BILL ANALYSIS                                                                                                                                                                                                    



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          Date of Hearing:   June 19, 2012

                           ASSEMBLY COMMITTEE ON JUDICIARY
                                  Mike Feuer, Chair
                     SB 1229 (Pavley) - As Amended:  May 10, 2012

           SENATE VOTE :  37-0

           SUBJECT  :  RENTAL PROPERTY: RENTALS: ANIMALS
           
          KEY ISSUE  :  SHOULD A LANDLORD BE PROHIBITED FROM IMPOSING 
          CONDITIONS ON OCCUPANCY THAT MIGHT CAUSE ANY ANIMAL ALLOWED ON 
          THE PREMISES TO BE DEVOCALIZED OR DECLAWED?

           FISCAL EFFECT  :  As currently in print this bill is keyed 
          non-fiscal.

                                      SYNOPSIS

          This bill seeks to prohibit landlords and other persons who own 
          or manage real property from imposing conditions on occupancy of 
          the property that might cause an animal that is allowed on the 
          premises to be devocalized or declawed.  Under this bill, 
          landlords and property owners are broadly prohibited from taking 
          certain actions that might put people in the untenable position 
          of having to choose between their housing accommodations or 
          having their pet cat or dog undergo a declawing or 
          devocalization procedure.  The bill also seeks to prohibit 
          advertising of property available for occupancy in a manner 
          designed to discourage application for occupancy of that real 
          property because the applicant's animal has not been devocalized 
          or dec1awed.  These provisions only apply when an animal in 
          question is already allowed on the premises; thus this bill does 
          not apply if the landlord has a no-pets policy, nor does it 
          compel landlords to accept pets in any case.  Violators of these 
          prohibitions are subject to a civil penalty of not more than 
          $1,000 per animal.  The bill is supported by a number of animal 
          advocacy organizations, veterinarians, California cities, and 
          tenant advocates, among others.  It is opposed by the nonprofit 
          Animal Council, who believe the bill is intended to 
          de-legitimize elective veterinary procedures that are otherwise 
          lawful in California, and who also contend this bill would cause 
          more landlords to adopt no-pet policies, thus reducing housing 
          available to pet owners.









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           SUMMARY  :  Prohibits landlords from imposing conditions on 
          occupancy of real property that might cause an animal that is 
          allowed on the premises to be devocalized or declawed.  
          Specifically,  this bill  :    

          1)Defines "devocalizing" to mean performing, procuring, or 
            arranging for any surgical procedure, such as a vocal 
            cordectomy, to remove an animal's vocal chords or to prevent 
            the normal function of an animal's vocal chords. 

          2)Defines "declawing" to mean performing, procuring, or 
            arranging for any procedure, such as an onychectomy, 
            tendonectomy, or phalangectomy, to remove or to prevent the 
            normal function of an animal's claw or claws. 

          3)Prohibits a person or corporation that occupies, owns, 
            manages, or provides services in connection with any real 
            property, and that allows an animal on the premises, from 
            doing any of the following:

             a)   Advertise, through any means, the availability of real 
               property for occupancy in a manner designed to discourage 
               application for occupancy of that real property because the 
               applicant's animal has not been devocalized or dec1awed. 

             b)   Refuse to allow the occupancy of any real property, 
               refuse to negotiate the occupancy of any real property, or 
               otherwise make unavailable or deny to any other person the 
               occupancy of any real property because of that person's 
               refusal to devocalize or declaw any animal. 

             c)   Require any tenant or occupant of real property to 
               devocalize or declaw any animal allowed on the premises.

          4)Permits a city or district attorney, other law enforcement 
            prosecutorial entity, or any person harmed by a violation of 
            these provisions to enforce these provisions and sue for 
            declaratory relief, injunctive relief, or imposition of a 
            civil penalty of $1,000 per animal for every violation, to be 
            paid to the person or entity that is entitled to bring an 
            action under this act.

          5)Makes legislative findings and declarations.

           EXISTING LAW  :  








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          1)Prohibits any person from performing, or otherwise procuring 
            or arranging for the performance of, surgical claw removal, 
            declawing, onychectomy, or tendonectomy on any cat that is a 
            member of an exotic or native wild cat species, and from 
            otherwise altering such a cat's toes, claws, or paws to 
            prevent the normal function of the cat's toes, claws, or paws, 
            unless the procedure is performed solely for a therapeutic 
            purpose.  (Penal Code Section 597.6(a).)

          2)Provides that any person who violates the above prohibition is 
            guilty of a misdemeanor punishable by imprisonment in a county 
            jail for a period not to exceed one year, by a fine of ten 
            thousand dollars ($10,000), or both.  (Penal Code Section 
            597.6(b).)

          3)Prohibits, generally, discrimination and related conduct with 
            respect to the rental or sale of housing accommodations on the 
            basis of a person's race, color, religion, sex, sexual 
            orientation, marital status, national origin, ancestry, 
            familial status, and other factors.  (Gov. Code Section 
            12955.)

           COMMENTS  :  This bill seeks to prohibit landlords and other 
          persons who own or manage real property from imposing conditions 
          on occupancy of the property that might cause an animal that is 
          allowed on the premises to be devocalized or declawed.  Under 
          this bill, landlords and property owners are broadly prohibited 
          from taking certain actions that might put people in the 
          untenable position of having to choose between their housing 
          accommodations or having their pet cat or dog undergo a 
          declawing or devocalization procedure.  Among other things, the 
          bill seeks to prohibit advertising of property available for 
          occupancy in a manner designed to discourage application for 
          occupancy of that real property because the applicant's animal 
          has not been devocalized or dec1awed.

           Background on declawing and devocalization.   Onychectomy 
          ("declawing") is an operation to remove an animal's claws by 
          amputating the end bones of the animal's toes.  The operation is 
          most commonly done to household cats, but on occasion is done to 
          other animals.  Except where medically necessary, the practice 
          of declawing has been prohibited in other countries, including 
          Australia, Brazil, Germany, Switzerland, Austria, and the United 
          Kingdom.  








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          In California, eight cities - West Hollywood, San Francisco, 
          Santa Monica, Los Angeles, Beverly Hills, Berkeley, Burbank, and 
          Culver City, passed ordinances banning the practice of 
          declawing.  The ability for additional cities to pass ordinances 
          was limited by SB 762 (Aanestad), Ch. 16, Stats. 2009, which 
          made it unlawful for a city to prohibit a healing arts licensee 
          (veterinarian) from engaging in any act or performing any 
          procedure that falls within the professionally recognized scope 
          of that licensee (declawing).  That bill grandfathered in 
          ordinances which were in effect prior to January 1, 2010. 

          While declawing generally applies to cats, devocalizing (also 
          known as "debarking") most commonly applies to dogs and is an 
          operation to remove tissue from the animal's vocal cords so as 
          to permanently reduce the volume of its vocalizations.  The 
          practice is illegal in New Jersey and Massachusetts.

           Stated Need for the Bill.   The author has submitted to the 
          Committee a number of examples of published rental listings 
          which indicate some landlords apparently are engaged in the 
          practice of conditioning occupancy of rental housing on the 
          declawing of cats and/or the devocalizing of dogs.  According to 
          the author:

               Many rental listings in California show a number of 
               properties, with landlords and managers requiring that 
               potential tenants will be considered only with declawed 
               cats.  It has also been reported that devocalizing dogs 
               has also been a condition of rental tenancy.  Declawed 
               cats and devocalized dogs can often have unintended 
               consequences for property managers, physical 
               complications for animals and emotional and financial 
               consequences for pet owners.   These are permanent 
               procedures and such procedures run counter to the 
               temporary nature of rental occupancy.  

          In addition, the Humane Society Veterinary Medical Association 
          (HSVMA), a co-sponsor of this bill, contends that this bill is 
          needed to prevent the possibility of unnecessary medical 
          procedures for some animals.  HSVMA states:

               SB 1229 will protect tenants from being forced to choose 
               between securing housing for their families and 
               subjecting their pets to unnecessary, costly and 








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               life-altering medical procedures. . . . This is a 
               common-sense measure that will ensure that important 
               medical decisions about companion animals are not made in 
               the context of rental agreements but rather in 
               consultation with veterinary medical professionals and 
               focused on the animals' health and well-being.

           The bill does not apply unless an animal is allowed on the 
          premises.   This bill only applies when the landlord or owner 
          already allows an animal to be on the premises, thereafter 
          restricting specified conduct in those cases that could 
          condition occupancy on whether an animal is declawed or 
          devocalized.  In other words, this bill does not apply to any 
          situation where the party making the property available for 
          occupancy specifically forbids an animal on the premises.  This 
          bill does not infringe upon any landlord's ability to implement 
          a "no-pets" policy or forbid a tenant or occupant from having an 
          animal on the premises.

           Two prohibitions are modeled after provisions from fair housing 
          law.   First, the bill specifically prohibits "advertising the 
          availability of real property for occupancy in a manner designed 
          to discourage application for occupancy because the applicant's 
          animal has not been devocalized or declawed."  The objective of 
          this prohibition is to address the problem of landlords running 
          ads for their rental properties that state a discriminatory 
          preference for an occupant whose animal is declawed or 
          devocalized.  The author has supplied the Committee with a 
          number of examples of classified ads for rental housing that 
          state a preference for tenants having a declawed cat (e.g."Will 
          consider declawed cat only.")  According to the author, this 
          provision is modeled on, but not identical to, language from the 
          CA Fair Housing Act that makes it unlawful for any person "to 
          publish. . . an advertisement, with respect to the sale or 
          rental of a housing accommodation that indicates any preference, 
          limitation, or discrimination based on race, color, religion, 
          sex, etc? or an intention to make that preference, limitation, 
          or discrimination."  (Gov. Code Section 12955(c).)  

          In addition, this bill specifically prohibits a person from 
          "refusing to allow the occupancy of any real property, refusing 
          to negotiate the occupancy of any real property, or otherwise 
          make unavailable or deny to any other person the occupancy of 
          any real property because of that person's refusal to devocalize 
          or declaw any animal."  According to the author, this provision 








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          is modeled on Section 804(a) of the federal Fair Housing Act 
          which makes it unlawful in federal housing "to refuse to sell or 
          rent after the making of a bona fide offer, or to refuse to 
          negotiate for the sale or rental of, or otherwise make 
          unavailable or deny, a dwelling to any person because of race, 
          color, religion, sex, familial status, or national origin."  (42 
          U.S.C. 3604.)  This bill would prohibit those similar 
          discriminatory practices on the basis of whether a prospective 
          occupant would devocalize or declaw an animal.  This type of 
          prohibition is intended to prohibit discrimination against a 
          person seeking housing, before any occupancy agreement or 
          tenancy is established in the real property, lest landlords or 
          property owners be able to evade the spirit of the law by simply 
          refusing to rent to persons on the same basis by which they 
          would be prohibited from discrimination if there was a lease.

          The bill proscribes conduct by "a person or corporation that 
          occupies, owns, manages, or provides services in connection with 
          any real property."  While this typically may be within an 
          ordinary landlord-tenant relationship, the bill is also intended 
          to apply not just to landlords and tenants, but to occupants, 
          tenants and subtenants, and between roommates or co-occupants of 
          real property.  In other words, any situation where one person 
          essentially leverages the right of occupancy or potential 
          occupancy against another person to have that person devocalize 
          or declaw an animal that is allowed on the premises.  

           Enforcement and civil penalties:   Under this bill, a city or 
          district attorney, other law enforcement prosecutorial entity, 
          or any person harmed by a violation of this bill would be given 
          standing to enforce the bill.  By authorizing law enforcement to 
          bring an action when a tenant or other individual harmed by a 
          violation may be unable to because of cost or other reasons, the 
          author seeks to preserve a strong deterrent effect to potential 
          violators.  Finally, the bill subjects violators to a civil 
          penalty of not more than $1,000 per animal, to be paid to the 
          person or entity that is authorized to bring an action.

           Prior Related Legislation.   This bill is substantially similar 
          to the enrolled version of AB 2743 (Nava, 2010).  In vetoing AB 
          2743, then-Governor Schwarzenegger stated:

               I support the goal of this bill, which would preclude 
               landlords from making inappropriate medical decisions as 
               a condition of occupancy.  However, I cannot sign a 








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               measure that contains findings and declarations by the 
               Legislature that are unsupported by science.  In 
               addition, this measure suggests that declawing should be 
               prohibited for any "non-therapeutic" reason, which would 
               include the legitimate medical needs of a pet owner.  
               Regrettably, this bill goes too far in attempting to deal 
               with inappropriate demands by landlords.

          This bill does not contain the same legislative findings and 
          declarations as AB 2743.  Further, this bill has a narrower 
          scope and does not include a prohibition for non-therapeutic 
          reasons as contained in AB 2743.

          ARGUMENTS IN SUPPORT  :  The bill is supported by a number of 
          animal advocacy organizations, veterinarians, California cities, 
          and tenant advocates, among others.  

           The California Veterinary Medical Association (CVMA) writes in 
          support of the bill, stating that decisions about declawing and 
          devocalization procedures "should be made by the animal-owning 
          client, in consultation with a California licensed veterinarian 
          . . . CVMA does not believe it is appropriate, nor medically 
          sound, for a landlord who is a non-medical professional to 
          condition occupancy on the requirement that an animal undergo 
          either one of these procedures."

          The California Apartment Association (CAA), the largest 
          statewide rental housing trade association in the country, also 
          supports this bill because it enacts what is already the 
          Association's current practice.  CAA explains that its 
          leadership "concluded years ago that it would not include in its 
          industry form and leases any requirements that would require 
          cats to be declawed or dogs debarked.  Instead CAA recommends 
          that property owners rely upon pet deposits to cover any damage 
          to the unit."

          The Western Center on Law and Poverty (WCLP) writes in support 
          of the bill, stating:

               On behalf of our low-income clients, we are pleased to 
               support AB 2743, which would prohibit landlords from 
               requiring that tenants' pets be declawed or debarked.  We 
               are concerned that such requirements, though not common 
               now, may increase in the future.  Low-income families 
               lack the funds to pay for these operations, which can run 








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               into the hundreds of dollars.  We are also concerned that 
               a debarking policy might infringe upon the meaningful 
               exercise of the rights of disabled tenants to keep a 
               service animal, as required by fair housing laws.  A dog, 
               able to bark, likely would be a reasonable accommodation 
               under current laws, but disabled tenants would have to 
               assert these rights against a landlord who may be 
               ignorant of the law.  For many, it isn't worth the time 
               and effort.

           ARGUMENTS IN OPPOSITION  :  The Animal Council opposes this bill, 
          contending that this bill is intended to "surreptitiously 
          delegitimize veterinary procedures unrelated to tenancies that 
          are otherwise lawful veterinary practice in California as 
          determined through the veterinarian-client relationship."  In 
          addition, the Animal Council believes that the bill will have 
          the effect of eliminating the stock of rental housing available 
          to pet owners.  They state:

               Landlords have some legal liabilities in nuisances on 
               their owned premises, so the prospect of legal 
               enforcement arising from de-barking creates a 
               disincentive to offer or negotiate pet tenancies, 
               particularly if tenants will not mitigate barking or 
               dispose of the animal.  We respectfully oppose this 
               disingenuous bill as harmful to both pets and tenants as 
               an initial step to eliminate these options for pet owners 
               to keep their pets anywhere.

           REGISTERED SUPPORT / OPPOSITION  :

           Support 
           
          The Paw Project (co-sponsor)
          Humane Society Veterinary Medical Association (HSVMA) 
          (co-sponsor)
          Actor and Others for Animals
          Alley Cat Allies
          Animal Advocates
          Best Friends Animal Society
          Born Free USA
          California Apartment Association
          California Veterinary Medical Association (CVMA)
          City of Berkeley
          City of Los Angeles








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          City of Santa Monica
          City of West Hollywood
          Contra Costa Humane Society
          Last Chance for Animals
          League of Humane Voters, CA Chapter
          Nolan-Taft Management
          Ohlone Humane Society
          Paw PAC
          Pet Care Foundation
          Red Rover
          Social Compassion in Legislation
          Western Center on Law and Poverty
           
            Opposition 
           
          The Animal Council


           Analysis Prepared by  :    Anthony Lew / JUD. / (916) 319-2334