BILL ANALYSIS                                                                                                                                                                                                    






                 SENATE JUDICIARY COMMITTEE
                  Adam B. Schiff, Chairman
                  1997-98 Regular Session


AB 1856                                                A
Assembly Member Vincent                                B
As Amended May 19, 1998
Hearing Date:  June 23, 1998                           1
Food and Agriculture Code                              8
DBM:cjt                                                5
                                                       6

                           SUBJECT
                               
     Dog and Cat Overpopulation:  Spaying and Neutering


                         DESCRIPTION  

This bill would require all animal control agencies,  
society for the prevention of cruelty to animals shelters,  
humane shelters, and rescue groups in counties  over  100,000  
(and cities within those counties) to spay or neuter any  
dog or cat that it sells or gives away.  If a dog or cat is  
injured or too sick to be spayed or neutered, it may be  
released to a person who pays a sterilization deposit and  
agrees in writing to have the animal sterilized.  

For counties with populations  under  100,000 (and cities  
within those counties),  the bill would prohibit the agency  
or shelter from releasing a dog or cat that has not been  
spayed or neutered, unless the party to whom the animal is  
released pays a sterilization deposit and agrees in writing  
to have the animal sterilized.  

The bill would also impose new fines and penalties upon  
owners of unspayed or unneutered dogs or cats which are  
impounded by an animal control agency, shelter or society.   
The bill would impose a $35 fine upon a first impoundment,  
and a $50 fine upon a second impoundment.  Upon a third  
impoundment, the bill would require the sterilization of  
the unspayed our unneutered dog or cat before the animal is  
released back to the owner.  

The bill would provide that no city, county, animal control  









agency or shelter is civilly liable to the owner of a dog  
or cat that is spayed or neutered pursuant to the bill.   

(This analysis reflects author's amendments to be offered  
in committee)

                               
                  CHANGES TO EXISTING LAW
  
1.    Existing law  (Food and Agriculture Code Sections 30503  
  and 31751) provides that no public pound, society for the  
  prevention of cruelty to animals shelters, or humane  
  shelter may sell or give away an unspayed or unneutered  
  dog or cat, unless it collects a refundable spay or  
  neuter deposit.  It provides that the deposit shall not  
  be returned unless the owner of the pet provides proof  
  that the dog or cat has been spayed or neutered within 60  
  days or six months, depending on the age of the animal.   
  It provides that the spay or neuter deposit shall not  
  exceed $40 for dogs and $30 for cats.

   This bill  would provide that all animal control agencies,  
  society for the prevention of cruelty to animals  
  shelters, humane shelters, and rescue groups in cities or  
  counties over 100,000 must spay or neuter any dog or cat  
  that it sells or gives away.   If a dog or cat is injured  
  or too sick to be spayed or neutered, it may be released  
  to a person who pays a sterilization deposit of between  
  $40 and $75 and agrees in writing to have the animal  
  sterilized.   Any animal so released would be required to  
  be sterilized within 14 days of the time a licensed  
  veterinarian determines that it is healthy enough to be  
  spayed or neutered.   

  For animal control agencies and animal shelters in  
  counties with populations under 100,000, and cities  
  within those counties, the bill would prohibit the  
  release of a dog or cat that has not been spayed or  
  neutered, unless the party to whom the animal is released  
  pays a sterilization deposit of between $40 and $75 and  
  agrees in writing to have the animal sterilized.   Any  
  animal so released would be required to be sterilized  
  within 30 days.  The bill would provide for civil  
  penalties of $50 and $100 for  submitting false  
  information relating to sterilization or writing a check  
  for insufficient funds for a spay or neuter deposit, and  









  would authorize any animal control officer, humane  
  officer, police officer, or peace officer to write  
  citations for those penalties.   

2.    Existing law  authorizes local animal control agencies  
  to impound free roaming animals under specified  
  circumstances.  

   This bill  would provide that the owner of an unspayed or  
  neutered dog or cat that has been impounded must pay a  
  $35 fine upon a first impoundment and a $50 fine upon a  
  second impoundment.  Upon a third impoundment, the bill  
  would require the sterilization of the unsterilized dog  
  or cat before it is released back to the owner.  It would  
  provide that no city or county, society for the  
  prevention of cruelty to animals, or humane society is  
  subject to any civil action by the owner of a dog or cat  
  that is spayed or neutered in accordance with this  
  provision.
                               


                          COMMENT
  
1.    Stated purpose: to slow dog and cat overpopulation  

  This bill has been introduced as part of an effort to  
  curb dog and cat overpopulation. The author argues that  
  too many dogs and cats are produced in California, and as  
  a consequence a high number must be euthanized. He claims  
  that last year nearly 600,000 dogs and cats were  
  euthanized in California at an average cost to taxpayers  
  of $78.12 per animal. The author argues that by reducing  
  the number of dogs and cats that can reproduce, this bill  
  will reduce the number that must be killed and reduce the  
  burden on taxpayers.

  The author cites three ways in which this bill will lower  
  the dog and cat population.  By requiring that all  
  animals that are released by pounds, shelters and rescue  
  societies in counties with populations over 100,000 are  
  spayed and neutered, it will reduce the number of  
  released dogs and cats in those counties that are capable  
  of reproduction.  By increasing sterilization deposits  
  and fines in counties with populations under 100,000, it  
  will encourage sterilization without imposing excessive  









  burdens on shelters in those counties. Lastly, by  
  sterilizing dogs and cats that are impounded three or  
  more times, the bill encourages owners not to let their  
  dogs and cats roam free, and allows for the sterilization  
  of dogs and cats that habitually roam.

2.    Support: bill will close spay and neuter loophole in  
  large counties; could help save endangered bird species  

  Numerous humane and animal rights organizations support  
  this bill.  The Society for the Prevention of  Cruelty to  
  Animals, Los Angeles argues that it is very difficult to  
  enforce spay and neuter deposit agreements and that over  
  70 percent of people who adopt animals from shelters do  
  not get their animals sterilized.  Instead, they treat  
  the deposit as an adoption fee and simply absorb the  
  cost.  SPCA, LA also points out that many humane  
  organizations already spay and neuter all animals prior  
  to adoption.  

  Animal Protection Institute claims an additional  
  consequence of dog and cat overpopulation is an increase  
  in the number of free roaming and homeless animals, which  
  heightens the potential for animal abuse.  They claim  
  that "nuisance" animals are often mistreated by people  
  who lack empathy for their plight and suffering. 

  The American Bird Conservancy (ABC) claims that  
  free-roaming cats kill hundreds of millions of birds and  
  other wildlife each year.  They also have a significant  
  negative impact on populations of endangered birds. ABC  
  argues that the bill would be a positive step towards the  
  preservation of those species.  




3.    Justification for asymmetrical laws for counties over  
  and under 100,000  

  This bill would impose two different sets of regulations  
  relating to the spaying and neutering of dogs and cats:  
  one for counties over 100,000 and one for counties under  
  100,000.  The author claims that the separate regulations  
  are necessary because pounds and shelters with  
  populations under 100,000 generally do not have on-site  









  veterinarians who can perform sterilization operations.   
  It can also be difficult to find veterinarians in small  
  counties who are willing to contract to come on site to  
  do sterilization operations.   

4.    Opposition by dog clubs:  bill denies due process  
  rights of dog owners, and is draconian  

  Numerous dog and cat clubs oppose this bill.  They have  
  three primary concerns.  The first is that the provision  
  requiring the sterilization of dogs and cats that are  
  impounded three times are too stringent.  Sharon Coleman  
  of the Animal Council argues that some animals are "true  
  escape artists" and imposed sterilization for those who  
  are picked up three times is inappropriate.  Moreover,  
  she argues, animals are impounded for a myriad of  
  reasons:  in cases where an owner's house has burned down  
  or when a natural disaster has occurred, for instance.  

  The second concern is that the bill would deny the due  
  process rights of owners.  Coleman points out that the  
  bill does not provide for an administrative hearing of  
  any kind, and gives civil immunity to shelters who  
  sterilize "third-strike" animals.  Third, several clubs  
  have argued that statewide spay and neuter mandates are  
  inappropriate, and that citizens would be better served  
  if such matters were left to local jurisdictions.

  The author responds that requiring sterilization after  
  the third time a dog or cat has been impounded provides  
  ample opportunity for owners to mend fences, fix  
  back-doors, or make other changes that will keep a dog or  
  cat from roaming free.  He is concerned that providing  
  for an administrative hearing prior to a third offense  
  sterilization would be overly bureaucratic.  

5.    Governor's Office of Planing and Research opposition  

  The Governor's Office of Planing and Research has taken  
  an opposed unless amended position on this bill.  It  
  argues that spaying and neutering is a policy that should  
  be emphasized as much as possible, but that the  
  provisions in this bill are overly restrictive.  They  
  argue that by forcing animal control agencies to spay and  
  neuter dogs and cats themselves, the bill would be costly  
  and overly burdensome.  They also argue that the decision  









  to sterilize should be left up to pet owners. 
 

6.    Findings and Declarations  

  This bill makes the following findings and declarations: 

  "(a) The Legislature finds and declares that  
  overpopulation of dogs and cats in California is a  
  problem of great public concern. The overpopulation  
  causes public health problems, adversely affects city and  
  county animal control departments, and results in  
  needlessly euthanized dogs and cats. 

  (b) It is the intent of the Legislature, by enacting this  
  act, to reduce the number of unwanted dogs and cats in  
  California. In order to reduce the number of stray dogs  
  and cats on the streets, and the number euthanized in  
  shelters each year, the birthrate must be reduced.  
  Although the point may seem obvious, humans generally  
  give birth to a single offspring, while dogs and cats  
  give birth to litters. Additionally, dogs and cats reach  
  sexual maturity relatively young and their gestation  
  periods are comparatively short. The single most  
  effective prevention of overpopulation among canine and  
  feline populations is spaying and neutering."


Support:  Animal Protection Institute; T Minus 30 Films;  
Orange County                                           
Coalition for Pet Population Control; Physicians for Social  
     Responsibility, LA; SPCALA; A-PAL; County of  
Calaveras; State Humane Association of California;  
Association of Veterinarians for                  Animal  
Rights; Bob Barker Productions; Coalition to Protect    
Animals in Entertainment; In Defense of Animals; Feral Cat  
Coalition; United Activists for Animal Rights; Peninsula  
Pet Rescue                                        and  
Placement League; American Bird Conservancy; Asians for  
Humans, Animals and Nature; International Aid for Korean  
Animals; Benevolent Animal Rescue Committee; Peninsula Pet  
Rescue and Placement League; Spay and Neuter Action  
Project; Education and Action for Animals; Pet Adoption  
Fund; The                                               
Humane Society of San Bernardino Valley; Lake Elsinore  
Animal Friends; Animal Legislative Action Network; Orange  









County People for Animals; Animal Emancipation, Inc.;  
Actors and Others for Animals; numerous individuals

Opposition:    The American Kennel Club; American  
Staffordshire Terrier Club;                             
Irish Setter Club of San Diego; Samoyed Club of America;  
Associated Obedience Clubs of Northern California; Golden  
Gate Labrador Retriever Club, Inc.; Irish Setter Club of  
Southern California; Pet Lovers Protective League; South  
Bay Collie Fanciers, Inc.; California Federation of Dog  
Clubs; Afghan Hound Club of                             
California; Antelope Valley Kennel Club; Aztec Doberman  
Pinscher Club of San Diego; Bull Terrier Club of  
California; Cabrillo Club of California; California Canine  
Hikers; Channel City Kennel Club;                       
Cocker Spaniel Club of San Diego; Diablo Valley German  
Shepherd Dog Club; Western Hound Association of Southern  
California; Golden Retriever Club of Greater Los Angeles;  
Golden Gate Akita   Club; Golden State Chow Chow Club;  
Golden State Rottweiler                                 
Club; Great Pyrnees Association of Southern California;  
Kennel Club of Riverside; Kennel Club of Palm Springs; Kern  
Valley Kennel Club; Lake Matthews Kennel Club; Mensona  
Kennel Club; Orange Coast Rhodesian Ridgeback Club; Dalane  
Golden                                                  
Retrievers; Samoyed Club of Los Angeles; San Angeles Saluki  
Club;     San Joaquin Kennel Club; Santa Maria Kennel Club;  
Santa Clara                                       Valley  
Kennel Club; Shoreline Dog Fanciers Association; Southern  
California Beagle Club; Southland Weimaraner Club; St.  
Bernard        Club of San Diego; St. Bernard Club of  
Southern California;                                    
Western Fox Terrier Breeders Association; Ventura County  
Dog  Fanciers; Society Collies; Keeshound Club of Southern  
California;                                       National  
Animal Interest Alliance; Collie Club of America, Inc.; San  
     Gabriel Valley Collie Club; Simply Corgis; South West  
Dog Sports          of California; Saga Welsh Springer  
Spaniels; The Welsh Springer                           Club  
of America; The Art Network; Pricilla Eiden, Inc.; Balua  
Sur            Kennel Club; Kayra Kennel; Killija  
Labradors; Dalmatian Club of                            
Southern California; Golden West Fox Terrier Association;  
Custom Canines Obedience; Tioka Norwegian Elkhounds;  
Bulldog Club of Southern California; BisSchips CB  
Schipperkes; JMC Service; CRIS'S                       K9  









Training; Coyote Hills Kennel Club; American Dog Owners  
Association, Inc.; ASTRO; The Animal Council; Animal House,  
Inc.;          Animal Lovers Unlimited, Inc.; Authentic  
Bengal Cat League; Bahia                               Sur  
Kennel Club of Chula Vista; Barbary Coast Bull Terrier  
Club;Bear County Cattery; Bijou Bleu Cattery; Borzoi Club  
of California;                                    The Cat  
Care Clinic; The Cat Fanciers Association, Inc.; Del Sur  
Kennel Club; Embergain Golden Retrievers; Feather River Dog  
     Training Club; Fresh Start Victorian Cat Shelter;  
Golden Empire  Brittany Club; Great Companions Dog  
Training; High Desert Cat                               
Club; Human/ Animal Bond in Society; International Bengal  
Cat  Club; Just Persians Cat Club; Malibu Cat Club; Mother  
Lode Bulldog Club; Nakota Siberians; National Pet Alliance;  
Northern California Alaskan Malamute Association; Pet  
Pantry; Pups are Us Pet Store; Rowe's La Mesa Pet Hotel;  
Sacramento Council of Dog                               
Clubs; Saluki Club of Greater San Francisco; San Diego Cat  
Fanciers; San Francisco Dog Training Club; Sandy Oak    
Chesapeakes; Santa Clara Cat Fanciers Association; Sierra  
Foothills                                         Dalmatian  
Club; Tahoe Bengals; Two Cities Kennel Club; Western    
Abyssinian Cat Club; West Shore Shorthair Cat Club




                           HISTORY
  
Source: Author

Related Pending Legislation: None Known

Prior Legislation: None Known

Prior Vote: Assembly Committee on Consumer Protection: 9-2;  
Assembly Committee on Appropriations: 11-8; Assembly Floor:  
43-31

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