CA forges ahead with new animal laws

Not only humans were affected by the spate of new bills signed into law by Gov. Jerry Brown. From pigs to whales, lawmakers succeeded in changing the way animals are treated in California.

Strengthening antibiotics

Cows dairy farmJust seven lawmakers voted against a bill that cracked down on the excessive administration of antibiotics to farm animals, according to Bloomberg Business. “Overuse of antibiotics, both in medicine and in animal agriculture, contributes to the rise of drug-resistant superbugs that kill 23,000 Americans each year and sicken 2 million. Brown vetoed a weaker bill last year,” noted the website.

The overwhelming consensus against the practice provided a sort of mirror image of the recent determination to remove the personal belief exemption from California’s rules guiding the mandatory vaccination of children. There, similar concerns about a growing threat of public disease arose from the rise of a movement among parents to delay or skip vaccines. In animal agriculture, however, the controversy around vaccinating humans was out of the picture, smoothing the way for the bill’s passage and signature into law.

Following the state’s trend of passing regulations more stringent than those handed down from Washington, lawmakers raised a strict standard for treating herd animals with antibiotics. “Currently, many antibiotics are available without a prescription from a veterinarian. The new law, which takes effect on Jan. 1, 2018, requires a prescription based on a veterinarian’s judgment that the antibiotics are medically necessary,” the Los Angeles Times reported. “The new state law is tougher than federal law in prohibiting a regular pattern of use of antibiotics as a preventative measure to farm animal herds. There must be an elevated risk to justify using it with animals that are not sick.”

Failure to comply would trigger escalating fines. “Firms are subject to civil money penalties of up to $250 for each day a violation occurs,” as Politico noted. “Subsequent violations could bring an administrative fine of $500 for each day.”

Regulating whales

Meanwhile, California regulators have moved to make it more difficult to keep whales captive. “SeaWorld has suffered another hit to its killer whale show after the California Coastal Commission banned it from breeding orcas in captivity as a condition of its approval of the struggling San Diego theme park’s $100 million expansion,” reported Vice News. “The new conditions, which were attached to an approval of the park’s Blue World expansion, set to open in 2018, prohibits all whale breeding, including the use of artificial insemination. It also bans the sale, trade, or transfer of captive orcas.”

SeaWorldSeaWorld came under sustained attack in the wake of a critical documentary that mobilized opposition to its famous orca shows and programs, which require the whales to be kept in conditions considerably different from those they adopt in the wild.

The decision came with a possible loophole. SeaWorld had wanted to expand its tanks, a project that would facilitate more breeding. As a condition of approval, however, the Commission blocked that possibility — giving SeaWorld an opportunity to back out, but one that could come at a price. As Humane Society lobbyist Jennifer Fearing told the Associated Press, “it risks giving the public the perception that it never intended to build bigger tanks to benefit the park’s 11 killer whales and would rather simply breed more in captivity.”

Popular poultry

Lawmakers did not intervene this year in at least one increasingly relevant aspect of animal law: the cultivation of so-called “backyard” chickens. “Chicken-mania is sweeping the Bay Area,” the Contra Costa Times reported, “with burgs big and small scrambling to regulate the popular trend of backyard birds and their coops — and keep the peace between neighbors who might not enjoy all the clucking going on next door.” Legislators in Sacramento could step in if municipalities can’t keep up. Local rules vary widely and do not always command respect. Hayward’s prohibition of poultry “in most of the city’s neighborhoods,” the Times observed, “is largely ignored by underground chicken lovers.”


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  1. Just Another Disgruntled Citizen
    Just Another Disgruntled Citizen 14 October, 2015, 10:18

    Not having read the legislation in question, my comments are made purely on principle and philosophy.

    First, I am glad to know Gov. Brown signed a bill to ban the use of antibiotics on healthy domestic farm animals. Glad for the animals, glad for the industry, glad for me. This practice was never good science, medicine, animal husbandry, or the industry. Much good will come from abandoning it, especially over the long haul. Economic liberty is not a license to mistreat animals or people.

    Second, I’m glad for the whales. The only case I can think of for keeping a whale in captivity is if it a rescue or there is some other reason it can’t manage on its own. Marine parks do not need a whale to stay in business. If you want to see a whale, go on a whale-sighting excursion. Liberty is not a right to do whatever you want without regard for the consequences.

    Third, the keeping of chickens in urban residential neighborhoods is something that I think is neat. Except that there is a serious downside that people need to take into consideration–many people are allergic to feathers and bird-droppings. Some species are more trouble than others because their droppings can carry deadly viruses. I love the clucking of a barnyard hen. But, the clucking of more than two or three would be too much! My thoughts are that some neighborhoods (where yards are large enough not to be trouble to the neighbors) could be designated as “chicken-friendly” and others (especially smaller lots) “off-limits to chickens”. Property rights (which devolve to tenants) do not confer on anyone to cause harm to their neighbors.

    All this being said, I am aware that many people would say my opinions argue for a plant-based animal-free diet. But, I am not making that argument, as humans are basically carnivorous omnivores or omnivorous carnivores. Very few people are able to thrive on a vegetarian diet. I know people who become weak and sickly, develop symptoms of degenerative disease, and have serious memory problems if they are deprived of beef, lamb and pork. No one (except parents to their own children) has the right to dictate what someone else eats.

    “I would define Liberty to be a power to do as we would be done by.”–John Adams, 1818

    Reply this comment
  2. Spurwing Plover
    Spurwing Plover 14 October, 2015, 12:35

    Of all the nations political animals the demacratic donkey is the stupidists of them all

    Reply this comment
  3. Just Another Disgruntled Citizen
    Just Another Disgruntled Citizen 14 October, 2015, 13:44

    Are you saying a Conservative or Libertarian or Republican cannot have a preference for unadulterated foods, humane treatment of domestic animals, freedom of the seas for whales and other ocean-life, less gentrification of urban centers, more local control of issues like keeping chickens in city neighborhoods, and so forth?

    I think it is interesting that when I talk about Economic Liberty to liberals, Democrats, environmentalist-fanatics, and so forth, they think I’m defending crony-capitalism, industrial pollution, and cruelty to animals because they think Free Trade is a synonym for Capitalism and greed, which it isn’t.

    And when I talk about Conservation Policy to conservatives, Republicans and Libertarians, they think I’m defending taking away everybody’s rights and forcing them to do things that are not in their best interest because they think Liberty is a synonym for the freedom to do whatever you wish without regard for the rights of others, which it isn’t.

    If true Liberty isn’t Reciprocity, then I’m in the wrong universe.

    Reply this comment
  4. desmond
    desmond 14 October, 2015, 16:44

    How does the legislature view consensual sex between humans and animals?
    This could be the next barrier that needs to be removed.
    Hey, if a Great Dane can do the Fido slammie with a poodle, why can t Jack the database administrator do it is with Stanislaus the Pomeranian? This could be something Lois Welk would sink her teeth into. Too bad “backdoor” Johnnie Perez termed out.

    Reply this comment
  5. Spurwing Plover
    Spurwing Plover 15 October, 2015, 07:25

    Next month is Thanksgiving that means turkeys like Moonbeam Brown should stay indoors all day long

    Reply this comment
  6. savetheanimals
    savetheanimals 15 October, 2015, 16:11

    Couldn’t be happier with the CCC’s decision to ban the orca breeding at $ea Jail…

    Reply this comment

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