(June 6, 2007) -- By the slimmest of margins -- and with LB area lawmakers Assemblymembers Betty Karnette (D., LB) and Laura Richardson (D., Carson-LB) providing key "yes" votes -- the Assembly approved a bill by Assemblyman Lloyd Levine (D., SFV) to require (with few exceptions) the spaying/neutering of all cats and dogs over four months.
With the bare minimum 41 votes required, the "California Healthy Pets Act" (AB 1634) cleared the Assembly on Wednesday night (June 6) and advances to the State Senate.
Earlier today, the outcome was in doubt when the bill came up short with 37 votes as Assemblymembers Karnette and Richardson initially abstrained.
Assemblyman Levine placed a "call" on the bill, permitting a second tally in which additional "yes" votes could be added...and when the bill was called 10:25 p.m., Assemblymembers Richardson and Karnette voted "yes."
The proposed legislation has put LB in the forefront (again). Friends of LB Animals (FoLBA) and a statewide coalition of animal advocacy groups strongly back the bill...while the American Kennel Club (breeder advocates) has indicated that CA -- and LB -- could lose dog show revenue if the bill becomes law.
Similar arguments pitted local animal advocates against downtown convention revenue during the O'Neill administration.
In early 2006, the LB City Council reversed years of prior city policy that banned dog breeding, adopting an ordinance allowing regulated dog breeding. Documents obtained by LBReport.com at the time showed that AKC wrote then-LB Mayor O'Neill on three occasions between June 2004 and March 2005, urging a reversal of LB's dog breeding ban...and suggesting this might help make LB the permanent home of the group's national shows beyond 2006 and 2007.
In response to the proposed state legislation, AKC's Chairman of the Board, Ronald Menaker, sent a letter from the group's NYC HQ to CA Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger, contending the bill would be "damaging...to responsible dog owners in California and also the revenue that California stands to lose if dog shows are forced out of the state as they would be under the provisions of AB 1634."
The AKC letter to Gov. Schwarzenegger attached a separate letter from AKC Board Chair Menaker to Assemblyman Mike Eng (D., Monterey Park) who chairs the Assembly Business & Professions Committee scheduled to give the bill its first Committee hearing. The letter states in pertinent part:
The American Kennel Club (AKC) is extremely concerned about Assembly Bill 1634, which would require dogs and cats over four months of age be spayed or neutered unless an intact animal permit is obtained by the owner. This legislation would be a death knell for dog shows and indeed purebred dogs in state of California. As Chairman of the Board of the American Kennel Club and on behalf of the 482 AKC-affiliated dog clubs in California and their thousands of members, and the 5,000 clubs nationwide, I urge you to oppose this bill.
In 2006, and previously in 2003, we held our internationally televised AKC/Eukanuba Championship at the Long Beach Convention Center. This site was chosen in part because California has always been considered to be a dog-friendly state. As one of the premier dog events in the world, the 2006 AKC/Eukanuba Championship drew approximately 28,000 visitors to California from all fifty states as well as several foreign countries. The Long Beach Area Convention and Visitorís Bureau estimates the eventís economic impact at approximately 21.7 million dollars. In fact, the bed tax alone generated $90,200 to the City of Long Beach. We would be glad to provide you with a video tape of the 2006 show.
We are scheduled to return to Long Beach in December of 2007 and in 2008 for our next AKC/Eukanuba National Championship. Passage of AB 1634 would make that very difficult. The current draft of the bill does not provide an exemption from the intact animal permit requirements for those exhibitors traveling to California from other states, making it virtually impossible for the vast majority of our exhibitors to attend this event. This would mean a major loss of revenue for the state as well as the loss of such a prestigious event to another state. The American Kennel has discussed designating Long Beach as the permanent home of the AKC/Eukanuba National Championship, but passage of AB 1634 would make that highly unlikely.
In 2006, almost 160,000 competitors participated in 137 all-breed dog shows in California. Three of the ten largest shows in the United States are held in California. Another 130,000 competitors participated in events such as agility, obedience and field trials. Thousands of purebred and mixed bred dogs pass AKC Canine Good Citizenship Certificate tests each year. The AKC conducts ongoing research regarding the economic benefits of our events, and our estimates conclude that these exhibitors contributed approximately $92 million to local California economies. Should AB 1634 be adopted, California would not only have the dubious distinction of being the least dog friendly state in the nation, but could also potentially suffer economic losses in the millions of dollars...
The American Kennel Club works to support sound, enforceable animal control laws that promote responsible pet ownership. We oppose laws, such as AB 1634, which penalize responsible owners and breeders simply for keeping their animals intact and providing the public with healthy, well socialized pets. An appropriate response to shelter population issues is an increased emphasis on promoting responsible pet ownership, rather than imposing potentially outrageous intact animal permit fees for responsible owners and breeders.
I strongly urge you to reject AB 1634 and to work with the American Kennel Club, our California clubs, and responsible owners across the state to educate the public about responsible pet ownership.
For its part, FoLBA sent a letter (text below) from its President Shirley Vaughan to Assemblyman Levine voicing strong support for his bill:
Friends of Long Beach Animals is in complete support of the California Health Pets Act (AB 1634). We actively support humane options for animals, and we have become uncomfortably familiar with the plight of stray and homeless cats and dogs. Feral colonies grow, despite the efforts of catch, neuter and release programs. The shelters are glutted, and no-kill shelters are nearly impractical. Long Beach Animal Control alone deals with thousands of animals being euthanized for lack of a good home. A large part of the City of Long Beach have uncaring and irresponsible pet owners who allow their pets to run at large and breed with more unwanted offspring added to the pet overpopulation program.
Animals in our community deserve a quality of life,. Friends of Long Beach Animals has been in business in the community for 17 years now trying to alleviate the problem of pet overpopulation and certainly appreciates your efforts with presenting this bill. Thank you for joining our fight to end pet overpopulation and the cruelty and loss of life that result from it.
The battleground now moves to the CA State Senate.