Bills about fur labeling, declawing, pet insurance and animal neglect are approved by California lawmakers
Several bills affecting animals have made their way through the California Legislature in recent months and are poised to become law if they are signed by Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger. Here's a roundup of recent legislative efforts to help animals in California.
Pet insurance: AB 2411 would require greater disclosure to policyholders by pet insurance providers. The bill, introduced by Assemblyman Dave Jones (D-Sacramento), was approved by the state Assembly earlier this year. The state Senate amended it before passing it, requiring a second vote from the Assembly, where it passed again this week.
AB 2411 would require pet insurance providers to disclose to consumers any coverage limits; exclusions of coverage based on a pet's preexisting condition; or reduction of coverage or premium increase based on prior claims. It would apply only to insurance policies issued on or after July 1, 2011. (Read the full text of the bill in PDF format.)
Declawing and devocalization: AB 2743, introduced by Assemblyman Pedro Nava (D-Santa Barbara), would prohibit landlords in California from requiring pet owners to declaw or devocalize their pets as a condition of tenancy. The bill would also prevent landlords from giving preferential treatment to tenants with declawed or "debarked" pets or phrasing advertising for their rental properties in a way that would discourage tenants with pets that aren't declawed or devocalized from applying for tenancy.
Animal neglect: AB 2012 would add six months to the maximum jail time a judge can impose on a person convicted of animal neglect, bringing the maximum penalty to one year in jail and $20,000 in fines. It is co-sponsored by a coalition of groups including the California District Attorneys Assn., the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, the Humane Society of the United States and the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals-Los Angeles.
"Although animal neglect causes prolonged agony and pain to the animals involved, the penalty is not in proportion to the sentence for a single act of animal cruelty," said Assemblyman Ted Lieu (D-Torrance), who introduced the bill. "AB 2012 will help law enforcement and the courts by clearing up any confusion with sentencing offenders of these horrible crimes against animals."
The bill passed an initial Assembly vote in May. It was amended by the state Senate, and the Assembly voted again to approve it with the Senate's changes Aug. 17. (Read the full text of the bill.)
Fur labeling: AB 1656, introduced by Assembly members Fiona Ma (D-San Francisco) and Lieu, would require all clothing sold in California that contains fur to carry a label stating as much. An existing federal law requires manufacturers to note the type of animal, country of origin and other information about fur garments, but only if more than $150 worth of fur is used. If AB 1656 becomes law, California would become the sixth U.S. state to enact such a fur-labeling law, joining New York, Massachusetts, Delaware, New Jersey and Wisconsin.
"My colleagues agree that AB 1656 is about a consumer's right to know," Ma said after the bill was approved by the Assembly's Judiciary Committee in March. "People have a right to make informed purchasing decisions. We know when an article of clothing contains cotton, wool or nylon. It only makes sense that we know when clothes are made with rabbit or dog."
AB 1656 was passed by the state Assembly in April and the state Senate this month. (Read the full text of the bill.)
AB 2411, AB 2743, AB 2012 and AB 1656 now await Schwarzenegger's signature. Last month the governor signed into law a bill authored by Assemblyman Jared Huffman (D-San Rafael) that will require all whole eggs sold in California, including those shipped in from other states, to comply with the space requirements for egg-laying hens set out by 2008's voter-approved Proposition 2. That law goes into effect in 2015.
Photo: Dhondi / Your Scene