BILL ANALYSIS                                                                                                                                                                                                    

                                                                  SB 250
                                                                  Page  1

          Date of Hearing:   July 15, 2009

                                Kevin De Leon, Chair

                     SB 250 (Florez) - As Amended:  May 28, 2009 

          Policy Committee:                              Business and  
          Professions  Vote:                            6 - 4 

          Urgency:     No                   State Mandated Local Program:  
          Yes    Reimbursable:              No


          This bill restricts the ownership of unsterilized dogs and cats  
          and requires surgical sterilization of the animal in specified  
          circumstances.  Specifically, this bill: 

          1)Prohibits a person from owning, keeping, or harboring an  
            unsterilized dog, unless they have obtained an unaltered dog  

          2)Prohibits a person from allowing their cat to roam at large  
            unless they have been sterilized or the individual has  
            obtained a certificate of sterility.

          3)Requires an owner of an unsterilized dog to have the dog  
            sterilized by the age of six months, obtain a certificate of  
            sterility, or, if provided by an ordinance of the responsible  
            city, county, or city and county, obtain an unaltered dog  

          4)Requires the owner of an unsterilized dog or cat that has been  
            impounded to have the animal sterilized or provide proof of  
            sterility when retrieving the animal.

          5)Authorizes local governments to sterilize any unaltered cat or  
            dog that is picked up in violation of a local animal control  
            ordinance and to charge the owner of the pet for the cost of  
            the surgery.

          6)Exempts from the requirements of this bill any dog or cat with  
            a high likelihood, due to age or infirmity, of suffering  
            serious bodily harm or death if surgically sterilized and the  


                                                                  SB 250
                                                                  Page  2

            owner or custodian shall obtain written confirmation of this  
            fact from a veterinarian licensed in this state.  

          7)Specifies that all costs and fines collected pursuant to this  
            bill shall be paid to the licensing agency for the purpose of  
            defraying the cost of the implementation and enforcement of  
            this bill.

           FISCAL EFFECT  

          1)The state's animal adoption mandate currently costs more than  
            $20 million annually to reimburse local government shelters'  
            cost to care for impounded animals.  Requiring owners of cats  
            and dogs to sterilize their animals or pay for a more  
            expensive unsterilized animal license, could result in more  
            animals being abandoned or surrendered because of the owner's  
            inability to afford sterilization or increased fees and fines.  
             Under the current mandate, the state only reimburses shelters  
            for the cost of caring for animals that are euthanized, not  
            for the cost of caring for animals that are ultimately  
            adopted. While exact figures are not available, studies show  
            that at least 60% of animals that enter shelters are  
            ultimately euthanized. A modest two percent increase in  
            shelter costs could result in $400,000 in additional GF costs.  

          2)To the extent conformance with the bill's requirements,  
            eventually reduces the number of cats and dogs impounded to  
            animal shelters, local governments could realize operational  
            savings and thus may reduce the GF reimbursement for the local  
            mandate over the long term. 

          3)It is assumed that enforcement of the bill's provisions will  
            be conducted by local animal control agencies in the course of  
            performing their existing enforcement duties, and generally on  
            a complaint-driven basis.

          4)One of the items under discussion in the 2009-10 budget is  
            suspending the current animal adoption mandate which requires  
            local animal shelters to hold their pets for four to six days  
            before euthanizing them.  If that mandate is suspended, there  
            would likely be no potential GF costs or savings associated  
            with this legislation for 2009-10.



                                                                  SB 250
                                                                  Page  3

           1)Purpose  . According to the author, it costs California  
            taxpayers approximately $250 million each year to house and  
            euthanize dogs and cats. The author contends that part of the  
            problem is that there are few incentives for pet owners to  
            license their animals - which would ensure fewer lost or  
            roaming pets.  In addition, local animal shelters are  
            overwhelmed by the state's pet overpopulation problem  
            (approximately one million dogs and cats enter our shelters  
            each year) because there are few laws which discourage  
            over-breeding and no existing laws that encourage  
            sterilization of non-breeding animals. 

            The author believes that SB 250 would help reduce the number  
            of unwanted pets that roam the streets and end up in shelters,  
            as well as encourage responsible pet ownership by requiring  
            owners to license and sterilize their animals or purchase an  
            unaltered license if they intend to keep their pets intact.

           2)Existing Spay/Neuter Programs  . In 1995, the county of Santa  
            Cruz implemented an ordinance requiring cats and dogs over six  
            months old to be spayed or neutered unless an unaltered animal  
            certificate is issued. This certificate is available to anyone  
            meeting specified criteria, such as not having any  
            animal-related convictions within a certain amount of time and  
            providing a proper environment for the animal. The ordinance  
            also requires these owners to furnish the director of animal  
            control services with a statement agreeing to have only one  
            litter per year unless expressly permitted by a veterinarian  
            to have up to two litters a year (cats only). The ordinance  
            also exempts from the certificate requirement service dogs,  
            law enforcement dogs, herding dogs, rescue dogs or animals  
            that can not be spayed or neutered due to health reasons.  
            Supporters of this bill provided information showing that by  
            2003, intake of cats and dogs into Santa Cruz county shelters  
            declined by 60% and the number of euthanized animals declined  
            by 75%.

            Many state and local municipalities have implemented publicly  
            funded spay/neuter programs that include varying degrees of  
            increased licensure fees with mandatory spaying and neutering  
            of cats and dogs. New Hampshire implemented a statewide  
            publicly funded spay and neuter program in 1994. Between 1994  
            and 2000, the state's eight largest shelters admitted 31,000  
            fewer dogs and cats than in the six years preceding the  


                                                                  SB 250
                                                                  Page  4

            program--saving an estimated $2.2 million statewide. Over this  
            time period, that state's euthanasia rate dropped 75%. New  
            Hampshire's program targets cats and dogs living in low-income  
            households. Almost all funding for the program comes from a  
            small surcharge on dog licenses issued throughout the state  
            and revenue from a specialty license plate. 

           3)Arguments in Support  . The City of Santa Rosa writes in  
            support, "One of the biggest issues that we face in animal  
            control in this county, as I am sure in others, is the number  
            of animals that we need to euthanize, particularly cats.  We  
            have tried a number of voluntary programs and educational  
            programs to encourage spay/neuter.  This bill would provide  
            the City's animal control contractor, the County of Sonoma,  
            with additional tools to address this issue."

           4)Arguments in Opposition  . In opposition to the bill, the  
            California Farm Bureau Federation writes, "The specific  
            challenges created by SB 250 relate to the provision that  
            allows intact licenses to be denied for owners who have  
            'violated a state law, or a city, county, or other local  
            governmental provisions relating to the care and control of  
            animals.'  For example, a dog guarding livestock that chases  
            away a predator from the flock may leave the property in that  
            chase and could be found to be running at large.  One  
            violation would be grounds to deny the dog owner from ever  
            owning dogs for breeding and would force the sterilization of  
            dogs that may possess valuable working traits.  Farm Bureau is  
            also concerned about the potential for overzealous enforcement  
            actions taken against our members who may leave their dogs in  
            the back of a pickup while running errands."

           5)Related Legislation  . AB 241 (Nava) of 2009 makes it a  
            misdemeanor for an individual or business that buys or sells  
            dogs or cats to have more than a combined total of 50  
            unsterilized dogs and cats, as specified.  This bill is  
            pending in the Senate Public Safety Committee.

            AB 1634 (Levine) of 2008 would have enacted the California  
            Responsible Pet Ownership Act which specifies that a person  
            who owns a dog or cat that is not licensed (or is improperly  
            licensed) and that has not been spayed or neutered may be  
            cited and, if cited, must pay civil penalties.  That bill  
            failed passage on the Senate Floor.


                                                                  SB 250
                                                                  Page  5

            SB 861 (Speier; Chapter 668, Statutes of 2005) allows cities  
            and counties to enact breed-specific ordinances for mandatory  
            spaying and neutering and breeding restrictions.   
            Additionally, this bill provides for increased reporting to  
            the State Public Health Veterinarian of dog bite data and  
            other information by local jurisdictions that make use of the  
            authorization provided by the bill.

           Analysis Prepared by  :    Julie Salley-Gray / APPR. / (916)