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  
           (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  
           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  
           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  
           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  
           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  

           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  

          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.