An Orange County Columnist speaks

Sunday, May 6, 2007 at 7:45 pm Leave a comment

 Sandiegodog Blog is open to the more cogent arguments regarding AB1634. The remarks below are crossposted from BSL56-UAOA@yahoogroups.com . This list, with pet-law@yahoogroups.com provide a forum of clear and irate thinking regarding the ramifications of AB1634. Sandiegodog Blog is unalterably opposed to this proposed law and wishes everyone, both dog fancier and “civilian” dog owner to be as informed as possible. It is the citizens of California that will bear the brunt of this Draconian, Orwellian scheme to imprison this important aspect of the rather free life we have in this country. Read on, of Citizens, and follow your conscience at the polls next time around!

 Sunday, May 6, 2007
Bad pet owners are the ones to snip
To spay or not to spay, that is the issue in California.

GORDON DILLOW
Register columnist
GLDillow@aol.com
Almost everyone would agree that there are too many unwanted pets in California, and that reducing that number would be a worthy end. But when it comes to the means to achieve that end, people will fight like cats and dogs.

Consider, for example, the bitter battle over California Assembly Bill 1634, also known as the “California Healthy Pets Act,” which is now working its way through the Legislature.

The proposed new law would require that, with a few exceptions, every single dog and cat in the state that’s over 4 months old would have to be spayed or neutered. Dog breeders and owners of show or competition or working dogs could be exempted if they got a local “intact permit” – for an as-yet-unspecified fee – as would people who could get a letter from a veterinarian saying their animal is too old or sick to undergo the procedure. For every other dog and cat it would be snip-snip time, with violators – the owners, that is, not the dog or the cat – subject to a $500 fine.

It’s hard to say how many of the estimated 15 million or so pet dogs and cats in California are already sterilized and how many aren’t. But if enacted, AB1634 would mandate the most massive pet sterilization program in American history.

So is it a good idea? Or a draconian governmental intrusion on the rights of pet owners?

The bill’s author, Assemblyman Lloyd Levine (D-Van Nuys), and its many supporters – which range from the California Animal Control Directors Association to a group called the Canine Crusaders – say the measure is desperately needed. They say that every year some 500,000 unwanted dogs and cats wind up in animal shelters statewide, of which about 300,000 are ultimately killed. And they insist the legislation is primarily aimed at irresponsible pet owners who allow their animals to roam and reproduce indiscriminately.

“We won’t have dog and cat police going door to door lifting up your animal’s leg to check” if it has been spayed or neutered, Levine said in a radio interview last month. Although the law would cover all dogs and cats, supporters say enforcement would be directed at people whose pets come in contact with animal control officers – and even they could avoid the $500 fine if they subsequently got their animal “fixed.”

But the many opponents of the measure, who range from breeders to pure-breed cat and canine clubs to something called SoCal BARF (short for “Biologically Appropriate Raw Feeders”), believe the mandatory spay/neuter bill is a Big Brother-ish attempt by government to stick its nose where it doesn’t belong – which is to say, in their pets’ nether parts.

“It’s Orwellian,” says Kay Novotny of La Palma, who has three Borzois – some people describe them as “long-haired greyhounds” – that she raised for shows and competitions. “We all agree there are too many animals in shelters, but this isn’t going to solve the problem. The vast majority of pet owners are responsible people, and they’re the ones who will be punished. The scofflaws will still be scofflaws.”

In fact, Novotny and others say that in addition to putting a financial burden on responsible pet owners, and allowing the government to make health decisions for their pets, the bill might actually exacerbate the problem by prompting irresponsible pet owners to dump their animals rather than get them fixed. And despite what Assemblyman Levine says, they aren’t so sure there wouldn’t be “dog and cat police” checking for compliance – and even if they didn’t, the law could still make lawbreakers out of millions of responsible pet owners who aren’t part of the problem.

Well, both sides have good arguments on the proposed mandatory spay/neuter law – too many to fully go into here. And it’s not my place to tell you what to think on the issue.

Still, personally I have to wonder about a law that casts such a wide net, one that mandates restrictions on the responsible many because of the irresponsible actions of the relative few. It seems like we have too many laws like that as it is.

In any event, if you want to sound off on Assembly Bill 1634, pro or con, contact your California Assembly person. To find out who that is, and how to contact them, check the “state government” listings in the front of your phone book, or go to http://www.legislature.ca.gov and click on “Legislators and Districts.” If you don’t have Internet access, ask someone to do it for you.

In the meantime, I’d like to propose another law, one that would require the forcible spaying or neutering of any human who abuses or abandons a dog or cat.

Yes, I know, some people might say that’s a little harsh. But in addition to improving the gene pool, unlike a lot of laws, current and proposed, at least it would put the punishment on the guilty.

And leave the innocent alone.

714-796-7953 or GLDillow@aol.com

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