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Animal protection bills await Gov. Schwarzenegger's signature following the close of state legislative session

Nava

As California's legislative session drew to a close last week, one big winner in the fight for animal-protection issues emerged: Assemblyman Pedro Nava (D-Santa Barbara), who introduced three bills that passed California state Assembly and Senate votes and now await Gov. Schwarzenegger's signature.

The first, A.B. 241, is called "The Responsible Breeder Act of 2009" and imposes a limit on the number of unsterilized dogs and cats an individual or business can have for the purposes of breeding for the pet market.  (Don't get hot under the collar, animal breeders -- the "magic number" the bill would impose is 50, far more unaltered animals than any responsible breeder would ever consider having at one time.  Even so, the American Kennel Club opposes the bill, offering a statement that read in part, "AKC believes that the quality of a breeder is not determined by the number of animals he has, but by the care the animals receive.") 

A.B. 241 applies only to adult animals (so puppies and kittens too young to be spayed or neutered don't enter into the total) and the operative phrase in its text is "for sale" -- so shelters, rescue groups and veterinary facilities would be exempted.  Failure to comply, should the bill be enacted into law, would be a misdemeanor, and a window of time would be given for owners of more than 50 unaltered animals to either rehome the excess animals or have them spayed or neutered. 

The second, A.B. 242, addresses the issue of dogfighting by substantially increasing the penalties for spectators caught attending fights.  Current law provides a maximum sentence of 6 months of jail time and a $1,000 fine.  A.B. 242 would double the maximum jail time and increase the maximum fine fivefold, making the maximum penalty, should it be enacted, one year in jail and a $5,000 fine. 

Nava's final animal-welfare bill, A.B. 243, would prevent those convicted of certain animal-abuse crimes from being able to own or care for other animals after their conviction.  (Current law allows judges to impose a mandate preventing an offender from owning animals in the future, but Assemblyman Nava's bill would require that this mandate be imposed for those convicted of certain crimes against animals.)

"We commend lawmakers in California for passing this raft of legislation to protect animals from cruelty and abuse, and especially Assemblyman Nava for his effective leadership," Jennifer Fearing of the Humane Society of the United States said in a statement. "The anti-cruelty laws of a state are a reflection of our basic values and attitudes toward animals, and this collection of bills is a measurable step forward for the state of California."

The three Nava bills -- as well as a bill introduced by Senate Majority Leader Dean Florez which would outlaw the docking of cows' tails; a bill introduced by Torrance-based Assemblyman Ted Lieu that would outlaw roadside and parking-lot sales of animals; and Montebello senator Ron Calderon's bill which would authorize the seizure of property and profits from convicted dogfighters to be used for the purpose of benefiting abused dogs -- next go to Gov. Schwarzenegger's office for signature.

Another animal-related bill, S.B. 250, also known as the "Pet Responsibility Act," failed to win passage.  S.B. 250 would have required that California dogs -- with the exception of service animals, hunting dogs and police dogs -- either be spayed or neutered or face increased licensing fees.  (S.B. 250 would also have required that free-roaming cats be spayed or neutered.)  But Florez, who backed the bill, said his work on its behalf was far from over and announced he planned to reintroduce it early next year. 

In a statement, Florez pointed to the spread of "untruths" as one reason S.B. 250 failed to pass an Assembly vote during the recently-expired legislative session.  "No responsible pet owner has to worry that the 'puppy police' will come knocking at their door," the statement continued, referring to a criticism that came from some who opposed it. "No one is going to force you to get your dog fixed if it gets out of the yard once.  This bill is a tool for local animal control to use in dealing with irresponsible pet owners whose chronic disregard for the law is taking a financial and emotional toll on taxpayers, pet lovers and shelter workers."

RELATED:
California legislature approves bid to ban tail-docking for cows
Pet Responsibility Act clears state Senate hurdle; bill would mandate spay/neuter for California dogs
Bills affecting farm animals make their way through California legislature

-- Lindsay Barnett

Photo: Assemblyman Pedro Nava (right) shakes hands with California State California Assembly Majority Leader Alberto Torrico (D-Newark) after passing a solution to close the state's budget gap July 24.  Credit: Max Whittaker / Getty Images
 
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This is great! It's wonderful to see compassionate people like Assemblyman Navo being such a positive voice for the animals!

What is not reported is that SB 318 will also take the property of those NOT convicted of dog fighting and for the first time EVER in recent history of our country, give the real property (home, business, farm) to private corporations! This is clearly UNCONSTITUTIONAL and despicable. If you thought eminent domain is a nightmare, welcome to "slap a dog fighting magazine on your coffee table" and we take your home and give it to the SPCA!
For property owners, there is only the need for the DA to post a three week notice in ANY local newspaper, then the property can be taken even from landlords, absentee owners, etc. No conviction needed on the property owner! WELCOME TO A LAND GRAB NOT EVEN SEEN IN DRUG SEIZURE LAWS!!!

AB 241 will deccimate boarding kennels, service dog kennels/programs, K-9 training kennels, you name it. It is UNCONSTITUTIONAL! Soon these legislators that have no qualms about breaking their oath to uphold the Constituion will tell us how many shoes we can own, how many acres, how many cows, sheep, horses, birds, and someday soon enough, children! The bill reads: ALL SURPLUS ANIMALS CAN BE KILLED! Just google california assembly bills then key in AB 241 and read for yourself! Protecting animals? Not a chance!

AB 1122 will cause great harm to the efforts of rescuers as it will not permit the transfer,even free, of any animal in parking lots such as the supermarket where people often meet to transfer rescue animals where it is a safe rendevous site with security present. it also prevents the sale or even free transfer of any animal in YOUR WON PARKING LOT. Since when here in America can laws be made to prevent us from doing such a simple act of transferring an animal in our OWN parking lot? Leiu should be ashamed of what he has done. Rescuers and their volunteer friends will become criminals unless they can go door to door to rescue animals. I for one WILL NOT go to homes where I do not know the people to either pick up an animal or deliver one. My rescue work all my life since a child will now end should this bill be signed by the Governor. When the recue community volunteers begin to get cited with this misdeamenor, you will see no more volunteers. But maybe that was their intent. SHAME SHAME SHAME!

We need more compassionate legislators in Ohio like Pedro Nava of CA. God bless you and may your compassionate bills be passed.

You say, "the "magic number" the bill would impose is 50, far more unaltered animals than any responsible breeder would ever consider having at one time."

And who the heck are you to make that judgement call?? It is purely your opinion as to how many animals someone can have before they are "reputable." If someone has state of the art facilities and a full time staff to look after the needs of the animals, who the heck is anyone to say that isn't allowed??! This law is completely unconstitutional, arbitrary and will do NOTHING to increase the level of care of animals! Standards of care, not numbers should be peoples concerns, and should dictate animal welfare. Not this idiotic, completely emotion driven, not based on any animal husbandry facts dribble that CA legislators want to pass off as good for Californians. Can we say HUGE" financial contributions by animal rights groups to the legislators who are pushing these bills so mightily?

Then you say "S.B. 241 applies only to adult animals (so puppies and kittens too young to be spayed or neutered don't enter into the total)..."

Read the law...puppies and kitten only 4 MONTHS OLD (that's 16 weeks old folks!!!) are counted against the totals...so you're statement is flat our disingenuous at best. 16 week old puppies and kittens are not adults! Not even close. And for those people that show dogs or have working dogs, you have no clue at 16 weeks what you have, and this bill takes away any option to evaluate those young animals by forcing you to either sell them or get them fixed. Yep, this will do so much to improve the lives of dog and cats everywhere...nevermind the cost tot he State of trying to enforce this...and then there is the whole issue of this trapping anyone who is considered to be "helping" or "assisting" all the horrible people that 241 is trying to nail. Give me a freaking break...this piece of legislation has no business even making it through to the Governor!!!


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