(June 7, 2007) -- The morning after the late night "yes" votes by LB area lawmakers Assemblymembers Betty Karnette (D., LB) and Laura Richardson (D., Carson-LB) that permitted passage of a bill requiring spaying/neutering of dogs/cats (AB 1634), there's measurable fallout in LB...which finds itself at ground zero on the issue.
LB Convention and Visitors Bureau CEO Steve Goodling was uncharacteristically downbeat, and Pine Ave. businessman John Morris (Smooth's Sports Grille) was incensed, that the two LB lawmakers who'd abstained on the bill earlier in the day (leaving it with only 37 of 41 votes needed to pass) ultimately provided two of the "yes" votes that passed the bill when it came up for a final tally at about 10:30 last night (June 6).
Meanwhile, the LB coordinator for the statewide coalition of groups supporting the "California Healthy Pets Act" (AB 1634) by Assemblyman Lloyd Levine (D, Van Nuys) said, "We commend Assemblymembers Richardson and Karnette for their votes, and for all the legislators who voted for the bill...They're held in very high regard by our supporters."
The measure, which now heads to the State Senate, would require (with some exceptions) the spaying/neutering of all cats and dogs over four months. The measure is supported by Friends of Long Beach Animals and a statewide coalition including multiple spay-neuter advocacy groups.
Arrayed against the bill is the national HQ of the American Kennel Club (AKC) various breeder constituency groups...and the AKC has previously indicated in an advocacy letter (salient text below) that CA -- and LB -- could lose annual dog show revenue including the internationally televised AKC/Eukanuba Championship at the LB Convention Center if the bill becomes law.
LBCVB CEO Goodling noted that the dog show provides LB with a major event coupled with national live TV coverage on the Discovery Channel and Animal Planet. He said that AKC's NYC headquarters conveyed to him this morning (June 6) that members of the group were very displeased with the Assembly action..and a number favored removing AKC's annual dog show from CA. In an uncharacteristically downbeat tone, Mr. Goodling said, "This will have a major impact on Long Beach." "Will?" we asked, questioning his choice of verb. "Will," Mr. Goodling reiterated.
Downtown businessman Morris said he was stunned that two local lawmakers had switched their "abstain" position to "yes" instead of "doing what is best for the local community."
Both men indicated they believed an AKC meeting is scheduled in the coming days where consequences might be felt.
When LBReport.com sought to confirm this with AKC, our call to an executive was shunted to Assistant Communications VP Daisy Okas who said AKC's regularly scheduled quarterly meeting of its constituent-member groups is coming up in Las Vegas and the legislative developments aren't on its agenda although they could be discussed. Pressed as to whether any action could be taken at that meeting in response to Assembly developments, the spokesperson offered nothing further, declined to make an AKC executive available to LBReport.com...and sent us the following email:
Our constituency is alarmed about this bill and no doubt it will be a topic of conversation at our Delegate meeting on Monday in Las Vegas. There is always a chance that they could elect to hold a straw vote to break our contract and not hold the show, but as I mentioned it is not a scheduled agenda topic.
Of particular concern is the fact that it appears Long Beach Assembly members Karnette and Richardson voted to pass the measure yesterday. According to LB Convention and Visitors Bureau $21.7 million was generated for the local economy by the AKC/Eukanuba National Championship and surrounding dog shows.
We are receiving a lot of feedback from our constituency across the country Ė they are very concerned with this bill and incredulous that the city of Long Beach is not supporting us.
We can not make any definitive statements about pulling the show out of Long Beach at this time. We are considering all options...
On the other side, LB pro-AB 1634 coordinator Crumpton said:
That's what they've been saying for a long time. It's nothing new. It's what we heard with the LB breeding ordinance [details below].
There are two sides two the story. Both sides are very passionate and strong in their beliefs.
AB 1634 is not, [reiterates and stresses] NOT, doing to harm the AKC. It is aimed strictly at irresponsible pet owners. If anything, it's going to help the AKC.
We will never run out of animals. This bill is just going to stem some of the flow of pet overpopulation.
I wish we could all sit down at the table together and respect each other, and work with each other.
Again, this will not harm the AKC or police dogs.
And I love the city of Long Beach and I would never do anything to harm it and I don't like threats being made to this fantastic city we live in.
As reported in April by LBReport.com, 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.