BILL ANALYSIS                                                                                                                                                                                                    







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        |Hearing Date:May 2, 2011           |Bill No:SB                         |
        |                                   |702                                |
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                      SENATE COMMITTEE ON BUSINESS, PROFESSIONS 
                               AND ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT
                          Senator Curren D. Price, Jr., Chair
                                           

                           Bill No:        SB 702Author:Lieu
                     As Amended:April 27, 2011          Fiscal:Yes

        
        SUBJECT:   Dog licensing:  microchip implants. 
        
        SUMMARY:  Requires owners of an animal that is claimed or adopted from 
        a shelter to implant a microchip in their animal upon release. 

        Existing law, Food and Agricultural Code (FAC):
        
        1) Prohibits a public animal control agency or shelter, Society for 
           the Prevention of Cruelty to Animal's shelter, Humane Society 
           shelter or rescue group from selling or giving away a dog or cat 
           that has not been spayed or neutered.  (FAC  30503, 30520, 
           31751.3, 31760) 
         
        2) Imposes fines or civil penalties against the owner of a dog or cat 
           that is impounded by a public pound or private shelter. (FAC  
           30804.7, 31751.7). 

        3) Requires public and private shelters to scan a dog or cat for 
           microchips to identify the owner of the dog or cat.  Where a 
           microchip is found, the public and private shelter shall make 
           reasonable efforts to contact the owner and notify him or her that 
           his or her animal is impounded and available for redemption during 
           the holding period and prior to adoption or euthanasia of an 
           impounded animal. (FAC  31108). 

        This bill:  Requires an owner of an animal that is adopted or 
        impounded and claimed by the owner from a local animal shelter to 
        implant an identifying microchip in the animal upon release, if a 
        microchip is available.  If a microchip is not available for 
        implantation, the owner must do so within 30 days of release of their 





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        animal from the shelter. 

        FISCAL EFFECT:  Unknown. Legislative counsel has keyed this bill as 
        being "fiscal." 

        COMMENTS:
        
        1. Purpose.  This bill is sponsored by  Social Compassion in 
           Legislation  .  According to the Author, every year over a million 
           dogs and cats enter municipal animal shelters costing taxpayers 
           over $300 million annually according to the Cities and Counties 
           Annual Reports submitted to the State Controller's office.  Of 
           these animals, only 13% of them are returned to their owner and 
           over half are euthanized.  The Author states that a "significant 
           source of the problem includes the lack of identification and 
           ability to reunite these animals with their owners." 
         
        2. How Does a Microchip Work?  According to the  American Animal 
           Welfare Society  , a microchip is a computer chip that is programmed 
           with a unique identification number.  The whole device is small 
           enough to fit into a hypodermic needle and is injected under the 
           skin of the animal, where it will stay for the lifetime of the pet. 
            According to the Author, implementing the microchip is essentially 
           the same as administering a vaccine.  A pet may feel a little 
           pinch, and any pain should be over very quickly.  Due to the simple 
           nature of implanting a microchip, a veterinarian is not required; 
           rather a veterinarian technician or a registered veterinarian 
           technician may perform the procedure. 
           
           When a pet is found by an animal shelter or a veterinarian, a 
           scanner is used to detect the pet's microchip.  The scanner will 
           read the unique number associated with the chip which is linked to 
           the owner's contact information in a database.  Opponents have 
           stated that the varying types of scanners make it difficult to 
           ensure that the microchip can be read when the pet is found.  The 
            American Veterinary Medical Association  (AVMA) states that there 
           are three different types of frequencies that are emitted by 
           microchips.  However, international standards for microchips have 
           recently been implemented and universal scanners have been 
           developed which read all types of frequencies.  The microchip is 
           not an active pet tracking device and therefore it is essential for 
           the owner to keep their contact information current with the 
           microchip's manufacturer. 

        3. Cost of Microchipping and the Role of Non-Profit Organizations.  
           According to the Author, the price of implanting a microchip can 





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           vary from $5 - $75.  Several local municipalities and non-profit 
           organizations are offering microchipping at no cost to the owner 
           and other local providers include low cost microchip resources.  
           Additionally, most, if not all veterinarians perform this procedure 
           as well.  The varying costs are due to the fact that veterinarians 
           charge varying fees for microchipping based on the market they are 
           located in.  Also, many municipal animal care facilities routinely 
           host microchipping clinics.  An owner can call the facility that 
           services their area to see if this is offered.  Another resource 
           are local pet suppliers, which often hold monthly microchip 
           clinics.  

        4. Updating Contact Information.  Once a microchip has been implanted, 
           it is important for the pet owner to keep the contact information 
           associated with microchip up to date.  Currently, once a pet owner 
           signs up with the manufacturer to implant a microchip, he or she 
           also agrees to pay a fee to update that information.  Some people 
           do not stay up to date with this information, which may account for 
           the 74.1% success rate in reuniting lost animals with their owners. 
            
                                                       
        5. Public Safety.  Last week in the Los Angeles Times, a story was 
           published about a man in Santa Ana who tortured his dog with a 
           machete.  When the injured dog was discovered, the man stated that 
           the dog was a stray that had been fighting with another dog.  
           Investigators then took the dog to a veterinarian who discovered 
           that the dog had a microchip implanted in it.  The microchip showed 
           that the man who stated that the dog was a stray was actually the 
           owner.  The ability to identify the owner of an adopted animal may 
           be useful in other situations, such as dog fighting, to prevent and 
           penalize animal abuse. 

        6. Backyard Breeding.  According to the ASPCA a backyard breeder is an 
           individual whose pet either gets bred by accident, or who breeds on 
           purpose for a variety of reasons such as a desire to make extra 
           money, for example.  In California, most jurisdictions have pet 
           limit laws which only permit a specific number of pets on one's 
           property.  Therefore, some concerns have been raised that those 
           opposed to microchip implantation are against the practice solely 
           because this could result in alerting animal control of the number 
           of animals that are being kept at a specific property.  While this 
           practice is illegal, discovering illegal conduct is not the purpose 
           of this bill.  Rather, it is to ensure that scarce shelter 
           resources are not overwhelmed and result in high numbers of 
           euthanized animals. 






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        7. Previous Legislation.  In 2001,  SB 236  (O'Connell) was introduced 
           in the Senate which would have required, among other provisions, 
           that the seller of any dog or cat ensure that their dog or cat had 
           been microchipped and that the owner's identification had been 
           entered into a registry maintained by a county, city or city and 
           county agency providing animal control services, or a national 
           registry.  This bill was never set for a hearing in this Committee. 
            In 2007,  AB 1634  (Levine), was amended on the Senate Floor and 
           would have required, among other provisions, the same microchip 
           requirement in SB 236.  This bill failed passage on the Senate 
           Floor and was granted reconsideration but was placed on the Senate 
           inactive file.                                                      
             
             
        8. Arguments in Support.   Social Compassion in Legislation  (SCIL) 
           supports this bill.  SCIL states that microchipping is a safe and 
           effective way to ensure that animals are returned to their owners. 

           In support, the Sponsor cites the AVMA's Website, which gives 
           reasons why other methods of identifying lost animals are not as 
           effective.  According to the Website, "tattooing animals is 
           undesirable because it can produce discomfort and also fade with 
           time or can be altered.  Ear tags are effective and visible means 
           of identification, but can be removed intentionally or by trauma.  
           Hot branding provides permanent identification of livestock, but it 
           elicits a marked pain response followed by local inflammation and 
           increased skin sensitivity for one week."  Additionally, studies 
           have shown that where an animal was microchipped, it was 
           successfully returned to its owner 74.1 % of the time. 

           Other supporters agree that microchipping is a safe and effective 
           way to get the animals back home, or even prevent them from ever 
           even entering the shelter system in the first place.  Additionally, 
           they believe that this requirement will help cities and counties 
           save their dwindling resources through reduced costs resulting from 
           lower euthanasia and faster reunification rates. 

        9. Arguments in Opposition.   California Responsible Pet Owners' 
           Coalition  (CaRPOC) opposes this bill.  CaRPOC states that owners 
           are reluctant to microchip their dogs because studies have shown, 
           "When a dog is mircochipped, the site of implantation may become 
           swollen or infected; the chip may fail or migrate in the animal's 
           body; and tumors and cancers have developed at the site of 
           implanted chips, necessitating amputation or worse."  Additionally, 
           they state that competitors often make their own scanners, which 
           will not read another competitor's chips. 





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        SUPPORT AND OPPOSITION:
        
         Support:  

        Social Compassion in Legislation (SCIL) (Sponsor) 

        Animal Legal Defense Fund  
        Human Society of the United States
        Long Beach, City of 
        Santa Cruz Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals 
        Social Compassion in Legislation (SCIL) (Sponsor) 
        Take Me Home Animal Rescue 

         Opposition:  

        California Responsible Pet Owners' Coalition (CaRPOC)



        Consultant:Bill Gage/Candace Choe