BILL ANALYSIS Senate Appropriations Committee Fiscal Summary Senator Christine Kehoe, Chair 250 (Florez) Hearing Date: 05/11/2009 Amended: 05/05/2009 Consultant: Mark McKenzie Policy Vote: Loc Gov 3-1 _________________________________________________________________ ____ BILL SUMMARY: SB 250 would restrict the ownership of an unsterilized dog or cat and require surgical sterilization of the animal in specified circumstances. _________________________________________________________________ ____ Fiscal Impact (in thousands) Major Provisions 2009-10 2010-11 2011-12 Fund Unaltered dog license potentially reimbursable mandated costs,General (local mandate) unknown, likely moderate costs Impact on animal population Potential short-term increase in local costs Local (local shelter costs/savings) and long-term local savings (see staff comments) Animal adoption mandateindeterminable impact on existing General reimbursable mandate (see staff comments) _________________________________________________________________ ____ STAFF COMMENTS: This bill meets the criteria for referral to the Suspense File. With respect to dogs , SB 250 would: Prohibit ownership, keeping, or harboring an unsterilized dog in violation of this bill. Require the owner or custodian of a dog that is at least six months old to have the dog sterilized, provide a certificate of sterility, or obtain an unaltered dog license. Provide an exemption from the sterilization requirement for a dog with a high likelihood to suffer serious harm or death if surgically sterilized, as determined by a licensed veterinarian. Requires the owner or custodian of a dog that can safely be sterilized more than 30 days after receiving the above exemption, as specified in the veterinarian's confirmation, to apply for an unaltered dog license. Authorize the denial or revocation of an unaltered dog license under specified conditions, requires a licensing agency to use existing procedures for appeals, and authorizes the agency to establish procedures to appeal the denial or revocation. Requires an owner or custodian who is offering an unsterilized dog of at least four months old for sale, trade, or adoption to include a valid unaltered dog license or establish compliance with this bill. Authorize the imposition of a penalty upon an owner or custodian of a dog in violation of this bill's provisions only if the dog is unlicensed, unsterilized, and the person is concurrently cited for one or more existing violations, as specified. Require an owner or custodian subject to this penalty to sterilize the unaltered dog. Explicitly authorizes an unsterilized dog to roam at large if it is lawfully being used as a hunting dog. Page 2 SB 250 (Florez) With respect to cats , SB 250 would: Prohibit a person who owns, keeps, or harbors an unsterilized cat that is at least six months old from permitting the cat to roam at large. Require an owner or custodian of an unsterilized cat to sterilize the animal or provide certification of sterilization. Staff notes that the mandatory sterilization provision appears to conflict with other provisions in this section of the bill. Provide an exemption from the sterilization requirement for a cat with a high likelihood to suffer serious harm or death if surgically sterilized, as specified. Require an owner or custodian who offers any unsterilized cat for sale, trade, or adoption to provide the licensing agency with the name and address of the transferee within 10 days, if the jurisdiction requires the licensing of cats. With respect to both dogs and cats , SB 250 would require the owner or custodian of an unlicensed, unaltered dog or an unaltered cat that is impounded to do one of the following in addition to satisfying any requirements for the release of the animal: Provide written proof of the animal's sterilization, if an assessment is not obvious. Have the animal sterilized by a veterinarian associated with the licensing agency at the expense of the owner or custodian, who would also be responsible for other fees associated with any extraordinary care. Arrange to have the animal sterilized by another licensed veterinarian. At the discretion of the licensing agency, the animal may be released to the owner or custodian upon payment of a refundable deposit or signing a statement committing to sterilize the animal or scheduling the sterilization within 10 days after the release. SB 250 would also require the owner or custodian of the animal to pay for established costs of impoundment, including daily board costs, vaccinations, medication, and any other diagnostic or therapeutic applications. All fines and costs collected under this bill would be paid to the licensing agency to defray implementation and enforcement costs. Unaltered dog license Existing law provides for the licensing of dogs by local agencies, authorizes license fees to be raised at the local level, and requires that a license for a dog that is spayed or neutered be no more than half the cost of a license issued for an unaltered dog. SB 250 would require the owner of an unsterilized dog to obtain an unaltered dog license and sets certain conditions under which a local enforcement agency may deny or revoke such a license. The bill does not explicitly provide for the issuance or revocation of an unaltered dog license, including the authority to charge an application fee. Legislative Counsel has keyed the bill as a state-mandated local program due to the implication that local agencies may be required to establish processes and procedures relative to an unaltered dog licensing program, specifically with respect to the denial or revocation of a license. To the extent that the Commission on State Mandates (COSM) determines that costs associated with these duties are reimbursable, this bill could result in moderate General Fund costs. Staff suggests that the bill be amended to provide local enforcement agencies with guidance related to the unaltered dog license, including explicit authority to charge a reasonable fee sufficient to cover costs associated with an unaltered dog licensing program. Page 3 SB 250 (Florez) Impact on overpopulation The Legislature has declared that the overpopulation of dogs and cats is "a problem of great public concern," noting that overpopulation causes public health problems, affects local animal control departments, and results in unnecessary euthanization (AB 1856 (Vincent), Chapter 747 of 1998). The Legislature also declared that the most effective solution is spaying and neutering. Some cities and counties already have mandatory spay and neuter ordinances. SB 250 is intended to address the problem of dog and cat overpopulation by imposing statewide regulation for ownership of an unsterilized animal and requiring surgical sterilization in certain circumstances. To the extent conformance with the bill's requirements reduces the population of unwanted animals and results in a corresponding decrease in the number of cats and dogs impounded to animal shelters, local governments could realize operational savings. It is likely that such results would take several years. In the short-term, these costs could increase to the extent that irresponsible pet owners would surrender their animals to a shelter rather than pay for a surgical sterilization procedure, which would somewhat increase shelter populations and related costs. Potential impact on existing mandate SB 1785 (Hayden),Chapter 752 of 1998, increased, from three to six, the number of days that public and private animal shelters are required to keep animals before they are euthanized. The State Controller's Local Agencies Mandated Costs Manual provides guidance to local government entities for reimbursable mandates. As it pertains to the Animal Adoption mandate, the 2007-08 manual specifies that claimants will be reimbursed for the increased costs associated with the following activities: construction or rehabilitation of facilities, as specified; providing care and maintenance for the increased holding period for impounded dogs and cats that are ultimately euthanized; making the animal available for owner redemption outside of regular business hours; verification of the temperament of feral cats; posting of lost and found lists; maintenance of non-medical records for impounded animals; and providing necessary and prompt veterinary care for abandoned animals that are ultimately euthanized. These guidelines also explicitly prohibit reimbursement for the care and maintenance and veterinary care of certain populations of dogs and cats, including owner relinquished animals and stray and abandoned dogs and cats that are not euthanized. Claimants are also not entitled to reimbursement for certain veterinary procedures, including rabies vaccinations and spay or neuter surgery and treatment. State reimbursable costs for this mandate currently exceed $20 million annually. To the extent SB 250 achieves the long-term goal of reducing unwanted populations of dogs and cats, resulting in a reduction in shelter costs as described above, the state could realize a portion of the savings through reduced claims for this mandate. To the extent that irresponsible pet owners relinquish their animals rather than pay for a sterilization procedure, there could be a short-term increase in shelter populations and related reimbursable costs. However, some of the costs associated with any increases in shelter populations caused by this bill would not be reimbursable; the guidelines stipulate that care, maintenance, and veterinary care are not reimbursable with respect to animals that are relinquished. Staff notes that the impact of SB 250 on the existing reimbursable Animal Adoption mandate is speculative and indirect at best.