Thursday, June 26, 2008

AB 1634 Approved by California Senate Local Government Committee

An amended version of AB 1634 was passed through the Senate Local Government Committee yesterday with a 3-2 vote. The original bill required spaying and neutering of most pets in the state, with many common sense exceptions (similar to the ordinance we approved earlier this year here in Los Angeles). The bill now specifically targets dogs and cats who are the subject of complaints to animal control, fine-tuning enforcement, spay/neuter and penalty requirements.

Although the amended version of the bill does not go as far on spay/neuter as the previous version, supporters feel it certainly is a step forward for the state as a whole. Keep in mind that there are parts of California where the shelter kill rates approach 80% and the local political dynamics seem certain to prevent the passage of an ordinance even half as strong as what we now have in Los Angeles. Taking this big picture into account, and noting the enormous fiscal and emotional toll such kill rates take on both animals and people in California, even a small step in the right direction can be a big step.

Thanks are due to both Senator Gloria Negrete-McLeod and Assemblymember Lloyd Levine for working together to find common ground and allow this important bill to continue its journey towards law.

While having undergone significant changes as it moved through the legislative process, AB 1634 remains an important tool to help reduce the escalating cost of animal control in cities and counties throughout the State of California. This legislation will also alleviate some of the emotional distress caused by pet overpopulation.

AB 1634 now provides local animal control agencies useful discretion to resolve many of the vexing animal related problems we face and, for the first time, allows the local agency under certain circumstances to require the sterilization of animals being redeemed from public shelters by their owners.

The vast majority of the animal complaints we receive involve intact animals, including serious bites and attacks. AB 1634 has been transformed into a more finely tuned response that will help us target those animals that are clearly and indisputably a problem in our communities.

AB 1634 wisely allocates any funds collected under this law to be expended for the purpose of humane education and programs for low-cost spaying and neutering of dogs and cats.

The current version of the bill is a compromise, hand-crafted in the true political sense to provide some measure of relief from the pet population crisis in our communities without infringing on legitimate, responsible commerce, hobby breeding and pet ownership. Author Lloyd Levine believes it will prove to be the foundation for more statewide spay/neuter reforms in the future, and after a year-and-a-half of hard, often frustrating work, that’s progress.