BILL ANALYSIS                                                                                                                                                                                                    

                                                                  SB 135
                                                                  Page 1

          Date of Hearing:   June 23, 2009
          Counsel:                Kimberly A. Horiuchi

                                Juan Arambula, Chair

                      SB 135 (Florez) - As Amended:  May 4, 2009
           SUMMARY  :    Prohibits tail "docking" of cattle, as specified.   
          Specifically, this bill  :   

          1)Provides the prohibition on tail "docking" of cattle shall not  
            apply when the solid part of an animal's tail must be removed  
            in an emergency for the purpose of saving the animal's life or  
            relieving the animal's pain, provided that the emergency  
            treatment is performed by a licensed veterinarian and is  
            performed consistent with the Veterinary Medicine Practice  
            Act, as specified. 

          2)Defines "cattle" as any animal of a bovine species. 

           EXISTING LAW  :

          1)Provides that is a misdemeanor punishable by a maximum of one  
            year in the county jail and a fine of not more than $20,000 to  
            maim, mutilate, torture, or wound a living animal or  
            maliciously or intentionally kill an animal.  [Penal Code  
            Section 597(a).]

          2)States that every person having charge or custody of an animal  
            who overdrives; overloads; overworks; tortures; torments;  
            deprives of necessary sustenance, drink, or shelter; cruelly  
            beats, mutilates, or cruelly kills; or causes or procures any  
            animal to be so overdriven; overloaded; driven when  
            overloaded; overworked; tortured; tormented; deprived of  
            necessary sustenance, drink, shelter; or to be cruelly beaten,  
            mutilated, or cruelly killed is, for every such offense,  
            guilty of a crime punishable as an alternate  
            misdemeanor/felony and by a fine of not more than $20,000.   
            [Penal Code Section 597(b).]

          3)States any person who cuts the solid part of the tail of any  
            horse in the operation known as "docking," or in any other  


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            operation performed for the purpose of shortening the tail of  
            any horse, within the State of California, or procures the  
            same to be done, or imports or brings into this state any  
            docked horse, or horses, or drives, works, uses, races, or  
            deals in any unregistered docked horse, or horses, within the  
            State of California except as provided, is guilty of a  
            misdemeanor.  (Penal Code Section 597n.)

          4)Provides that any person or persons violating any of the  
            provisions related to tail docking, however, shall not be  
            applied to persons owning or possessing any docked purebred  
            stallions and mares imported from foreign countries for  
            breeding or exhibition purposes only, as provided by an act of  
            Congress entitled "An Act Regulating the Importation of  
            Breeding Animals" and approved March 3, 1903, and to docked  
            native-bred stallions and mares brought into California and  
            used for breeding or exhibition purposes only; and provided  
            further, that a description of each such animal so brought  
            into California, together with the date of importation and  
            name and address of importer, be filed with the county clerk  
            of the county where such animal is kept, within 30 days after  
            the importation of such animal.  (Penal Code Section 597r.)

           FISCAL EFFECT  :   Unknown

           COMMENTS  : 

           1)Author's Statement  :  According to the author, "Scientific  
            studies have shown that the mutilation of tail causes serious  
            welfare problems for animals, including distress, pain, and  
            increased fly attacks.  SB 135 would ban the inhumane practice  
            of tail docking.  This practice is simply inhumane and  
            unnecessary.  Tail docking is performed on some dairy cattle  
            in this State, and results in removing more than one-half of a  
            dairy cow's tail without anesthesia.  Even more troubling is  
            the fact that there is no scientific justification for  
            engaging in this inhuman practice.  This practice is cruel,  
            plain and simple.  This is why California law already  
            prohibits tail docking on horses." 

           2)Comment  :  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  


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            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.  Tail docking 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 three to seven 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. 

           3)Proposed Amendments  :  Conceivably, there are instances where a  
            farmer may have to dock a cow's tail in an emergency in order  
            to relieve the animal's pain.  The Committee has discussed the  
            following amendment with the author to address instances where  
            a veterinarian may not be immediately available to render aid  
            to an injured cow: 

          On Page 2, Line 20, include, "and where the procedure is not  
            performed by a licensed veterinarian, a veterinarian must  
            examine the 'docked' tail within a practicable period of  

          According to the Western United Dairymen (WUD), "We understand  
            the author's intent is to ensure California dairies refrain  
            from the practice of tail docking dairy farm animals by way of  
            SB 135.  However, the bill itself can be portrayed as cruel to  
            animals due to the restriction that all health practices  
            caring for the animal must be performed by a licensed  
            veterinarian.  Our members object to this requirement as being  
            inhumane to the animal, if during an emergency situation, a  
            dairy operator must wait for their veterinarian to arrive on  
            the ranch to perform health-related medical procedures.  Many  
            of our ranches are in remote areas of California; waiting long  
            hours, or even days, for a veterinarian to arrive and care and  
            treat livestock creates a serious concern for the comfort and  
            well-being of the animal.  WUD's membership joins with the  
            California Farm Bureau in requesting the following amendments  
            to the May 4, 2009 version of the bill:  strike from line 16  


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            and 17 on page 2, 'is performed by a licensed veterinarian  
            and'.  For these reasons, Western United Dairymen is opposed  
            to SB 135 as long as the above language stays in this piece of  
            legislation.  WUD will remove their opposition if the author  
            and sponsor accept the amendment."  The California Farm Bureau  
            Federation and the California Cattlemen's Association have  
            also taken an "oppose unless amended" position to strike the  
            words, "is performed by a licensed veterinarian and". 

           4)Arguments in Support  :  According to  The Humane Society  , "With  
            approximately 1.8 million cows raised for milk on 2,200 farms,  
            California is the nation's leading dairy state.  Scientific  
            research does not support claims that tail-docked cows have  
            better hygiene or improved milk quality.  And comprehensive  
            research by California animal scientists and veterinarians  
            found that 'the available data do not support claims that  
            docking improves the dairy workers' comfort or safety or the  
            health of cleanliness of the cow's udder'.  The periodic  
            trimming of long hairs of the tail is an effective and humane  
            alternative.  Scientific studies have shown that the  
            mutilation causes serious welfare problems for animals,  
            including distress, pain and increased fly attacks.  The  
            practices benefits neither animal nor human health.  The  
            American Veterinary Medical Association, Canadian Veterinary  
            Medical Association, experts, scientists, and representatives  
            of industry have all opposed and criticized tail docking of  
            dairy cows and several European countries have banned the  
            practice.  With the recent overwhelming passage of Proposition  
            2, it is clear that Californians want to see an end to the  
            most egregious practices used on factory farms."

           5)Prior Legislation  :  

             a)   AB 1857 (Koretz), Chapter 876, Statutes of 2004, made it  
               is a misdemeanor, punishable by imprisonment in a county  
               jail for a period not to exceed one year, by a fine of   
               $10,000, or by both, to dewclaw any cat that is a member of  
               an exotic or native wild cat species.  
             b)   AB 418 (Koretz) of the 2005-06 Legislative Session,  
               would have made it a misdemeanor for any person to perform,  
               or otherwise procure or arrange for the performance of, an  
               ear cropping procedure on any dog within California, except  
               as performed by a licensed veterinarian solely for a  
               therapeutic purpose. 


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          American Society for the Prevention
            of Cruelty to Animals
          Animal Place
          Animal Protection and Rescue League 
          Born Free USA
          California Animal Association
          California Veterinary Medical Association
          Farm Sanctuary 
          Food Empowerment Project
          Humane Farming Action Fund
          Humane Society
          League of Humane Voters 
          Paw PAC
          Paw Project
          Pew Commission on Industrial Farm Animal Production
          San Diego Animal Advocates
          United Animal Nations
          California Federation for Animal Legislation


          Analysis Prepared by  :    Kimberly Horiuchi / PUB. S. / (916)