BILL ANALYSIS                                                                                                                                                                                                    



                                                                  AB 670
                                                                  Page  1

          Date of Hearing:   March 27, 2007
          Counsel:        Kathleen Ragan


                         ASSEMBLY COMMITTEE ON PUBLIC SAFETY
                                 Jose Solorio, Chair

                 AB 670 (Spitzer) - As Introduced:  February 21, 2007
                       As Proposed to be Amended in Committee
           

          SUMMARY  :   Requires that a person who owns or has custody or  
          control of an animal and knows or has reason to know that the  
          animal bit another person to provide specified personal  
          identifying information to that other person.  Specifically,  
           this bill  :  

          1)Requires the person who owns or has custody or control of the  
            animal to immediately provide the other person with his or her  
            name, address, telephone number and the name, breed, and  
            license tag number of the animal who bit the other person.

          2)States that if the animal is required by law to be vaccinated  
            against rabies, the person owning or having custody or control  
            of the animal shall, within 48 hours of the bite, provide the  
            other person with information regarding the status of the  
            animal's vaccinations.

          3)Provides that a violation of this section is a misdemeanor  
            punishable by imprisonment in the county jail not exceeding  
            six months.

          4)States that, for the purposes of this section, it is necessary  
            for the skin of the person to be broken or punctured by the  
            animal for the contact to be classified as a "bite".

           EXISTING LAW  :

          1)Provides that every dog owner, after his or her dog reaches  
            the age of four months, shall, no less than once every two  
            years, secure a license for the dog as provided for by the  
            ordinance of the responsible city, county, city and county, or  
            county.  [Health and Safety Code (HSC) Section 121690(a).]

          2)Provides that every dog owner, after his or her dog reaches  








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            the age of four months, shall, at intervals not more often  
            than once per year as prescribed by the Department [of Public  
            Health], procure its vaccination by a licensed veterinarian  
            with a canine anti-rabies vaccine approved by, and in a  
            manner, prescribed by the Department.  [HSC Section  
            121690(b).]

          3)Provides that nothing shall authorize the bringing of an  
            action pursuant to this law based on a bite or bites inflicted  
            upon a trespasser, upon a person who has provoked the dog or  
            contributed to his or her own injuries, or by a dog used in  
            military or police work if the bites occurred while the dog  
            was actually performing in that capacity.  Defines  
            "provocation" as including, but not limited to, situations  
            where a dog is held on a leash by its owner or custodian  
            reacts in a protective manner to a person or persons who  
            approach the owner or custodian in a threatening manner.   
            [Penal Code Section 399.5(c).]

          4)States that if any person owning or having custody and control  
            of a mischievous animal, knowing its propensities, willfully  
            suffers the animal to go at large, or keeps the animal without  
            ordinary care, and the animal, while at large or while not  
            kept with ordinary care, kills any human being who has taken  
            all precautions that the circumstances permitted or which a  
            reasonable person would ordinarily take in a similar  
            situation, is guilty of a felony.  [Penal Code Section  
            399(a).]

          5)Provides that if any person owning or having custody of a  
            mischievous animal, knowing its propensities, willfully  
            suffers it to go at large, or keeps the animal without  
            ordinary care, and the animal, while at large or while not  
            kept with ordinary care, causes serious bodily injury to any  
            human being who has taken all the precautions that  
            circumstances permitted, or which a reasonable person would  
            ordinarily take in the same situation, is guilty of a  
            misdemeanor or a felony.  [Penal Code Section 399(b).]

          6)Provides that any person owning or having custody or control  
            of a dog trained to fight, attack, or kill is guilty of an  
            alternate misdemeanor/felony, punishable by imprisonment in  
            the state prison for two, three or four years; in the county  
            jail not to exceed one year; by a fine not exceeding $10,000;  
            or by both such fine and imprisonment if, as a result of the  








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            person's failure to exercise ordinary care, the dog bites a  
            human being on two separate occasions or on one occasion  
            causing substantial physical injury.  States that no person  
            shall be criminally liable under this section unless he or she  
            knew or reasonably should have known of the vicious and  
            dangerous nature of the dog, or if the victim failed to take  
            all the precautions that a reasonable person would ordinarily  
            take in the same situation.  [Penal Code Section 399.5(a).]

          7)States that following a conviction under this section, a court  
            shall hold a hearing to determine whether conditions of the  
            treatment or confinement of the dog or other circumstances  
            existing at the time of the bite or bites have changed so as  
            to remove the danger to other persons presented by the animal.  
             Provides that the court, after the hearing, may make any  
            order it deems appropriate to prevent the recurrence of such  
            an incident including, but not limited to, the removal of the  
            animal from the area or destruction if necessary.  [Penal Code  
            Section 399.5(b).]

          8)States that nothing in this section shall be construed to  
            affect the liability of the owner of a dog under Penal Code  
            Section 399 or any other provision of law.  [Penal Code  
            Section 399.5(d).]

          9)States that this section shall not apply to a veterinarian or  
            an on-duty animal control officer while in the performance of  
            his or her duties or to a peace officer, as defined, if he or  
            she is assigned to a canine unit.  [Penal Code Section  
            399.5(e).]

          10)Requires each city, county, and city and county to provide  
            dog vaccination clinics, or to arrange for dog vaccination at  
            clinics operated by veterinary groups or associations, held at  
            strategic locations throughout each city, county, and city and  
            county.  Specifies that no charge in excess of the actual cost  
            shall be made for any one vaccination at a clinic.  [HSC  
            Section 121690(f).]

          11)Provides that it is a misdemeanor for any person to willfully  
            conceal information about the location or ownership of an  
            animal . . . that has bitten or otherwise exposed a person to  
            rabies.  (HSC Section 121705.)

          12)States that notwithstanding any other provisions, a guide dog  








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            serving a blind master shall not be quarantined in the absence  
            of evidence that he or she has been exposed to rabies, except  
            as specified.  (HSC Section 121680.)

          13)Provides that notwithstanding any other provision, a dog used  
            by any specified law enforcement agency shall not be  
            quarantined after biting a person if the bite occurred while  
            the dog was being used for any law enforcement purpose.  (HSC  
            Section 121685.)

          14)Allows cities and counties to enact an ordinance that  
            provides for the issuance of a license for a period not to  
            exceed three years for dogs who are 12 months of age or older  
            and have been vaccinated against rabies.  States that a  
            license shall not extend beyond the period of the validity of  
            the current rabies vaccination.  [HSC Section 121690(g).]

          15)Specifies that all information obtained from a dog owner is  
            confidential to the dog owner and proprietary to the  
            veterinarian.  This information shall not be used or  
            distributed for any purpose except to ensure compliance with  
            existing federal, state, county, or city laws or regulations.   
            [HSC Section 121690(h).]

          16)Allows cities and counties to enact more stringent  
            requirements in the exercise of their police power.  [HSC  
            Section 121695.]

          17)States that any person who willfully conceals information  
            about the location or ownership of an animal subject to rabies  
            that has bitten or otherwise exposed a person to rabies, with  
            the intent to prevent the quarantine or isolation of that  
            animal by the local health officer, is guilty of a  
            misdemeanor.  (HSC Section 121705.)

          18)Provides that except as otherwise provided, every person who  
            possesses an animal in violation of the [rabies control]  
            provisions of this chapter is guilty of an infraction,  
            punishable by a fine not exceeding $1,000.  (HSC Section  
            121630.)

           FISCAL EFFECT  :   Unknown

           COMMENTS  :   









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           1)Author's Statement  :  According to the author, this bill "will  
            require that pet owners exchange information with any person  
            who has been bitten by his or her animal.  Current law  
            requires that a person involved in an auto accident provide  
            his or her name, address, and registration number of the  
            vehicle to all parties involved in the accident and to any  
            traffic or police officer at the scene.  Likewise, when a  
            person owns a pet, he or she has certain responsibilities,  
            such as keeping the animal on a leash or keeping children and  
            the elderly a safe distance from the pet.  In the event of a  
            biting incident, parties involved should have the right to  
            know who the owner is, any critical health issues, and the  
            vaccination history of the animal.  This bill will require the  
            owner of a domesticated animal (such as a dog or cat) to share  
            his or her name, address, and phone number and the animal's  
            name, breed, and license number with the victim of the bite,  
            and to provide a history of the animal's rabies vaccinations  
            within 48 hours." 

           2)Background  :  According to background information provided by  
            the author, a resident of the 71st Assembly District was  
            bitten by a dog while walking on the beach.  The owner  
            immediately left the scene with his dog and "when Animal  
            Control personnel arrived, the victim of the bite was informed  
            that though the dog owner's actions were irresponsible, they  
            were not unlawful.  This bill will require the owner of an  
            animal that bites a person to share his or her name, address,  
            and phone number, along with the animal's name, breed, and  
            license tag number with the victim.  The owner must also  
            provide information on the animal's rabies vaccinations within  
            48 hours.  Failure to comply would constitute a misdemeanor.   
            When two drivers are involved in a car accident, they are  
            required to share information and provide necessary  
            assistance.  Likewise, when a person is bitten by a  
            domesticated animal, it is that person's right to know the  
            health status of the animal and the owner's responsibility to  
            provide that information." 

           3)Overview  :  As detailed below, this bill presents a number of  
            troubling issues, including:  (a) serious and improper impacts  
            on the constitutional rights guaranteed under the due process  
            clause and the Fifth Amendment's privilege against  
            self-incrimination; (b) discriminatory and arbitrary  
            enforcement due to the bill's vagueness; (c) increasing the  
            scope of the jail overcrowding problem and causing the early  








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            release of potentially violent criminals; and, (d) endangering  
            the safety of children by requiring child dog custodians to  
            provide their personal, identifying information to adult  
            strangers, generally in an unsupervised and potentially  
            isolated setting.  

          There is arguably no need to confront these serious problems as  
            all recent reports of rabies transmission to humans have  
            occurred from contact with bats, not dogs; existing law  
            already makes it a misdemeanor to conceal information about  
            the location or ownership of an animal that has bitten another  
            person.  This bill expands the existing misdemeanor by  
            specifying a sentence of up to six months in the county jail,  
            with no associated fine, and no discretion given to the  
            sentencing judge.  Finally, there is no rational basis for  
            this bill as existing law already strictly regulates dogs and  
            their vaccinations.

           4)Creation of a New Crime with Imprisonment as the Only  
            Potential Sentence  :  According to a September 2006 report by  
            the California State Sheriff's Association, there are 20  
            counties with court-imposed population caps on their jails and  
            other correctional facilities.  [California State Sheriff's  
            Association, June 2006, "Do The Crime, Do The Time?  Maybe  
            Not, In California", citing Correction Standards Authority,  
            Jail Profile Survey, "Court Imposed Caps/Early Releases,"  
            September 2005.]  The report states, "In California's local  
            adult system, jail facilities are bursting at the seams.   
            [S]imply put, California does not have enough local detention  
            capacity or adequate program space to meet public safety  
            demands.  

          "The consequence is that in 2005, statewide 9,148 offenders per  
            month were given pretrial releases and an additional 9,323  
            inmates a month were released early from their jail sentences  
            due solely to lack of jail space.  What a cap means is that  
            when the jail is full, for every new inmate admitted, someone  
            already in custody has to be released.  (Id. at p. 17.)

          A Los Angeles Times article, "Releasing Inmates Early Has Costly  
            Human Toll" (May 14, 2006), stated "a shortage of beds puts  
            career criminals back on the street, where they commit new  
            offenses.  [A named gang member] should still have been behind  
            bars the night he climbed into the passenger seat of a stolen  
            car with two fellow gang members, and [the 18-year old  








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            released inmate] shot and killed . . . a grandfather who had  
            just bought a lottery ticket.  If not for chronic shortage of  
            jail beds in Los Angeles County, [this] killer would have been  
            in jail four more months.  . . .  He joined more than 150,000  
            county inmates who have been released during the last four  
            years after serving fractions of their sentences."  (Id.)

          According to a recent report by the Little Hoover Commission  
            ("Solving California's Correction Crisis:  Time is Running  
            Out", Report #185, January 2007), "California's correctional  
            system is in a tailspin that threatens public safety and  
            raises the risk of fiscal disaster.  The failing correctional  
            system is the largest and most immediate crisis facing  
            policy-makers . . . thousands of local jail inmates are let  
            out early every week as a result of overcrowding and  
            court-ordered population caps."

          In view of such serious overcrowding of the State's jails and  
            prisons leading to the early release of some violent inmates  
            convicted of serious offenses, should the Legislature cause  
            the release of additional violent criminals in order to punish  
            dog owners who fail to provide all of the information required  
            by this bill, which is arguably vague and overly broad?  

          For each dog owner who is sentenced to a term in jail under this  
            bill, a serious criminal may be compelled to be released due  
            to the population caps.  Given a choice of jailing the gang  
            member who, when released, shot a grandfather as reported in  
            the Los Angeles Times or jailing a dog owner who failed to  
            provide a person claiming to have been bitten with the name  
            breed and license tag number of his or her dog, the interests  
            of public safety appear to be better served by keeping the  
            gang member incarcerated and letting the dog owner remain  
            free.  

           5)Rabies Facts  : According to a 2005 report issued by the  
            California Department of Health Services (DHS), there were no  
            reported cases of rabies in dogs in California during that  
            year (the last year for which statistics were published on the  
            DHS Web site.  See  
             http://www.dhs.ca.gov/ps/dcdc/disb/pdf/2005%20Rabies%20Final.pd 
            f  ).

          According to DHS, "In the United States today, wildlife accounts  
            for more than 90% of the reported cases of animal rabies.  In  








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            California, rabies is well established in the skunk and bat  
            populations.  DHS has developed a Rabies Fact Sheet which is  
            available on the DHS web site.  
            [  http://www.dhs.ca.gov/ohb/HESIS/rabies.htm#Who%20is%20
          at%20Risk?  ]  

          According to the DHS rabies fact sheet, "Most wild mammals can  
            get infected with rabies.  The most susceptible animals  
            include bats, raccoons, skunks, coyotes, foxes, and wolves.  
            Rabies in domestic animals can be prevented by a vaccine.   
            However, dogs, cats, and livestock can be infected if they are  
            not vaccinated.  Cats currently make up most of the reported  
            cases among domestic animals in the United States."   
            [(Emphasis added.)  Id.] 

           6)Nexus between This Bill's Requirements and the Protection of  
            the Public from Rabies  :  This bill requires the owner or  
            custodian of an animal to provide personal and private  
            identifying information to any person alleging to have been  
            bitten by the owner's animal.  There appears to be little  
            nexus between much of the information required and any  
            legitimate government interest. 

          It should be noted that the person having custody and control of  
            the animal may be a minor child taking the dog for a walk.  Is  
            it good public policy to require a minor child in control of  
            an animal to provide his or her name, address, and telephone  
            number to a person who may be a complete stranger to the  
            child?  The person claiming to have been bitten may be a  
            well-intentioned victim; on the other hand, he or she may be a  
            person with criminal intent, targeting a child who is walking  
            the streets alone with his or her dog.  Is it the bill's  
            intention to require a young child disclose his or her name,  
            address and telephone number to a complete stranger in what  
            may well be an unsupervised or remote setting?  With  
            information about a young child's name, address, and phone  
            number in hand, a potential sexual predator has easy future  
            access to the child, creating the potential for a crime far  
            more serious than failure to disclose information about a dog.  
             

          The requirement that the animal's breed be identified raises a  
            number of issues, including unconstitutional vagueness and  
            over-breadth.  This requirement also poses the question as to  
            whether this is an attempt to open the door to breed profiling  








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            or banning or restricting certain breeds of dog suspected of  
            being most prone to being vicious or aggressive.

           7)Is This Bill Unconstitutionally Vague and/or Overly Broad  ?  "A  
            statute is void for vagueness (and thus unconstitutional under  
            the due process clause of the United States Constitution) if  
            the statute:  (a) does not define the conduct it prohibits  
            with sufficient definiteness and (b) does not establish  
            minimal guidelines to govern law enforcement.  A criminal  
            statute cannot be so vague that men of common intelligence  
            must necessarily guess at its meaning and differ as to its  
            application."  [  U.S. v. Wyatt  , 2005 U.S. App. LEXIS 9635 (May  
            26, 2005).]  It is a basic principle of due process that an  
            enactment is void for vagueness if its prohibitions are not  
            clearly defined.  [  U.S. v. Purdy  , 264 F. 3d 809 (9th Circuit  
            2001);  Mason v. Office of Administrative Hearings,  (2001) 89  
            Cal. App. 4th 1119 (emphasis added.).]

          The United States Supreme Court has stated, "An ordinance is  
            unconstitutionally vague 'if it fails to provide people of  
            ordinary intelligence a reasonable opportunity to understand  
            what conduct it prohibits', or 'if it authorizes or even  
            encourages arbitrary and discriminatory enforcement'."  [  Hill  
            v. Colorado  , 530 U.S. 703, 732 (2000);  Gospel Missions of  
            America v. City of Los Angeles  , 419 F.3d 1042 (9th Cir.  
            2005).]  If arbitrary and discriminatory enforcement is to be  
            prevented, laws must provide explicit standards for those who  
            apply them.  A vague law impermissibly delegates basic policy  
            matters to policemen, judges, and juries for resolution on an  
            ad hoc and subjective basis, with the attendant dangers of  
            arbitrary and discriminatory application.  (  Mason  , supra at p.  
            1126.)

          The requirements of this bill are not clearly defined, and the  
            bill fails to provide explicit standards for law enforcement  
            and triers of fact to determine precisely what conduct  
            constitutes a misdemeanor under the bill.  Although the bill  
            states, "Violation of this section is a misdemeanor punishable  
            by imprisonment in the county jail not exceeding six months,"  
            it is unclear at what point the misdemeanor occurs.  Does it  
            occur when the animal owner or custodian fails to immediately  
            provide the other person with his or her name, address,  
            telephone number and the name, breed and license tag number of  
            the animal?  Or does the conduct become a misdemeanor when the  
            owner or custodian fails to provide the other person, within  








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            48 hours, information regarding the status of the animal's  
            vaccinations?  Or is the failure to perform either (or both)  
            of these acts a separate misdemeanor?

          The bill presents other issues of vagueness and/or over-breadth,  
            including:

             a)   The requirement that the animal owner or custodian  
               reveal his or her address, telephone number and the name,  
               breed and license tag number of the animal is both vague  
               and overly broad.  As discussed below, a person's home  
               address and telephone number appear to be irrelevant to any  
                     legitimate public policy purpose, and constitute the kind  
               of identifying information that most people legitimately  
               attempt to keep confidential, to protect themselves from  
               identity theft, stalking, and other criminal conduct.  

             b)   Only dogs are required by law to be licensed and  
               vaccinated against rabies.  If the animal in question is a  
               cat, the animal is unlikely to have a license tag number or  
               to be identifiable by breed.  A cat is also unlikely to  
               have a history of vaccinations, as cats are not required by  
               law to be vaccinated.  Since most of the requirements of  
               this bill are inapplicable to cats, should the bill be more  
               narrowly-tailored to apply only to dogs?

             c)   Many dogs are quite adept at disengaging themselves from  
               their collars, on which the dog's license tag is generally  
               attached.  Is a dog owner guilty of a misdemeanor and  
               subject to six months in the county jail if he or she is  
               unable to provide the license tag number because the dog's  
               collar and attached tag have been misplaced?  A similar  
               question exists as to situations in which the actual  
               license tag has fallen off the collar and been lost.  

             d)   The name and breed of the animal constitute information  
               that has no nexus with the bite, and that the other person  
               has no need to know.  Owners of expensive, purebred,  
               AKC-certified dogs may be reluctant to provide the dog's  
               name to a stranger; persons who are visually or  
               hearing-impaired, whose dogs are highly-trained guide or  
               signal dogs, may be similarly reluctant as such dogs often  
               cost upwards of $20,000 to fully train.  Moreover, as  
               discussed below, the custodian of an animal may not possess  
               sufficient information about the animal to correctly  








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               identify it by name and breed.  Further, many, if not most,  
               dogs are not certified to be a specified "breed" and are,  
               in fact, of mixed parentage.  

             e)   If the animal is in the custody of a person other than  
               the owner (such as a professional dog walker), the  
               custodian may not have access to the status of the animal's  
               vaccinations and may be unable to obtain such information  
               within 48 hours.  For example, the custodian may be caring  
               for the animal's essential needs while the owners are on an  
               extended vacation.  It is unclear from the provisions of  
               this bill how such custodians would be treated by lawn  
               enforcement or animal control officials.

             f)   Is it a misdemeanor if the owner or custodian provides  
               his or her name only or his or her name and the name of his  
               or her insurance company, but fails to provide evidence of  
               the animal's breed and vaccination status?  Must each piece  
               of information listed in the bill be provided in order to  
               avoid criminal charges?

             g)   The bill is silent as to the interpretation of its  
               provisions if the animal owner or custodian is not present  
               at the time of the alleged bite - for example, a dog  
               usually contained in a back yard fenced area may escape and  
               bite a person while running down the street.  If that  
               person later encounters the person he or she believes to be  
               the owner of the animal and alleges that the animal bit him  
               or her, is the owner required to accept that person's word  
               and immediately provide identifying information about him  
               or herself, the name, breed and license tag number of the  
               animal owned, and that animal's vaccination status?  A  
               reasonable dog owner may be skeptical in such a situation,  
               particularly in cases in which the dog has no prior history  
               of biting conduct.  

             h)   Is the term "information regarding the status of the  
               animal's vaccinations" sufficiently specific as to its  
               requirements as to withstand a challenge on grounds of  
               vagueness?   This phrase does not provide those charged  
               with enforcing it explicit standards regarding the type of  
               information to be provided.  Is verbal assurance that the  
               animal has been vaccinated sufficient or does the bill  
               contemplate that veterinary records or other written  
               documentation must be provided?  How far back in time does  








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               the bill contemplate the status of the animal's  
               vaccinations must be provided?  Is it sufficient to provide  
               evidence of the last rabies vaccination but omit all other  
               vaccinations and any prior rabies vaccinations?  Again, the  
               vagueness of these provisions fails to provide explicit  
               instruction to those charged with enforcing this law, and  
               that failure can lead to arbitrary and discriminatory  
               enforcement.  (  Hill v. Colorado  , supra.)

             i)   Since rabies is the only vaccination required by law for  
               dogs, should this bill be more narrowly tailored to allow  
               inquiry only as to the dog's last rabies vaccination if  
               such exists?  This bill is unclear as to whether it  
               requires the owner to furnish the status of vaccinations  
               other than rabies that may have been administered to the  
               dog, and is unclear how an owner who has not vaccinated his  
               or her dog can comply with this bill without waiving his or  
               her privilege against self-incrimination.

           8)Information on the Breed of the Animal  :  This bill requires,  
            among other things, that the owner of the animal alleged to  
            have bitten another person provide that other person with the  
            breed of the animal.  Precisely what constitutes a "breed" is  
            subject to varying interpretations and is, therefore, an  
            impermissibly vague requirement.  The American Kennel Club  
            (AKC) for example, lists numerous certified breeds  
            "Miscellaneous Class" intended as an interim stage prior to a  
            breed becoming certified.  The following are listed as  
            miscellaneous breeds:  Beauceron; Dogue de Bordeaux; Norwegian  
            Buhund; Pyrenean Shepherd; Redbone Coonhound; Swedish  
            Vallhund.  (See, e.g.,  
             http://www.akc.org/breeds/fss_breeds.cfm  .)  A literal reading  
            of this information indicates that such dogs are in being  
            considered by the AKC to determine if dog merits inclusion in  
            the term "breed."  

          Under the provisions of this bill, if the owner of, e.g, a  
            Redbone Coonhound identifies his or her dog's breed as such,  
            has he or she provided misleading information as Redbone  
            Coonhounds are not yet certified as a breed?
           
          The AKC Breed list begins (alphabetically) with the breed  
            "Affenpinscher", a member of the toy group.  The AKC Breed  
            list ends (alphabetically) with the breed "Xoloitzcuintli",  
            described as a Standard Foundation Stock.  








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          Of course, not all dogs are "purebred" breeds, in the parlance  
            of the AKC.  Does the requirement that the animal's breed be  
            identified provide a person of reasonable intelligence with  
            the information necessary to know what is required as to breed  
            identification?  If the dog appears to be a purebred Golden  
            Retriever, for example, but lacks AKC certification papers,  
            can that dog's breed be identified as a "Golden Retriever"  
            under the terms of this bill?  If the dog appears to be a  
            Golden Retriever, but several generations back in the dog's  
            heritage there was, for example, a Collie Sire (and this fact  
            is known to the owner), what is required in terms of breed  
            identification under this bill?  

          An AKC-registered purebred dog is generally expensive, and the  
            owner of such a dog who has paid significant sums of money to  
            acquire the dog may be reluctant to provide the dog's name out  
            of fear that the information could be used to steal that very  
            valuable animal.  Moreover, an AKC-registered dog generally  
            has a lengthy name unique to the individual breeder and dog  
            which are used for AKC registration purposes.  However, the  
            owner may call the dog by a shorter "nickname."  Which name  
            must be provided under this bill or is the dog owner required  
            to provide both names?

          Finally, many people adopt dogs of uncertain heritage from  
            animal rescue organizations.  It is often difficult to make an  
            educated guess as to the breed(s) which participated in the  
            parenting of such a dog.  In order to comply with the  
            provisions of this bill, how is the owner or custodian of such  
            a dog to identify the dog's breed?  

          Most importantly, perhaps, is the question of nexus.  What  
            possible relevance is the animal's breed in terms of requiring  
            the dog's owner to identify him or herself or to the issue of  
            the bite?  A bite by a dog of mixed parentage is likely to  
            have similar characteristics to the bite of a similarly sized  
            Labrador.

          The breed issue is more complicated if a cat is the biting  
            animal as most cats seen in the local neighborhood are clearly  
            of mixed breeding, commonly referred to as "alley cats" or  
            "domestic short-haired" cats (unless, of course, they have  
            long hair; in which case, they are referred to as "domestic  
            long hairs".)  It does not appear that domestic short- or  








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            long-haired cats are recognized breeds by the Cat Fancier's  
            Association (CFA), the feline equivalent of the AKC.  However,  
            the CFA does recognize a breed called "American Shorthair,"  
            which is distinguished in a lengthy description on the CFA Web  
            site from "domestic short hairs."  (See, e.g.,  
             http://www.cfa.org/breeds/profiles/american-sh.html  .)  

           If the owner of a "domestic short hair" mistakenly identifies  
            the cat's breed as an "American shorthair," that owner has not  
            provided accurate information under this bill.  Again, this  
            bill is vague in that it fails to specify whether any  
            information can be omitted, or be erroneously provided,  
            without incurring criminal liability.  

          The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals  
            (ASPCA) "opposes laws that ban specific breeds of dogs or that  
            discriminate against particular breeds.  These laws unfairly  
            discriminate against responsible dog guardians based solely on  
            their choice of breed.  Such laws also fail to achieve the  
            desired goal of stopping illegal activities such as dog  
            fighting, and breeding and/or training dogs to be aggressive.   
            The ASPCA believes that strict enforcement of laws that ban  
            animal fighting, and breeding and/or training animals to  
            fight, is the proper means to address the problem.  Breed bans  
            and the increasingly widespread practice by insurance  
            companies to deny homeowners' coverage for certain dog breeds  
            virtually guarantee euthanasia of otherwise adoptable dogs by  
            shelters and humane societies.  Laws that deny insurance  
            coverage also force responsible home owners/pet guardians to  
            choose between a beloved family pet and insurance for their  
            home - a choice no one should be compelled to make."   
            [  www.aspca.org/ssite/PageServer?
          pagename=pp_breedban]

           The above issues cause the bill to be overly broad, vague and  
            lacking a rational basis.

           9)Arbitrary and Discriminatory Enforcement  :  This bill does not  
            provide explicit standards for those charged with applying its  
            provisions as required by applicable case law.  (See, e.g.,  
             Mason,  supra at p. 1126.)  A vague law impermissibly delegates  
            basic policy matters to policemen, judges, and juries for  
            resolution on an ad hoc and subjective basis, with the  
            attendant dangers of arbitrary and discriminatory application.  
              How would the provisions of this bill be applied to a  








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            homeless person who owns an animal, but has no address or  
            telephone number to provide to the person alleging a bite, to  
            non-English speaking dog owners, or to minor children?  

          For example, with respect to providing "information regarding  
            the status of the animal's vaccinations" is verbal assurance  
            that the animal has been vaccinated sufficient or does the  
            bill require that veterinary records or other written  
            documentation must be provided?  The homeless lack an address  
            or telephone number and presumably lack the space in which to  
            maintain vaccination records.  Are homeless animal owners  
            subject to six months in the county jail for the crime of  
            belonging to a class that is virtually incapable of complying  
            with this proposed law?  

          Is a person in compliance if he or she exchanges identifying  
            information but fails to follow through with the animal's  
            vaccination history?  Is a person in compliance if he or she  
            both provides his or her identifying information and also  
            provides information that the animal has never been  
            vaccinated?  Since the existing law imposes a misdemeanor  
            penalty of $1,000 upon persons who fail to vaccinate their  
            animals, does the required admission of non-vaccination  
            violate the Fifth Amendment's privilege against  
            self-incrimination?

           10)Vaccination Status  :  Since the latest statistics compiled for  
            the State of California indicate that the few cases of animal  
            to human transmission of rabies occurred from contact with  
            bats and that there were no cases of human death from rabies  
            due to dog bites, are any of the requirements of this bill so  
            essential as to warrant the creation of a new misdemeanor?  

           11)Rabies Vaccination May Not Be The Most Effective Method of  
            Immunizing Dogs and Has Inherent Dangers  :  Many veterinarians  
            who practice homeopathic veterinary medicine recommend against  
            the traditional scheme of annual vaccinations and other  
            wellness shots.  
          "[T]here is a great deal of evidence implicating vaccination as  
            the cause of many serious chronic health problems.  For this  
            reason, I do not recommend vaccinations for dogs or cats."   
            Jeffrey Levy, DVM PCH, "Classical Veterinary Homeopathy"  
            [www.homeovet.net/content/
          lifestyle/section2.html.]









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          One of the leading experts in canine vaccination issues has  
            started a study, "The Concurrent Challenge."  The concurrent  
            challenge studies will determine the duration of immunity  
            conveyed by the canine rabies vaccine, with the goal of  
            extending the state-mandated interval for boosters to five,  
            and then, to seven years.  According to the lead researcher,  
            "This is one of the most important projects in veterinary  
            medicine.  It will benefit all dogs by providing evidence that  
            protection from rabies vaccination lasts at least 5 years,  
            thereby avoiding unnecessary revaccination with its attendant  
            risk of debilitating adverse reactions.

          "Scientific data indicate that vaccinating dogs against rabies  
            every three years, as most states require, is unnecessary.   
            Studies have shown the duration of protective immunity as  
            measured by serum antibody titers against rabies virus to  
            persist for seven years post-vaccination.  . . .  Researchers  
            believe the rabies vaccine causes the most and worst adverse  
            reactions in animals and concur that it should not be given  
            more often than is necessary to maintain immunity."   
            [  http://www.itsfortheanimals.com/RABIES-CHALLENGE-FUND.HTM.]
           
          In fact, some experts argue that the blood titer test is  
            actually the most accurate method of assuring that a dog is  
            immune from rabies.  (See, e.g., Jan Rasmusen, "All About the  
            Rabies Vaccine",  
             http://www.dogs4dogs.com/JR_Articles/Rabies.html  .)  "If your  
            dog is at high risk for rabies, know that the only way to  
            guarantee that your dog is immune to the rabies virus is to  
            have his or her antibody titers tested.  An animal may be  
            repeatedly vaccinated and yet never develop immunity if  
            his/her immune system is malfunctioning."  (Id.)  

          Is evidence of titer testing sufficient to satisfy this bill's  
            requirement of provision of information as to the animal's  
            vaccination status?
           
            It should be noted that existing law already addresses the  
            confidentiality of information provided by a dog owner to his  
            or her veterinarian.  As stated above, "all information  
            obtained from a dog owner is confidential to the dog owner and  
            proprietary to the veterinarian.  This information shall not  
            be used or distributed for any purpose except to ensure  
            compliance with existing federal, state, county, or city laws  
            or regulations."  [HSC Section 121690(h).]  








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           12)How Can the Animal's Owner Provide Identifying Information if  
            the Bite Occurred Out of the Owner's Presence  ?  If the  
            animal's owner or custodian is not present at the time of the  
            alleged bite, how is the owner expected to know, or have  
            reason to know, of the claimed bite?  In the absence of  
            physical presence or direct observation of the bite, what  
            facts constitute evidence that the owner knew or had reason to  
            know that his or her animal bit another person?  Does this  
            language provide sufficient direction to the persons charged  
            with enforcement of the law in order to avoid a successful  
            challenge on the grounds that it is unconstitutionally vague?   
            It is a basic principle of due process that an enactment is  
            void for vagueness if its prohibitions are not clearly  
            defined.  [  U.S. v. Purdy  , 264 F. 3d 809 (9th Circuit 2001);  
             Mason v. Office of Administrative Hearings  , (2001) 89 Cal.  
            App. 4th 1119, 1126 (emphasis added).]
           
          Most prudent persons would be hesitant to provide personal  
            identifying information to a total stranger alleging a dog  
            bite when the dog owner did not observe the bite.  Another  
            possible scenario, of even greater concern, involves minor  
            children who may have sole custody of a dog at the time of the  
            bite accusation.  A plethora of legislation has been  
            introduced for the stated purpose of protecting children from  
            sexual predators; yet, this bill requires those same children  
            to provide their names, addresses and telephone numbers to  
            adult strangers alleging that the child's dog bit them.  Such  
            personal, identifying information gives an adult stranger easy  
            access to the child providing that person, identifying  
            information pursuant to this bill's requirements.   
           
          13)Are Fleeing Dog Owners of Biting Dogs A Problem So Extensive  
            As To Warrant the Creation of a New Crime  ?  It is of note that  
            this bill does not provide the sentencing court with any  
            discretion as to the imposition of a fine or community service  
            in lieu of jail time.  In this regard, this bill is at odds  
            with the punishment provisions of most other misdemeanors,  
            which provide for a specified fine, a specified term of  
            imprisonment, or both.   

          In view of the current, well-publicized and critical crisis  
            facing the State of California in terms of prison overcrowding  
            (which also involves county jail overcrowding), is it good  
            public policy to create a new misdemeanor punishable by jail  








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            time only?  There appears to be no countermanding public  
            crisis related to fleeing owners of biting dogs that justifies  
            the creation of this new crime.  
           
          14)Is This Bill Intended to Assist Plaintiffs in Civil Dog Bite  
            Cases  ?  The specific purpose of this bill is not apparent from  
            the language of the bill itself.  However, a criminal  
            conviction of the owner of a dog who has bitten another person  
            would have the potential of providing significant assistance  
            to a plaintiff in civil litigation under California's "strict  
            liability" dog-bite law.  Civil Code Section 3342(a) provides  
            in part that "the owner of any dog is liable for the damages  
            suffered by any person who is bitten by the dog while in a  
            public place or lawfully in a private place, including the  
            property of the owner of the dog, regardless of the former  
            viciousness of the dog or the owner's knowledge of such  
            viciousness . . . . "  

          "Civil Code Section 3342(a) has been recognized as imposing a  
            duty of care on every dog owner to prevent his or her dog from  
            biting persons in a public place or lawfully in a private  
            place.  The statute is designed to prevent dogs from becoming  
            a hazard to the community by holding dog owners to such a  
            standard of care, and assigning strict liability for its  
            breach."  [  Priebe v. Nelson  , 39 Cal. 4th 1112, 1120 (2006).]   
            Few exceptions have been recognized to application of strict  
            liability to dog owners for bites by their dogs.  

          It is clear that persons bitten by dogs are already provided an  
            avenue for recovery of damages sustained and shielded from any  
            defenses that might otherwise be asserted such as assumption  
            of risk and contributory negligence.  [See, e.g.,  Davis v.  
            Gaschler  , (1992), 11 Cal. App. 4th 1392.]  Dog owners are  
            subject to laws requiring registration and licensure, and  
            immunity from rabies is a pre-requisite to obtaining a  
            license.  Given the protections and remedies that already  
            exist, together with the current crisis with respect to jail  
            over-crowding, is the creation of a new misdemeanor warranted,  
            particularly when that new misdemeanor is punishable only by  
            imprisonment in the county jail?

          The Appellate Court has recognized that not every dog bite  
            creates an emergency situation, even in view of the deadly  
            nature of rabies.   [  In Re Quackenbush  , 41 Cal. App. 4th 1301  
            (1996).]  In the  Quackenbush  case, the court rejected the  








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            argument of the Prosecution that every dog bite creates an  
            emergency due to the deadly nature of rabies, citing the State  
                                                                                 Department of Health Services regulations allowing for  
            isolation of a biting animal at the discretion of the local  
            health officer.  [17 C.C.R.2606(b)(2).]  The court stated, "It  
            is only when the animal exhibits the clinical symptoms of  
            rabies that isolation in a pound, veterinary hospital or other  
            adequate facility is required," citing 17 C.C.R. 2606(b)(1).   
            (Id. at p. 1307.)

          The reasoning of the  Quackenbush  Court is applicable to the  
            issue of the need for the new misdemeanor created by this  
            bill.  This bill's rather extraordinary requirement that an  
            accused dog owner divulge personal identifying information to  
            a stranger and provide his or her dog's vaccination records  
            within 48 hours appears to be based on the assumption that  
            every dog bite creates an emergency situation that warrants  
            the criminalizing of a person's legitimate attempt to protect  
            his or her own personal identifying information or that of his  
            or her child.  Moreover, although the author's background  
            information refers to an exchange of information similar to  
            that which occurs at the scene of an automobile accident, this  
            bill does not require an  exchange  of information.  No  
            information is required to be provided by the person bitten to  
            the animal's owner, notwithstanding the potential or even  
            likelihood, of an insurance claim or civil litigation that may  
            be initiated due to the dog bite.
           
          15)Is This Bill Necessary  ?  Given the strict liability imposed  
            on dog owners under the Civil Code and the extensive  
            regulatory scheme already in place with respect to dog  
            licensing and rabies control, is there a need for a six-month  
            misdemeanor to coerce dog owners into providing otherwise  
            private information unrelated to any legitimate government  
            interest?

          It is already a misdemeanor to conceal information about the  
            location and ownership of a dog that has bitten another person  
            with the intent to prevent the dog's quarantine or isolation  
            by the local health officer.  [HSC Section 121705.]  Is there  
            a demonstrated need for another misdemeanor, punishable only  
            by imprisonment, for essentially the same conduct prohibited  
            by HSC Section 121705?  Why is HSC Section 121705 insufficient  
            to accomplish the purposes of this bill?  









                                                                  AB 670
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           16)Arguments in Support  :  The  Orange County Medical Association   
            (OCMA) states, "As physicians, we are aware that dog bites are  
            a fairly common occurrence in Orange County emergency rooms.   
            These injuries are unnecessary and are often the fault of an  
            owner who failed to control their pet.  As a result, the added  
            unnecessary costs to the healthcare system, the burden on  
            already strained emergency departments and the pain and  
            suffering of the victims is something that should be  
            addressed.

          "AB 670 helps to hold pet owners responsible for the actions of  
            their pets.  Since many pet owners personally choose dog  
            breeds or other pets known to be more aggressive, it is very  
            important that we hold them accountable should their pet harm  
            someone else.  Hopefully, your legislation will help to reduce  
            these injuries and the related healthcare consequences.

          "[A]lso, please be advised that the support of OCMA is a  
            position that is taken separate from our parent organization,  
            the California Medical Association (CMA).  It is our  
            understanding that the CMA has not taken a position on AB  
            670."

           17)Argument in Opposition  :  The  Taxpayers for Improving Public  
            Safety  states, "This measure seeks to undermine the 5th  
            Amendment.  One of the basic premises of criminal  
            jurisprudence is the right to assert the privilege of not  
            offering evidence which is self-incriminating.  This  
            legislation purports to compel an individual to confess to the  
            commission of a crime, and by failing to make that penal  
            admission, commits another crime.  This bill should be  
            rejected unless the individual who comes forward with the  
            information is provided immunity from prosecution on the  
            underlying offense.  . . .  It should be clear that any step  
            towards violating the absolute constitutional prohibition  
            against being compelled to provide evidence which is  
            self-incriminating must be rejected."  
           
           REGISTERED SUPPORT / OPPOSITION  :   

           Support 
           
          Orange County Medical Association

           Opposition








                                                                 AB 670
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           Taxpayers for Improving Public Safety 
           

          Analysis Prepared by  :    Kathleen Ragan / PUB. S. / (916)  
          319-3744