BILL ANALYSIS                                                                                                                                                                                                    



                        SENATE FOOD and AGRICULTURE COMMITTEE
                            Senator Dean Florez, Chairman

          BILL NO:    SB 135                    HEARING:  4/21/09
          AUTHOR:   Florez                      FISCAL:  Yes
          VERSION:  4/13/09                     CONSULTANT:  John Chandler
          
                         Animal abuse: cattle: tail docking.

          BACKGROUND AND EXISTING LAW

          Developed in New Zealand in the early 1900s, tail docking is the  
          practice of removing part of the solid portion of an animal's  
          tail.  In dairy cattle, tail docking is alleged to improve  
          milking personnel comfort, cow utter cleanliness, and heightened  
          milk quality.  Further, tail docking is alleged to promote  
          milking personnel health through the prevention of leptospirosis  
          a bacterial disease spread by urine from infected animals via  
          contact with skin abrasions or wounds or contact with mucous  
          membranes of the eyes, nose, and mouth.  

          The practice of tail docking has varying restrictions around the  
          world.  It is prohibited in Denmark, Germany, Scotland, Sweden,  
          and the United Kingdom.  Canada recommends that only competent  
          personnel perform the procedure, and Australia has varying  
          degrees of regulation from requiring that veterinarians perform  
          the procedure to outright prohibition.  

          In the United States, cattle are docked near weaning, most  
          commonly by rubber band constriction.  The banded tail detaches  
          after 3 to 7 weeks, removing one-third to two-thirds of the  
          tail.

          California law makes the practice of tail docking horses or the  
          importation of tail-docked horses a misdemeanor.

          PROPOSED LAW

          SB 135 would make the practice of tail docking cattle a  
          misdemeanor unless performed by a veterinarian for veterinary  
          purposes.  The veterinarian docking must be performed on an  
          anesthetized animal to minimize pain, in sanitary conditions,  
          and in such a way as to minimize long-term pain and suffering.

          COMMENTS

          1.According to the sponsors of the bill, tail docking causes  
            acute pain to the animal at the time of docking.  In addition  
            to the pain of the actual procedure, docked cattle lose the  




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            ability to protect themselves from flies and other insects as  
            they no longer have sufficient tail to swat away the insects.   

            A recent University of California study found that tail  
            docking does not add any improvement in dairy worker safety  
            and comfort or the health and cleanliness of the cow's udder.   


          2.In a recent report by the Humane Society of the United States  
            (HSUS), they offer an alternative to tail docking of improved  
            handling, housing management, and seasonal switch trimming.   
            The switch being the long hairs growing at the end portion of  
            the cow's tail.  While the bill defines docking as cutting the  
            solid part of the tail, the committee may want to consider  
            whether the tail docking definition would include switch  
            trimming.
           
          3.The Senate Rules Committee has doubled referred this bill to  
            the Senate Public Safety Committee as the second committee of  
            referral.  Therefore, if this measure is approved by this  
            committee, the motion should include an action to re-refer the  
            bill to the Senate Committee on Public Safety.

          SUPPORT
          
          Animal Place
          Animal Protection and Rescue League
          Born Free USA
          California Veterinary Medical Association
          Farm Sanctuary
          Food Empowerment Project
          Humane Society of the United States
          Humane Society Veterinary Medical Association
          League of Humane Voters
          Paw Pac
          San Diego Animal Advocates
          The Humane Farming Action Fund
          United Animal Nations

          OPPOSITION
          
          None received