-- Permission to cross post granted --
California AB 1634 was "gut amended" 3 weeks ago into a different bill from
the one that passed the state Assembly last year. Rather than a broad
sterilization mandate on all owned dogs and cats, with limited specified
exceptions, the bill now targets dogs and cats who are subject to
"complaints" and impoundments for other reasons. On the third such
infraction, a dog would need to be sterilized. On the surface, this makes
the bill acceptable, focusing on irresponsible pet owners and leaving the
rest of us alone. The devil is in the details though, and unfortunately as
written AB 1634 is not limited in this way.
In his testimony before the Senate Local Government Committee,
Assemblymember Levine repeatedly compared what AB 1634 would do to a seat
belt law in establishing a secondary offense. Not wearing a seat belt is
illegal, but one will not be cited for it unless stopped for another
traffic infraction, the primary offense. Just as the seat belt law made
not wearing a seat belt illegal, AB 1634 makes owning an intact dog or cat
illegal, no exceptions.
You might imagine that there is no problem with this, just keep your dog
out of trouble with animal control, and AB 1634 won't be enforced against
you. Unfortunately, as Mr. Levine repeatedly stated in his testimony, the
primary offense of a "complaint" against a dog or cat need not be valid or
upheld to trigger penalties for the secondary offense. The complaints
could come from a malicious ex-spouse or neighbor. The secondary offense
penalties will also be triggered by impoundments subsequent to severe
traffic accidents, natural disaster, or a contractor or cleaning service
inadvertently allowing your dog to escape from your property. Many of us
suggested amendments to AB 1634 to insure that only irresponsible pet
owners would be targeted, adding Constitutional due process protections
lacking in the bill, but Mr. Levine ignored all suggestions.
AB 1634 passed the California Senate Local Government Comittee on June 25,
by a party line vote. It will be heard by the Senate Appropriations
Committee on July 14, next Monday. If it passes there, it will be voted on
in the full California state Senate. If it passes there, it would go on
back to the Assembly for a concurrence vote and then on to the Governor.
Experience shows that only a massive letter writing campaign can slow this
bill down. We are asking all California dog and cat owners to write to the
Senate Appropriations Committee and their state senator to oppose this
bill Compelling arguments, in and of themselves, have proven ineffective
in a political environment poisoned by partisan politics.
The Appropriations Committee responds specifically to fiscal
arguments. With the state facing a $15 billion deficit, anything that
increases spending may die in the Appropriations Committee at this
time. This is our best chance to stop this bill.
The easiest way for Californians to send AB 1634 opposition letters is with
the NAIA's capwiz. It only takes a few minutes. The system is set up with
text you can choose from, or your can write your own. Your letter will be
sent to all members of the Senate Appropriations Committee.
The letter that Save Our Dogs sent to the Senate Appropriations Committee
is here. It contains specific fiscal arguments.