BILL ANALYSIS                                                                                                                                                                                                    

                                                                  SB 135
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          Date of Hearing:   July 1, 2009

                              Cathleen Galgiani, Chair
                     SB 135 (Florez) - As Amended:  June 25, 2009

           SENATE VOTE  :   27-12
          PUBLIC SAFETY       4-1         
          |Ayes:|Amminano, Furutani, Hill, |     |                          |
          |     |Ma                        |     |                          |
          |     |                          |     |                          |
          |Nays:|Gilmore                   |     |                          |
          |     |                          |     |                          |
          SUBJECT  :  Animal abuse: cattle: tail docking.

           SUMMARY  :  Makes it a misdemeanor to cut the solid part of a  
          cattle's tail, except when it must be removed in an emergency  
          for the purpose of saving the animal's life or to relieve the  
          animal's pain, and it is done in accordance with the Veterinary  
          Medicine Practices Act (Act).  Such actions are required to be  
          reported to the California Department of Food and Agriculture  
          (CDFA) within 30 days.  

           EXISTING LAW  states 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.  Any  
          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 for the above  
          acts, is guilty of a crime punishable as an alternate  
          misdemeanor/felony and by a fine of not more than $20,000 for  
          every such offense.

          Statutes state that any person who cuts the solid part of the  
          tail of any horse in the operation known as "docking," or in any  
          other operation performed for the purpose of shortening the tail  
          of any horse, within California, or procures the same to be  


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          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 California, except  
          when registered with the county clerk, is guilty of a  
          misdemeanor.  Unless stated otherwise, a misdemeanor is  
          punishable by a fine of up to $1,000 or up to six months in  
          county jail, or both, the fine and jail.

          The Act provides guidelines and requirements for the recommended  
          treatment of animals and who may treat animals and under what  
          conditions animals may be treated.

           FISCAL EFFECT :  The Senate Appropriations Committee, pursuant to  
          Senate Rule 28.8, determined that this bill had no significant  
          additional state costs, will not require appropriation of state  
          funds, and will cause no significant reduction in revenues.   
          Subsequent to this Senate analysis, amendments have added a  
          reporting requirement.

           COMMENTS  :  According to the author, the practice of cutting the  
          meaty portion of a cattle's tail, commonly known as "tail  
          docking," is arcane, and scientific studies have shown "that the  
          mutilation causes serious welfare problems for animals,  
          including distress, pain, and increased fly attacks."  He  
          further states that the California Dairy Quality Assurance  
          Program's Dairy Welfare Evaluation Guide advises that there is  
          no benefit to tail docking normal healthy tails in dairy cattle  
          based upon peer-reviewed scientific studies and governmental  
          sponsored research.

          The sponsor of this bill, The Humane Society of the United  
          States, states in a 2005-06 survey of 113 dairy facilities in  
          the northern, central, and northeastern United States, that  
          82.3% practice tail docking.  Their support letter states that  
          California has approximately 1.7 million dairy animals on an  
          estimated 2,200 facilities, and recent industry estimates that  
          docking is practiced on 10% to 15% of those dairies.

          According to the American Veterinarian Medical Association  
          (AVMA), tail docking is a management practice used within the  
          dairy industry.  The dairy industry in New Zealand developed the  
          process during the early 1900s as an attempt to reduce the  
          incidence of leptospirosis in milking personnel.  The stated  
          goals of tail docking include improved comfort for milking  
          personnel, enhanced udder cleanliness, reduced incidence of  


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          mastitis, and improved milk quality and milk hygiene.  Tail  
          docking is usually performed on young heifers or calves near  
          weaning age, removing 1/3 and 2/3 of the tail.  A variety of  
          methods have been used to dock tails in dairy cattle, including  
          cauterizing docking irons, application of elastrator bands, use  
          of emasculators, and surgical excision.  One study stated that  
          no differences were observed in the behavior of heifers docked  
          with, or without, epidural anesthesia, and concluded that tail  
          docking was associated with minimal discomfort in heifers, and  
          that use of epidural anesthesia provided no benefit.  The  
          application of elastrator bands is the most commonly employed  

          Tail docking is a relatively common procedure in dairies in New  
          Zealand, and regulations determine the minimum length for  
          docking.  This practice has been increasing in the United  
          States, while in Denmark, Germany, Scotland, Sweden, the United  
          Kingdom, and some Australian states, tail docking is prohibited.  
           In Canada, national guidelines recommend that the procedure be  
          performed on young calves by trained personnel with the proper  
          equipment and attention to pain relief.  The Canadian Veterinary  
          Medical Association opposes the practice of docking of dairy  
          cattle for management purposes.  Current AVMA policy includes a  
          statement of opposition to tail docking of cattle.

          In summary, AVMA states that anecdotal reports of the benefits  
          of tail docking are not currently supported by data in the  
          scientific literature.  Tail docking has been experimentally  
          shown to cause minimal adverse physiologic effects; however, fly  
          avoidance behaviors are more frequent in docked cattle,  
          suggesting potential long-term adverse behavioral effects.

          A University of California Cooperative Extension Dairy advisor  
          conducted a survey earlier this year of large animal  
          veterinarians regarding the practice of tail docking by central  
          valley dairies.  Preliminary results provided by ten veterinary  
          practitioners in the San Joaquin Valley included 103 dairies  
          that average a herd size of 2,500 cows.  Eleven dairies were  
          docking tails and four dairies used to dock tails but have  
          abandoned the practice.  In this preliminary survey, 89.3% of  
          the dairies are not docking tails and 86.2% of the cows are in  
          dairy operations where tail docking is not practiced.  The  
          advisor concluded that the results from this survey suggest tail  
          docking is an uncommon practice in California.


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          While this is an uncommon practice among California dairy  
          operations, it is not a practice in the California beef  
          industry.  According to the California Cattlemen's Association,  
          the only instances of tail docking on beef animals occurs when  
          animals injure their tail.  The Committee may wish to narrow  
          this bill to prohibit the tail docking practice on dairy animals  

          Concerns have been raised over the tail docking report  
          requirement to CDFA, stating that it is not clear who is  
          required to do the reporting, and that it creates an unnecessary  
          bureaucracy, while providing no additional welfare to the  
          animals.  As written, not reporting a tail docking incident  
          would be considered a crime punishable as a misdemeanor, with  
          each conviction being a fine of up to $1,000 and up to six  
          months in county jail, or both, the fine and jail.  The  
          Committee may wish to consider if the severity of the penalty is  
          appropriate for not reporting.
          Additionally, there is concern over the confidentiality for  
          dairy producers, cattle operators, and veterinarians who may  
          report tail docking incidents.  Confidentially of veterinary  
          medical records was addressed by SB 490 (Kelly), Chapter 418,  
          Statutes of 1999.  That bill provided that veterinarians would  
          own the records but the client would own the information,  
          thereby protecting these medical records in a similar fashion to  
          human medical records.  This has prevented unauthorized access  
          to animal owners' information through other required reporting.   
          The Committee may wish to attach a confidentiality clause to the  
          reporting requirement.
          Those with concerns with this bill have also stated that the  
          author indicated in the previous policy committee that he  
          intends to add fee language into the bill.  The Committee may  
          wish to query the author regarding any additional amendments he  
          is considering.  
           Prior Legislation  :  AB 1857 (Koretz), Chapter 876, Statutes of  
          2004, made it 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 declaw any cat that is a member of an  
          exotic or native wild cat species.  
          AB 418 (Koretz) of 2005-06, would have made it a misdemeanor for  
          any person to perform, or otherwise procure or arrange for the  


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          performance of, an ear cropping procedure on any dog within  
          California, except as performed by a licensed veterinarian  
          solely for a therapeutic purpose. 



          The Humane Society of the United States (Sponsor)
          American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals
          Animal Place
          Animal Protection and Rescue League
          Born Free USA
          California Animal Association
          California Federation for Animal Legislation
          Farm Sanctuary
          Food Empowerment Project
          League of Humane Voters
          Paw Pac
          San Diego Animal Advocates
          The Paw Project
          The Humane Farming Action Fund
          United Animal Nations
            Support If Amended
          California Veterinary Medical Association
          Opposition Unless Amended

          California Cattlemen's Association
          California Farm Bureau Federation 
          Western United Dairymen

           Analysis Prepared by  :    Jim Collin / AGRI. / (916) 319-2084