday, May 17, 2007

Three Reasons to Support AB 1634

Assembly Bill 1634 – The California Healthy Pets Act – continued on its path to the Governor’s desk Wednesday, May 16th when it was passed by the Assembly Appropriations Committee on a B roll call vote.

AB 1634 is designed to serve as a significant tool in helping end the incalculable suffering of lost and homeless dogs and cats in the State of California.

There are many reasons for supporting AB 1634. I want to highlight just three:

1. Public Health: According to the American and California Veterinary Medical Associations, dogs and cats have many transmitted diseases, many of which are fatal and some are potentially contagious to humans. Spayed and neutered pets are rarely exposed to these diseases.

The number one killer of cats and dogs, after euthanasia, is cancer. Spaying and neutering can prevent most of these deaths. Medical research shows that spayed and neutered cats and dogs live longer and healthier lives. For these and many other reasons, the American Veterinary Medical Association recommends early spaying and neutering because younger animals recover faster and with less pain.

This modest one time expense can save an incalculable amount of money in veterinary care as well as all the heartache resulting from unnecessary illnesses over the life of an animal.

2. Public Safety: Spaying and neutering reduces the dangers caused by roaming stray animals, the transmission of rabies, and injuries from dog and cat bites. Over 30,000 dog and cat bites are reported in California annually. Over 23,000 involve dogs. Unaltered dogs are three times more likely to attack humans and other pets.

According to the Center for Disease Control, California has the highest occurrence of dog bites, animal attacks and attack-related fatalities in the nation -- and children are the most common victims. In fact, 50% of all children are bitten by a dog or cat by age 12 according to the CDC. People over 70 years of age comprise 10% of all dog bite victims and represent 20% of those killed by dogs. 75% of all dog bites, attacks and fatalities involve intact male dogs.

The insurance industry estimates it pays more than $1 billion each year in homeowners’ liability claims resulting from dog bites. Hospital expenses for dog bite-related emergency visits are estimated at $102.4 million. There are also medical insurance claims, workmen’s compensation claims, lost wages, and sick leave and other associated business costs that have not been calculated.

3. Fiscal Responsibility: In 1998 the State enacted the Animal Shelter Law, SB 1785, commonly called “The Hayden Bill”. Since its enactment the provisions of the Hayden Bill have generated the third largest reimbursable fiscal mandate in the state. To date the Hayden Bill has cost the state $121.6 M and is conservatively growing at a rate of $30M a year.

In order to meet the requirements of the Hayden Bill to hold animals for longer periods of time and provide more medical services to treatable animals, the City of Los Angeles allocated $160 million to build seven animal shelters with medical clinics just to manage the crushing number of lost and homeless animals rescued by LA Animal Services every year - over 50,000 animals. To further meet the requirements of the Hayden Bill the City Council had to increase Animal Services’ budget by 36% over the past six years, with a 28% increase this year alone.

The lesson we have learned from the Hayden Bill is that addressing the pet overpopulation problem from the back end is expensive. Warehousing thousands of animals for longer periods of time in costly mega shelters is not a viable long-term solution. It is very much like trying to mop up a flooded basement without first fixing the broken water pipe. The water keeps pouring in despite our best efforts to mop it up. To not support AB 1634 gives new meaning to penny wise and (dog) pound foolish!

Albert Einstein defined insanity as doing the same thing over and over again expecting different results. AB 1634 provides an elegant response for ending the insanity of escalating budgets and escalating body counts. AB 1634 will help us fix the broken water pipe.

Please call and write your state representative and ask him/her to support AB 1634.

For more information on this important initiative visit: