Friday, August 22, 2008

AB 1634 is dying, and shelter programs will likely benefit

The California legislation that would have required mandatory spay or neuter of nearly all dogs and cats in the state is dying in the state legislature due to lack of support. The sponsor, Democrat assemblyman Lloyd Levine (Dem - Van Nuys) has almost zero chance to round up enough votes to get it passed this session - especially given the current (recurrent) budget crisis that is demanding the legislature's closing days. And 'ol Lloyd is termed out and will not be back next session.

Why is this good news for animals, shelters, and animal control officers?

I have been reading a communique from the American Sporting Dog Alliance that, among other things had the following report on the impact of the recent mandatory spay and neuter law in the City of Los Angeles...

The City of Los Angeles passed an ordinance this year that mandates spaying and neutering of virtually all dogs. In theory, the ordinance allows for owners of intact dogs used for show, performance events or breeding to buy expensive special licenses, provided they work through an approved registry. Thus far, no dog registry, including the American Kennel Club, has been approved.

The ordinance is supposed to take effect October 1 but animal control revenues have already plunged, an August 19 audit by City Controller Laura Chick shows.

According to the audit report, license sales and revenues have dropped substantially and the program’s budget is drenched in red ink.

Chick’s fiscal audit found the Los Angeles Animal Services Department has lost “millions of dollars” in revenue by failing to license and renew the licenses of hundreds of thousands of dogs.

A reported 27 animal control officers will have to be laid off, the city doesn’t have the money to open a new $14 million satellite shelter, there has been no money to pay for any of the required community outreach and no money is available to enforce the new ordinance

"If you don't put something behind (the ordinance), then it's a feel-good gesture, and we don't want to be a city that does empty feel-good gestures," City Controller Chick said. "I always think that legislators should research, not only the outcomes and impacts ... but should always research and ask questions about enforcement. Otherwise we, government, run the danger of enacting legislation that is not going to be enforced, which to me is the clearest of messages to our citizenry and our public -- go ahead and be a scofflaw, nothing's going to happen."

Los Angeles also has stalled on a plan to create satellite centers for spay and neuter procedures, as veterinarians simply aren’t signing up to do the job, the audit shows.

It is indeed sad that a shelter program with the potential to save thousands of animals is so thoroughly mismanaged and that politicians stand ready to apply 'feel good' good solutions to problems that are not only based on bad information and unproven methods, but actually obstruct the ability to deal with the problem. 

The HSUS spent a lot of time and money in California to shape, promote and support AB1634 and its local offspring. These have all failed - either to become law, or, in the case of Los Angeles, to demonstrate that mandatory spay and neuter has any viability as a population control measure. And we now have a clear demonstration of how big a disaster municipal animal control operations have been spared statewide. 

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