Forced Pet Sterilization Bill Fails

Katy Grimes: After being inactive for almost a year, the Assembly voted down a bill today that would have forced pet owners to sterilize dogs and cats. After being resurrected by the author, SB 250, by Sen. Dean Florez, D-Shafter, was sold as an alternative to euthanizing hundreds of thousands of stray dogs and cats every year by shelters and pounds.

But many pet groups fought the bill, with concerns that spanned pet ownership rights, burdens for enforcement on local governments, and higher costs to the state’s animal shelters.

Animal pounds and shelters are already overloaded with animals. Because of the worsening economy and overload of foreclosed homes, people who are no longer able to afford the high costs associated with caring for pets, turn them over to animal shelters, or set pets free in parks — where they are inevitably picked up by animal control officers.

Humane societies and animal shelters used to run very low-cost spay and neuter programs. The inexpensive sterilization clinics were so successful in reducing the number of stray cats and dogs, that many shelters up to the early 1990’s, actually ran out of adoptable pets.

But most animal shelters complained that the cost of adoption did not cover the costs to medically treat animals or the spaying and neutering. Fees went up, dramatically, to the point of discouraging pet adoptions.

The Sacramento SPCA charges $100 to adopt a dog, and $85 to adopt a cat. Spay and neuter fees are based on animal size: Little dogs under 30 pounds cost $50 for spaying (female), and $40 for neutering (males). Dogs 75 pounds or more cost $100 up to $120 for spaying and neutering. It’s expensive to adopt, and then sterilize the animal, which is required at the time of adoption.

To save money, many people purchase pets from pet stores or backyard breeders, which do not require sterilization. Pet owners should spay and neuter family pets, and many already do. But Florez’s bill approaches the stray pet problem from the wrong direction, as he seeks to dictate terms, turning off many people to pet ownership and animal rescuing.

The subsidy made sense because it actually worked in helping to keep the numbers of stray animals down.  Without a subsidy for shelters in this down economy, pet owners should be incentivized to spay and neuter, and not penalized for being a pet owner.

And even more important, the legislature has bigger fish to fry right now, than resurrecting stale, smelly old bills that have nothing to do with a budget for the state.

Florez’s bill was first introduced in February 2009, taking more than 18 months, and a great deal of time and cost, to work through the legislature. SB 250 is an excellent example of more wasteful government spending on a stupid bill that only distracted from the real work that needs to be done under the dome.

Posted Aug. 26, 2010

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  1. Geraldine Clarke
    Geraldine Clarke 27 August, 2010, 10:56

    The opposition to SB250 is not just about the intrusion into pet-owners’ lives and extra costs to the State, it is also about the fact that SB250 was based on the lie that it would stop the killing in shelters. Everywhere an MSN (mandatory spay/neuter) law has been passed, the number of animals that end up (and are killed) in shelters goes up. Judie Mancuso and many of the other people behind SB250 (and AB1634 before it) got a similar law passed in Los Angeles. Since that law went into effect, the number of animals abandoned to shelters there has risen significantly (even adjusting for the effects of the recession which has increased the number of people who have been forced to give up their animals. Areas without MSN have not had the steep rise that L.A. has had.)

    The reason that L.A.’s numbers have gone up is that the kind of people who dump their pets dump them even faster when faced with high license fees, fines and the possibility of cops showing up on their doorstep. It’s the worst side of human nature, of course, but the mechanisms that SB250 tried to implement ignored that basic fact of human nature and would have punished responsible owners while encouraging the irresponsible ones to throw away even more animals.

    The bright side is that many places have discovered what it takes to end the killing in shelters AND in ways that will pay for themselves in the long run. Bill Bruce in Calgary, Nathan Winograd and his No Kill movement, the entire state of New Hampshire, etc., etc. have devised ways to empty out their animal shelters with new homes for formerly doomed animals. As the article above notes, low cost clinics to neuter animals is a key component. But enlightened community outreach is the MOST important thing; it increases licensing which brings in the money to finance the clinics and the ways to find those great new homes for animals.

    The rate of licensing in CA is outrageously low in contrast to the areas where No Kill movements have taken hold. In many areas in CA, it costs $150 or more to get a year’s license for an intact animal and this license comes with a lot of hostility from the Animal Control which issues the license and sometimes they also insist that getting that license will allow them to come onto the licensee’s property at any time without a warrant (totally unconstitutional but who has the million or so needed to fight that through the courts….) What rational person would license under those conditions?!

    We CAN devise a just law which will stop the killing and not add costs to the State. Unfortunately the “animal rights” activists who are behind these bills are so consumed with hate that they do not understand what will really achieve their aims. (Personal note here: I have been shoved up against a wall and spat upon in the halls of our Capitol and I’ve also had people with hate in their eyes try to follow me home from a hearing because they called me a “puppy mill” – Yeah, breeding 7 litters of wonderful dogs in 40 years to preserve an 8,000 year old breed, all of whom lived good long lives, definitely makes me a “puppy mill”. end of personal rant. sorry.)

    In the four years that animal lovers have organized themselves to fight AB1634 and SB250 with no “big bucks” contributors to help them, an enormous coalition has been formed that can be used to change the ways we deal with unwanted animals to stop the killing in shelters. But, and it is an enormously huge “BUT”, we need to be able to work with the well-funded people behind SB250 toward our common goals.

    SB250 is not dead yet. Let’s kill it and find a way to work together to save all those pound puppies!

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  2. Susan
    Susan 28 August, 2010, 01:25

    That is the stupidest, lying comment I’ve ever read. You’re a lobbyist, Geraldine, aren’t you?
    LA has always had high dumps. The areas where they dump them are not worried about license fees or fines!!! Community outreach…oh yeah, that’ll get them to license pets, won’t it.
    How many dogs did you breed, then? And why were you at hearings about pets? What did you you DO?
    Also, “animal lovers”? Demeaning. What do you call people who are against pedophilia, children lovers? And since you aren’t one, guess that makes you an animal hater.

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  3. Rose
    Rose 31 August, 2010, 18:52

    The reason the conservatives vote against this bill is because they apparently think it’s okay to make money off of anything regardless if it results in animal cruelty or not. LIving in Orange County, animal welfare people have had to deal with issue for decades, and the most blantant example is our ONE county shelter which is 69 years old. That says it all!!!!

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