BILL ANALYSIS                                                                                                                                                                                                    



                                                                  AB 2243
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          Date of Hearing:  March 23, 2010

                           ASSEMBLY COMMITTEE ON JUDICIARY
                                  Mike Feuer, Chair
                 AB 2243 (Smyth) - As Introduced:  February 18, 2010

                                  PROPOSED CONSENT
           
          SUBJECT  :  DISCRIMINATION PROTECTIONS FOR HANDLERS OF SEARCH AND  
          RESCUE DOGS

           KEY ISSUE  :  SHOULD OUR EMERGENCY SERVICES LAW BE CLARIFIED TO  
          ENSURE THAT THE PROTECTIONS FOR EMERGENCY SERVICES DOGS --  
          INCLUDING PROTECTIONS APPROPRIATELY PROHIBITING DISCRIMINATION  
          AGAINST THE DOGS' HANDLERS -- APPLY DURING NON-DECLARED  
          DISASTERS, AND SHOULD THESE IMPORTANT LAWS BE CLARIFIED TO  
          EXTEND THESE PROTECTIONS TO SEARCH AND RESCUE DOGS HANDLED BY  
          VOLUNTEERS LEGALLY REGISTERED WITH GOVERNMENT AGENCIES?   

           FISCAL EFFECT  :  As currently in print this bill is keyed  
          non-fiscal.

                                      SYNOPSIS

          This non-controversial bill appropriately seeks to clarify our  
          emergency services law to ensure that the protections we give  
          for emergency services dogs -- which include appropriately  
          protecting their handlers from discrimination during their  
          efforts to save people in peril - apply during non-declared  
          emergency disasters.  The laudable bill also clarifies that such  
          discrimination protections apply to handlers who are volunteers  
          during such emergencies who are legally registered with  
          appropriate government agencies.  This measure is sponsored by  
          the California Emergency Management Agency (Cal-EMA), and  
          supported by the California State Sheriffs Association and the  
          Peace Officers Research Association of California (PORAC).   
          There is no known opposition, and the Committee is still  
          awaiting formal support from several of its staff counsels' own  
          well-mannered canines.

           SUMMARY  :  Seeks to clarify the state's emergency services law  
          to, amongst other things, prohibit the discrimination against  
          the handler of a search and rescue dog in hotels, lodging  
          establishments, eating establishments, or public transportation.  
           Specifically,  this bill  :  








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          1)Prohibits discrimination against the handler of a search and  
            rescue dog assigned to duty away from his or her home  
            jurisdiction because of a declared federal, state, or local  
            emergency, or an official mutual aid request or training, and  
            in the course and scope of his or her duties in hotels,  
            lodging establishments, eating establishments, or public  
            transportation by being required to pay an extra charge or  
            security deposit for the dog.

          2)Expands the circumstances for the prohibition of  
            discrimination to include when the peace officer, firefighter,  
            or handler is away from his or her home jurisdiction because  
            of an official mutual aid request or training in addition to  
            declared emergencies.

          3)Requires the handler, in addition to the peace officer's law  
            enforcement agency or the firefighter's fire agency, to be  
            liable for any damages to the premises or facilities caused by  
            the search and rescue dog.

          4)Defines "handler of a search and rescue dog" to mean a person  
            in possession of a dog that is in training to become  
            registered and approved as a search and rescue dog, or that is  
            currently registered and approved for tasks, including, but  
            not limited to, locating missing persons, discovering  
            controlled substances, explosives, or cadavers, or locating  
            victims in collapsed structures, and assisting with peace  
            officer on-command searches for suspects and victims at crime  
            scenes.

          5)Defines "search and rescue dog" to mean a dog that has been  
            trained and approved as a search and rescue dog, or that is  
            currently registered and approved for search and rescue work  
            with a search and rescue team affiliated with the California  
            Emergency Management Agency.  The term also includes a dog  
            that is in training to become registered and approved for that  
            work.

           EXISTING LAW  provides that a peace officer or firefighter  
          assigned to a canine unit, who is assigned to duty away from his  
          or her home jurisdiction because of a declared federal, state,  
          or local emergency, and in the course and scope of his or her  
          official duties, may not be discriminated against in hotels,  
          lodging establishments, eating establishments, or public  








                                                                  AB 2243
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          transportation by being required to pay an extra charge or  
          security deposit for the peace officer's or firefighter's dog.   
          Further provides the peace officer's law enforcement agency or  
          the firefighter's fire agency is liable for any damages to the  
          premises or facilities caused by the peace officer's or  
          firefighter's dog.  (Civil Code section 54.25.)

           COMMENTS  :  In support of this important emergency services  
          measure sponsored by the California Emergency Management Agency  
          (Cal-EMA), the author writes in part that:

               The purpose of AB 2243 is to: 1) clarify that the  
               protections also apply during "official mutual aid"  
               deployments and not only during declared disasters;  
               and, 2) add definitions of "registered search and  
               rescue dog team" and "owner or custodian of a search  
               and rescue dog" to existing law in order to extend  
               these same protections to these animals and their  
               handlers that are volunteers legally registered with  
               fire or law enforcement agencies.

               When requested by local jurisdictions, volunteer  
               search and rescue (SAR) canine teams are dispatched by  
               Cal-EMA to support mutual aid operations in a city or  
               county.  SAR canines typically complete up to two  
               years of training before they can meet Cal-EMA's  
               certification requirements, and the dogs are  
               recertified annually to ensure they continue to meet  
               these guidelines. The training is accomplished mostly  
               by volunteers who have expertise in canine training  
               and have a SAR background.  The importance of this  
               year-round service is self-evident, as no one  
               jurisdiction can afford to have sufficient numbers of  
               trained SAR dog teams, thus the ability to move these  
               teams safely around the state, with minimal  
               restrictions, is critical? However, these SAR dog  
               teams often travel long distances and must stay in  
               hotels and other lodging when deployed on assignment.   
               The dogs also may need to accompany their handlers  
               into restaurants and other public buildings because  
               they cannot safely remain inside of an unattended  
               vehicle for extended periods [and this measure ensures  
               appropriate protections against discrimination are in  
               place in these circumstances.] 









                                                                  AB 2243
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           REGISTERED SUPPORT / OPPOSITION  :   

           Support 
           
          California Emergency Management Agency (Cal-EMA) (sponsor)
          California State Sheriffs Association
          Peace Officers Research Association of California (PORAC)

           Opposition 
           
          None on file
           
          Analysis Prepared by  :    Drew Liebert / JUD. / (916) 319-2334