Owning the dog or your choice in California

Thursday, April 5, 2007 at 9:59 pm 1 comment

The California Legislature, specifically the Assembly, is poised to snatch from California citizens the right to own the dog of their choice. The measure is AB1634 which is to be heard by the Business and Professions Committee on May 10, in Sacramento. If the bill gets out of this committee, it will have passed another hurdle toward complete passage, and the loss of all California citizens to own the dog of their choice.

This bill, AB1634, would mandate the spaying /neutering of all dogs over the age of 4 months-that’s it. Period.

To appease certain groups, such as the folks who occasionally breed a litter of hopeful show dogs and who compete in dog shows, and who belong to dog clubs, the bill makes a provision for licensing intact dogs – for a fee decided by their local community. There is also a litter breeding fee described. The intact license fee would only apply to dogs registered to an “approved registry” (also decided at a local level) and who had competed in at least one competition sanctioned by that registry in the past year. There is no provision made for the progeny of that dog to be licensed as intact. So the competition stops with that dog. Apparently all the subsequent offspring must be spayed or neutered, leaving the owner with nothing to compete in future shows.

Dog shows are important. Independent judges give their opinions on the quality of each dog by giving them scoring placements in shows. The winners are considered to be breeding material by the embodiment of the official standard for their breed. The losers are not so considered, and are rarely bred by the owners. This is what keep Labradors looking and acting like Labradors and is so for each and every breed.

Dog shows are important for other reasons, one being economical. A dog show with around 1,000 entries brings about $750,000 dollars daily to the community in which it is held. Some dog shows have about 5,000 entries, which may bring in close to $4 million a day. The communities whioch host these shows work very hard to keep the shows in place for the benefit of the community. An example of this is the community of Brawley, CA. which lost the Imperial Valley Kennel Club show a few years ago due to an inadequate show site. Several of the community service clubs which catered breakfast and other services at the show lost most of their annual budgets. And the surrounding communities of El Centro and Holtville lost heavily on the motel occupancy as well as the motels in Brawley.

Altogetherthe economy of dog shows goes quite far. A retired veterinarian from the University of Michigan is deeply researching the annual expenditure regarding dog shows in that state. When I talked with him in early March, he had practically concluded verified figures of close to $4 billion . California has more dog shows than Michigan,more miles to travel to them and more people to go to them. I can easliy imagine that a greater amount than $4 Billion is spent on this practical sport in California.

Now, how will this bill affect the casual dog owner? First, the competitive dog owner only breeds about 8 to 10% of the pups born in the state, if national statistics hold true. The pet stores and the breeding farms that service them may provide 12-14% of the puppies bought in the state. The rest are provided by amateurs commonly called  “back-yard breeders” by the other breeders. These folks may produce one or more litters in a lifetime. These litters are produced for a variety of reasons-from acquainting children with mammalian reproduction and birth, to adding a few dollars to the family income. Usually, quality of pet does not enter into the process. But this class of breeder does create about 74-80% of all puppies sold in the country and probably in California, too.

The problem with this law and the “back-yard breeder” is enforcement. How does one get such a law enforced without; 1. spying on folks, 2. neighbor turning in neighbor, 3. hiring a gang of enforcers to trample neighborhoods seeking intact dogs, 4. brandishing government power, 5. making criminals out of the people who A. own a 7 year old intact female who has never had pups but would cost around $600.00 to spay now, B. own a 12 year old male who has never jumped a fence and bred any other dog but would cost $200.00 to neuter now, C. the owner of a young show dog who is too young to enter in any proper event due to health risks and rules, but is now 4 months old. The examples could go on and on. This is a bad law. It is too vague, it is too controlling, it is too demanding , and it is too unconstitutional.

Some facts about why this law has been proposed: 1. About the late sixties and early seventies there was a huge increase in the popularity of owning purebred dogs. Many people actively bred all the market would buy. 2. Many people acquired these dogs without due consideration for the consequences to themselves and the dog. 3. this was a time of radical changes in our society, with the end of the vietnam conflict and the economic movement of people around the country. 3. These facts and the availability of dogs generally led to the devaluation of the pets, which caused an oversupply of animals in local shelters nationwide. That was then, but the workers at the shelters have never forgotten it. It was a bad time for them, and everybody else, too.

During this time a couple of organizations made great headway. These are PETA (People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals) and HSUS (Humane Society of the United States). These are animal rights organizations, a opposed to the animal welfare organizations caring for the animals and trying to place them in caring homes. Lately these animal rights organizations have become very political, with HSUS spending considerably more during the last national election that the NRA (NAtional Rifle Association).  PETA and HSUS are charitable organizations, meaning that you can deduct contributions to the from your taxes-and they do not pay taxes on the money you donate –  just like a church that you give money. For more on these organizations  you can access the opposing website www.activistcash.com  and read a really goo book account The Hijacking of the Humane movement available through www.amazon.com  (The book is out of print, but they probably have used copies)

Since that awful period of time when the shelters were bursting at the seams and the workers spent most of their time killing healthy animals to make room for more the American response has come into full bloom. Many dog clubs (for those purebred dog folks who show dogs) started their own rescue organization-primarily for dogs of their chosen breed, but many of those members have now personally adopted mixed breed dogs which share their homes with the purebreds. Many independent rescue organizations have also come into being. And communities have advertized the plight of dogs everywhere. This has resulted in actual shortages of dogs in some shelters. WHAT! shouldn’t shelters be generally devoid of poor canine inmates looking for caring homes? Ideally, yes. But let us not forget that the shelters are in the adopt-a-dog business just as much as a pet shop and even more so than the occasional purebred breeder that just wants to have the best winner in the dog show. Now what?

Some American shelters have even resorted to importing dogs from shelters with “surpluses”. Some have even imported dogs from American Samoa, Guam, Taiwan China, Hawaiin Islands (and this is an American state) and resorted to smuggling dogs in from Mexico. All this is documented and traceable.

In the meantime, those shelter people are still screaming about shelter overpopulation and the need to control breeding. At a recent meeting on the subject in Phoenix , Arizona, the figure of 50,000 animals annually going through the shelters at both Animal Care and Control (government) and Arizona Humane (Private, charitable, actual humane association as opposed to PETA and HSUS). Then a civilian participant questioned a previous meeting just 8 years prior where the figures given were 98,000. This illustrated almost 50% reduction of numbers in merely 8 years. ACC and Arizona Humane had little to say following that, but the civilian invitees said,”Looks like we are doing something right, so why not keep doing it?” ACC said,”No, we need more laws.”

This Arizona example actually typifies a national trend. Shelter populations have been falling steadily at an annual rate of 5% to 11%, depending on circumstances in each community. It is not the need to reduce shelter populations that drives laws like the proposed AB1634. Shelter populations are reducing and it is the volunteer work of the rescue organizations that is doing it, not laws. In addition, the population has educated itself regarding pet ownership, and fewer people are acquiring pets in a turbulent employment situation, or in cases where thay may not be able to keep it for it’s entire natural life.

However, remember I said that those two organizations had grown a lot? Well, between them they took in over $350 million of your dollars in tax free mode last year. And one of them outspent the NRA, remember? It is these organizations that really push these laws of dominance over households in California and elsewhere. Sixty-seven percent of American households have pets. Most have dog and cat pets. It is these household that are the targets of these organizations. 

How will your household feel, if this law is passed? How will you be affected? You have a couple of sources of information. Those will lead you to others. But study quickly, as this thing is rolling right along. Will you let it roll over you? 

Entry filed under: Dog Law.

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1 Comment Add your own

  • 1. d  |  Friday, April 6, 2007 at 3:19 pm

    With all respect, California is becoming one scary state.
    Dog owners around the country should not for one moment think this could not happen to them next.
    I don’t see it as a “California only” problem; it’s a dog lover’s & a property rights issue as well.
    Great blog.


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