BILL ANALYSIS                                                                                                                                                                                                    



                                                                  AB 1634
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          Date of Hearing:   May 16, 2007

                        ASSEMBLY COMMITTEE ON APPROPRIATIONS
                                  Mark Leno, Chair

                     AB 1634 (Levine) - As Amended:  May 9, 2007 

          Policy Committee:                              Business and  
          Professions  Vote:                            7-3

          Urgency:     No                   State Mandated Local Program:  
          Yes    Reimbursable:              No

           SUMMARY  

          This bill requires all cats and dogs to be spayed or neutered,  
          with specified exceptions, and establishes civil penalties for  
          non-compliance. Specifically, this bill:

          1)Requires that all cats and dogs over four months of age be  
            spayed or neutered unless the owner obtains an annual permit  
            from a local jurisdiction or animal control agency.

          2)Subjects a cat or dog owner to a civil penalty of $500 for  
            each animal in violation of (1), unless the owner provides a  
            letter from a licensed veterinarian that it is unsafe to spay  
            or neuter their animal and the animal will be spayed or  
            neutered within 75 days of reaching four months of age.

          3)Requires the local enforcement agency to issue a permit, and  
            thus allow an owner to avoid spaying or neutering their cat or  
            dog, if the owner meets  any  of the following conditions: 

             a)   Demonstrates they are licensed as a breeder within the  
               local jurisdiction. 

             b)   Demonstrates that their cat or dog is a valid breed  
               recognized by an approved registry or association and  
               complies with at least one of the following:

               i)     The animal has been shown or competed in at least  
                 one legitimate show or sporting competition hosted under  
                 the approval of a recognized registry within the last two  
                 years or is being trained to compete.









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               ii)    The animal has earned, or is in process of earning,  
                 a conformation, obedience, agility, carting, herding,  
                 protection, rally, sporting, working, or other title from  
                 a purebred registry or association. 

             c)   Provides proof that the dog is being trained for, or has  
               been trained as a guide dog, service dog, or signal dog, or  
               for law enforcement or rescue activities. 

             d)   Provides a letter from a licensed veterinarian that it  
               is unsafe to spay or neuter due to age, poor health, or  
               illness.

          4)Requires the amount of the permit fee to be determined by the  
            local enforcement agency as necessary to administer the permit  
            program. The fee must be waived for animals meeting the  
            requirements of (3)(c) and authorizes waiving all or part of  
            the fee for animals meeting the requirements of (3)(d).

          5)Exempts a non-resident owner who brings their cat or dog into  
            the state from the permit requirements if they provide proof  
            that their animal is temporarily in California for training,  
            showing, or any other legitimate reason.

          6)Requires the local animal control agency to conduct outreach  
            in connection with all of the above, and to the extent funding  
            is available, to establish free and low-cost spaying and  
            neutering programs for cats and dogs owned by low-income  
            persons.

          7)Requires revenue from civil penalties to be used for  
            enforcement, administration, and program outreach, and  
            authorizes local animal control agencies to establish the free  
            and low-cost spaying and neutering programs.
           
          FISCAL EFFECT  

           1)Costs  . No direct state costs and any costs to local  
            governments would be nonreimbursable. Any additional costs to  
            local agencies will be supported by existing local resources  
            and by revenue from annual permits and from civil penalties.

            It is assumed that enforcement of the bill's provisions will  
            be conducted by local animal control agencies in the course of  
            performing their existing enforcement duties, and generally on  








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            a complaint-driven basis.

           2)Potential Savings  . To the extent conformance with the bill's  
            requirements reduces the number of cats and dogs impounded to  
            animal shelters, local governments could realize operational  
            savings. Supporters provided information from Santa Cruz  
            County, which implemented a similar ordinance in 1995, showing  
            that by 2003, intake of cats and dogs into county shelters  
            declined by 60% and the number of euthanized animals declined  
            by 75%. Supporters also estimate that shelter operating costs  
            related to intake of cats and dogs totaled $250 million  
            statewide in 2005. Thus, if a statewide spay/neuter  
            requirement resulted in only a portion of the workload  
            reduction reported for Santa Cruz County, there would still be  
            significant statewide savings among local agencies. Given the  
            assumed, complaint-driven enforcement of a spay/neuter  
            requirement, however, it is likely that such results would  
            take several years. In the short-term, these costs could even  
            increase to the extent some people would surrender their  
            animals to a shelter rather than pay for a spay/neuter  
            procedure, which would somewhat increase shelter populations  
            and related costs.

           3)Potential State Mandate Savings  . SB 1785 (Hayden)/Chapter 752  
            of 1998, increased, from three to six, the number of days that  
            public and private animal shelters were required to keep  
            animals before they are euthanized. State reimbursable costs  
            for this mandate currently exceed $20 million annually. To the  
            extent AB 1634 reduces shelter costs as described above, the  
            state could realize a portion of the savings through reduced  
            claims for this mandate.

           4)Potential Economic Impacts  . The American Kennel Club (AKC)  
            indicates that, in 2006, about 160,000 competitors competed in  
            137 all-breed dog shows in California, including three of the  
            ten largest in the country, and that another 130,000  
            competitors participate in events such as agility, obedience,  
            and field trials. Some of these events, such as a large,  
            national show held recently in Long Beach, attract many  
            competitors from outside the state. Opponents assert that  
            enactment of this bill would have a chilling effect on  
            attendance at these shows and a resulting economic impact on  
            the state. (The bill was recently amended to clarify that cats  
            and dogs of out-of-state competitors at such shows would not  
            be subject to the spay/neuter requirements.) The AKC notes  








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            that, following enactment of an ordinance in Louisville,  
            Kentucky in part requiring all unaltered dogs to be kept on  
            four-foot leashes and increasing licensing fees for such dogs,  
            entries at a recent large national show in Louisville declined  
            about 20% from the prior year. Given the amount of economic  
            activity related to these shows in California, a similar  
            dampening effect stemming from enactment of AB 1634 would have  
            a negative impact, at least in the short-term, on state and  
            local revenues resulting from travel, hotel bookings, and  
            other related expenditures, particularly those associated with  
            out-of-state visitors. This impact cannot be quantified. On  
            the other hand, with the expected method of enforcement of  
            this bill, it is possible that such events could continue to  
            go forward without any adverse impact on attendance.

            It is assumed that, by and large, other expenditures related  
            to cat and dog ownership represent discretionary spending, and  
            to the extent this bill, over the longer term, leads to any  
            reduction in this particular activity, the economic impact  
            would not be significant.

           COMMENTS  

           1)Purpose  . According to the author's office, each year almost  
            one million unwanted and abandoned cats and dogs are born in  
            California. The author states that "legislation requiring  
            spaying and neutering of cats and dogs is a reasonable,  
            proven-effective and necessary means to greatly reduce the  
            number of unwanted animals and the practice of euthanizing  
            healthy adoptable animals." According to the Animal Population  
            Control Study Commission, every dollar spent on spay and  
            neuter surgeries saves taxpayers $18.72 in future animal  
            control costs over a 10-year period. The author's office  
            states that, "Spaying and neutering also results in  
            significant public health and safety benefits, particularly in  
            the reduction of dangers caused by roaming stray animals, the  
            transmission of rabies and other communicable animal diseases  
            and the occurrences of dog bites."

            This bill is cosponsored by the California Animal Control  
            Directors Association, the California Veterinary Medical  
            Association, Los Angeles Animal Services, Social Compassion in  
            Legislation, and the State Human Association of California.

           2)Existing Spay/Neuter Programs  . In 1995, the County of Santa  








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            Cruz implemented an ordinance requiring cats and dogs over six  
            months old to be spayed or neutered unless an unaltered animal  
            certificate is issued. This certificate is available to anyone  
            meeting specified criteria, such as not having any  
            animal-related convictions within a certain amount of time and  
            providing a proper environment for the animal. The ordinance  
            also requires these owners to furnish the director of animal  
            control services with a statement agreeing to have only one  
            litter per year unless expressly permitted by a veterinarian  
            to have up to two litters a year (cats only). The ordinance  
            also exempts from the certificate requirement service dogs,  
            law enforcement dogs, herding dogs, rescue dogs or animals  
            that can not be spayed or neutered due to health reasons. 

            Many state and local municipalities have implemented publicly  
            funded spay/neuter programs that include varying degrees of  
            increased licensure fees with mandatory spaying and neutering  
            of cats and dogs. New Hampshire implemented a statewide  
            publicly funded spay and neuter program in 1994. Between 1994  
            and 2000, the state's eight largest shelters admitted 31,000  
            fewer dogs and cats than in the six years preceding the  
            program--saving an estimated $2.2 million statewide. Over this  
            time period, that state's euthanasia rate dropped 75%. New  
            Hampshire's program targets cats and dogs living in low-income  
            households. Almost all funding for the program comes from a  
            small surcharge on dog licenses issued throughout the state  
            and revenue from a specialty license plate. 

           3)Opposition  . The American Kennel Club (AKC) believes the bill  
            will put a damper on dog shows that attract out-of-state  
            participants and contribute to the state's economy. For  
            example, the AKC indicates that a national championship show  
            held in Long Beach in 2006 drew 28,000 visitors from all 50  
            states and several foreign countries. This show is scheduled  
            again in Long Beach for December 2007 and December 2008,  
            though the Club claims passage of AB 1634 would make these  
            events uncertain. The Club notes that three of the 10 largest  
            shows in the country are held in California. The AKC also  
            believes the permit fees would unfairly impact hobby breeders  
            of dogs.

            Many opponents claim that it will promote the proliferation of  
            "puppy mills," out-of-state or country breeders, and  
            underground breeding. Landesverband DVG America, Inc., a  
            working dog organization, states in opposition to this bill  








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            that the provision allowing an intact permit for locally  
            licensed breeders does not allow for California hobby breeders  
            and others to be included. Landesverband states "Many, who  
            have been breeding dogs in California, don't meet these  
            criteria that are for USDA commercial dog breeders; i.e. those  
            who sell to brokers and from there on to pet stores.  
            Responsible breeders who carefully select homes for one or two  
            litters a year don't have business licenses of this sort."

            Other opponents claim that current local mandatory spay and  
            neutering programs have proven themselves ineffective. The  
            Camino Real Siberian Husky Club wrote, "mandatory spay/neuter  
            laws have been tried in multiple jurisdictions and have  
            increased animal control costs, while decreasing licensing  
            compliance?In King County, Washington, after passage of a  
            mandatory spay/neuter ordinance in 1992, not only did the  
            Animal Control budget increase?but euthanasia rates fell at a  
            slower rate after the passage of the ordinance."

            The analysis of AB 1634 by the Assembly Committee on Business  
            and Professions listed over 250 supporting organizations and  
            over 300 opposing organizations. This committee received  
            hundreds, if not thousands, of pieces of correspondence  
            regarding this issue.

           4)San Francisco Animal Control-Suggested Amendment  . The Director  
            of Animal Care and Control for the City and County of  
            Sacramento, while understanding the importance of this bill  
            for jurisdictions sheltering and euthanizing large numbers of  
            dogs and cats, notes that different jurisdictions may face  
            different types of dog and cat overpopulation problems. The  
            director indicates that San Francisco generally does not face  
            such problems, and has passed a local breed-specific  
            spay/neuter ordinance to address a particular problem. The  
            director suggests an amendment that would require locals to  
            either implement the provisions of AB 1634 or create their own  
            spay/neuter ordinance tailored to their specific needs. For  
            example, a jurisdiction that is able to easily place dogs but  
            is euthanizing many cats could enact a spay/neuter ordinance  
            only applying to cats, or if the problem is with a specific  
            breed, the ordinance could be directed at that breed.

            The sponsors strongly believe, however, that such an amendment  
            would, to an unacceptable extent, preempt efforts for the more  
            stringent statewide standards of AB 1634.








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           Analysis Prepared by  :    Chuck Nicol / APPR. / (916) 319-2081