It is good to be back here at the Cat Site. I've been tied up with personal issues, and haven't been much able to drop in to look over the Forums.
This issue is important, so I've included a description of a bill that is soon going up for vote in California. Sorry this is so long...but the ordinance passed in Richmond is but the tip of the iceberg it seems, as Richmond is using California as it's role model for action similar to the California legislation. Here is a description of the California SB 236, which would ostensibly be Phase Two of what was recently passed in Virginia:
DESCRIPTION OF THE BILL
SB 236 is authored by State Senator Jack O'Connell (D-18) and sponsored by the Animal Legislative Activist Network. The founder of A.L.A.N., Richard G. McLellan, M.D., is the principal promoter of this legislation. Dr. McLellan has stated that a purpose of the bill is to establish a database on all dogs and cats sold in the state in order to reduce abandonment of animals. He and other proponents claim the bill is a way to make those who sell dogs and cats "responsible" if they become homeless. All owners' would be known by local animal agencies and permit information would be open to public inspection with county clerks maintaining records. Fees imposed on those who sell
dogs/cats are to be used for administration costs, spay/neuter and other programs.
SB 236 would require all local jurisdictions in the state to change their animal ordinances. EACH SALE of a dog or cat, under one year of age, in California would require a separate permit, at a fee to be set locally, and issued by an animal agency. The permit must be obtained prior to engaging in "any advertisement" for the sale - this includes newspapers, flyers, newsletters, magazines, periodicals, Internet, oral offers or even the "display" of a dog or cat. (Cats from other parts of the country even
offered for sale at a California cat show would require a permit.) A "seller" does not include a person or organization that shelters an abandoned animal and charges a fee to recover costs.
Any person who owns a dog or cat must ensure the dog/cat has been micro-chipped and the owner's identification has been entered into a local or national registry. Feral cats are exempted (but not defined). Dogs and cats kept temporarily are exempted.
Dogs license laws would be changed to add a provision requiring the owner to notify animal control whenever a dog is transferred to a new owner and provide information on the new owner.
OPPOSITION AND CONCERNS
1. This bill is part of an ongoing overall effort to regulate all breeding and sales of dogs and cats in the state of California. The permit and microchip provisions would be in the part of the Civil Code covering consumer and warranty laws for pet stores and commercial dog breeders. There is no need for this overly restrictive legislation that would cover EVERY person in the state who sells a dog or cat. It is an extreme invasion of privacy, and enforcement would be costly or impossible. Most Hobby breeders of pedigreed cats/purebred dogs provide home-raised kittens and puppies under optimum conditions. This legislation would discourage conscientious breeders and deprive the public of an excellent source of cats and dogs. It would cause the demand for selectively bred animals to be met by out of state sellers.
2. Some individuals, whose pets may have an accidental litter, will surrender them to shelters rather than pay permit fees for each animal and attempt to find homes through newspaper ads. Why discourage individuals from taking responsibility? Some may even abandon the animals for fear of fees and punishment.
3. Animal agencies and shelters in California are working hard to comply with the requirements imposed by the Shelter Act of 1998. The turmoil, administrative costs and data keeping that would be associated with SB 236 would take away from the important work of animal agencies to provide a safe haven for homeless animals.
4. Every local jurisdiction in California would have to determine how to change ordinances and how to comply with these new requirements.
5. With a strong focus on neuter/spay programs in the state already showing excellent progress it is non-productive to place additional burdens on our shelter system and divert attention from workable programs already developed that are reaching the attention of the general public.
6. Micro-chipping is a good means of identification, or as a back-up to collar-tag ID, but it should not be mandated for every owned dog and cat in the state. It is not necessary for many animals. A collar and tag is the quickest way for dogs, or cats who are allowed outside or inadvertently get out, to be reunited with their owners. The cost of micro-chipping is considerable and may lead some owners to procrastinate on spay/neuter responsibility. The technology is not perfect and universal scanners that will detect all microchips are expensive - they are not in every animal agency truck or
veterinary office. The bill is more about owner identification and punishment than helping animals.
7. Responsible pet ownership and stopping abandonment of animals can be achieved in positive ways without adding extra costs and punishing every cat and dog owner in the State. Most cats in shelters are unowned/freeroaming/feral and their unweaned offspring. There is already good headway in the state of California to stop the reproduction of these cats and diminish their numbers. Increasing the available spay/neuter voucher programs and other efforts will be far more effective in reducing the numbers of cats in shelters.
What's Wrong With SB 236:
1. This bill would make it "unlawful for any person to own, harbor or keep any dog or cat over the age of four months, unless that dog or cat has been microchipped and the owner's identification has been entered into a [local
or national] registry approved by the Department of Food and Agriculture."
(a) Microchipping is expensive.
(b) Microchipping is not necessary for some animals (e.g., why force microchipping of an elderly cat or dog in poor health and incapable of wandering off the premises?).
(c) The government may use registry information to keep track of every pet owner in the state. The pet owner will have been identified and will be immediately at the mercy of whatever future pet regulation or zoning laws they come up with.
(d) Citizens, veterinarians, and many shelters do not have scanners. The Los Angeles Dept of Animal Control has scanners, but the scanners have sat unused for nearly 3 years. The fastest way to identify most pets is still
the inexpensive collar and tag.
2. You will be required to take out a permit before you can sell a pet. You will be required to have a permit for EACH and EVERY pet you sell, even though it may be a whole litter of puppies or kittens. You will be required to provide the permit numbers in any form of advertising that you use, including newspapers, web sites, oral offers, and fliers.
(a) If you are a private individual and not a nonprofit incorporated shelter, you cannot even charge a small adoption fee to protect a dog or cat you try to place unless you first obtain permission from the government and
pay a fee for EACH and EVERY pet placed. (Adoption fees protect pets from being adopted on a whim by a person that can't afford to care for the pet. Fees also prevent unscrupulous people from adopting a pet with intent to sell to research labs, sell to pet shops, or abuse in youth gang or satanic cult rites. Instances of the latter have been documented many times.)
(b) If your young cat or dog gets out and accidentally gets pregnant, you have to get a permit and pay a fee for each kitten or puppy from the litter that you try to place.
(c) Many people will abandon unwanted litters rather than pay for permits.
(d) This will impose an incredible burden of expense and red tape upon private breeders of home-raised pedigreed kittens and puppies. They will be required to get permission and pay a fee before selling each and every baby
in each and every litter. This plus other portions of SB 236 will eliminate private breeders from the state of California. However, SB 236 will do nothing to eliminate pet shops that sell kittens and puppies from midwestern
puppy and kitten mills. Pet shops can only be regulated by the federal government.
3. All information, including street address and phone number, must be given on the "permit to sell" and will be kept on file by the county clerk and open to public inspection.
PROBLEM: Not only will the government know about it each time you sell a pet, so will everyone else that wants to know. Animal Rights extremists can use the public information to locate and harass private breeders.
4. Even if you GIVE your dog away to someone, even to a friend or relative, you will be required to notify your local animal control department. You will also be required to provide the name and address of the new owner.
PROBLEM: The government will be entitled to know all the details even if you give your dog away to a friend.
5. Local government and animal control departments will be required to enact and enforce most aspects of the bill.
PROBLEM: Administration, data keeping and enforcement will greatly increase animal control costs. The emphasis on collecting fees, keeping records and punishment will divert energy from communities working on far more productive solutions to the homeless dog and cat problem.
Hope this explains better why I call this an "anti-breeder" issue. What is happening in California is going to happen here in Virginia. This first, new, local ordinance is the start - they *will* attempt to adopt it State-wide, just as they did in California. And they will add all sorts of "new and improved" amendments to it so that Virginians will face what Californians are now facing - The total elimination of companion animals. The Animal Rights Extremists seem to feel that the only happy cat/dog is a wild one, living on it's own and totally undomesticated.
Ask all of your friends where they expect to get their next pedigreed cat or purebred dog. Not in California if this passes! The best they'll be able to do is some not-quite-socialized and probably not-quite-healthy puppy-mill product from the Midwest at a pet store.
As a breed preservationist, there are issues here regarding the very survival of entire breeds! If this passes in California, it is also likely to pass here in Virginia. It will be passed in other states as a matter of course over time. If these types of laws are permitted to pass, then the day will come when you won't be able to own a pet anymore.