NEW: Mandatory pet spay, neuter bill advances
By Steve Geissinger, MEDIANEWS SACRAMENTO BUREAU
Article Launched: 04/24/2007 12:30:26 PM PDT
SACRAMENTO -- After a delay to fix what lawmakers called serious flaws, a somewhat less ambitious statewide plan to force household pets to be spayed and neutered easily cleared its first, key legislative hurdle today. The measure by Assemblyman Lloyd Levine, D-Van Nuys, was approved by the Assembly Business and Professions Committee on a 7-2 vote, along party lines.
Levine backed off pushing for a vote on AB1634 two weeks ago at the request of the 10-member committee's chairman, Assemblyman Mike Eng, D-Monterey Park.
Levine vowed to accept amendments fixing mistakes, clarifying confusing provisions and addressing conflicting rules before an end-of-month deadline that would have killed the bill.
Concerns included no provisions for out-of-state visitors with unaltered pets, contradictory language regarding exemption of show dogs, and unclear exemptions for police and guide dogs.
Levine said the bill now "contains 20 common-sense exceptions" for a wide variety of pets, including even those that have won titles for contests ranging from obedience to herding.
The measure would force pet owners to spay or neuter the majority of cats and dogs by the time they're 4 months old.
Owners who fail to comply would be subject to a $500 fine if their pets are caught anywhere, ranging from the veterinarians' office, to a car, to the front yard.
Breeders' associations are among those who have opposed the bill, saying it places an unreasonable burden on them, in particular, as it relates to obtaining costly permits.
But representatives of the state Humane Association and similar groups support the bill, aimed at reducing euthanasia of what's been roughly estimated at a half-million feral and roaming animals annually in California.
The taxpayer cost is estimated at $250 million annually.
Levine said he looked at two programs run by Santa Cruz and Los Angeles in authoring his legislation.
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