photo: Alley Cat Allies
photo: Alley Cat Allies

The California State Assembly voted to oppose S.B. 250, the “pet responsibility act”.  This bill was intended to put additional rules in place that would require mandatory spay/neuter of household pets.  Although almost everybody agrees that dog and cat (and bunny, rat, hamster) populations are seriously out of hand, and that the best solution is to decrease the number of breeding pets, this bill was viewed as especially punitive for low-income pet owners and caregivers of feral cat colonies.  It pretty much required animal control agencies to collect any stray animals that haven’t been “fixed” and warehouse them until collected by an owner or adopted.  With the state budget problems in California, shelters are now only required to hold animals for 3 days before they’re euthanized, so these lost animals wouldn’t be around too long in many areas of the state.  And it doesn’t really matter if a feral cat has been spayed or neutered, these cats are very rarely adopted.  Opponents of S.B. 250, including Alley Cat Allies, are much more in favor of programs that make spay/neuter services low-cost or free, and more readily available to pet owners.  And the trap-neuter-return program has proven to be a very effective way to control feral cat colonies.  This bill doesn’t include support for either of these approaches.  Now that it has failed, maybe a modified version that incorporates the ideas from responsible pet owners and feral cat caregivers will be brought forward.

Mellowcat’s Assembly representative Ira Ruskin voted in favor of S.B. 250.  The full wrath and fury of Mellowcat is now being marshalled in opposition to Assemblyman Ruskin.

4 thoughts on “ feral power ”

  1. As more and more of these MSN (mandatory spay/neuter) laws are being passed around the country, we are getting more and more evidence that, not only do punative laws like SB250 NOT work to reduce shelter populations, they frequently increase them. Judie Mancuso, the woman behind SB250 (and the previous failed MSN bill, AB1634) got a similar law passed in Los Angeles and the euthanasia numbers there have gone up by 24%. Lake Co. has a strict MSN law and their shelter numbers are the worst in the state. Similar things have happened in Albuquerque, Dallas, Louisville, etc., etc. Mancuso cites the Santa Cruz law as a success because the shelter numbers went down but she neglects to tell you that they went down by that much or more all over the state and in areas nearby to Santa Cruz with similar demographics, they kill many fewer animals and their Animal Control costs are drastically less than Santa Cruz’s.

    What works is, instead of creating a bureaucracy that punishes animal-owners, to use that money to make sure there are low-cost or free neuter clinics available (especially in low-income areas) and to educate, educate, educate. Google what Bill Bruce has been doing to turn Calgary into a No-Kill city for other inovative and effective solutions to stop the killing in shelters.)

    1. I totally agree – more can certainly be done to help the cause of reducing the number of homeless animals in shelters through the support of programs that work, as you’ve indicated in your note. And there are many volunteer organizations and shelters that have really improved the education outreach; more support for these groups will make a big difference. Although S.B. 250 appears to be on hold for now, it will probably come back in a somewhat revised form next year. The current CA Senate Majority Leader is the author of the bill, and so there’s probably a fair amount of backroom arm-twisting and deal-making that will result in votes for the bill next time. But the voices in opposition to the bill were heard pretty clearly this time, so maybe the bill will be rewritten to approach the problem in a more productive way.

  2. There has been an incredible amount of arm-twisting by Florez to get it this far. He is a master of the “carrot and stick”. But there is no way that this could ever be turned into a productive bill if Judie Mancuso is still attached. We need to start all over again.

    A bit of history: Florez voted against AB1634, Mancuso’s earlier bill sponsored by Lloyd Levine, so Florez seems to know that MSN doesn’t work. However Florez is termed out now and he wants to be Lt. Governor and Mancuso can reach her hand into the deep, rich pockets of the Hollywood animal rights establishment. She has urged them all with highly emotional pleas to contribute to Florez’s campaign fund and, even at this early date, that fund is now larger than any fund has ever been for that office. Florez doesn’t care about animals; he cares about getting elected for higher office. (And I’m a dyed-in-the-wool Democrat who will be voting for Florez’s Republican opponent. I guess I should thank him for offering me this unique experience. )

    SB250 wasn’t just another version of AB1634; it was tremendously vindictive. Provisions within the bill allowed for any anonymous call to Animal Control, even it if was totally false, to give AC the right to confiscate all a person’s animals, forcibly sterilize them, fine the owner heavily and ban her FOREVER from owning an intact animal in California. There was NO due process and NO appeal. (That was unconstitutional, of course, but who has the million or so it would take to prove that in the courts? And it could never have been done in time to save the genetic potential of the confiscated animals.)

    SB250 was Mancuso’s revenge against all the good honest breeders who defeated AB1634. Many of us who opposed AB1634 have received threats. I’ve had people with hate in their eyes try to follow me home from a public meeting where I opposed MSN so I now live with padlocks on all my gates and never, ever leave my dogs unsupervised. We have no doubt that, if SB250 passes, anonymous calls will be phoned in against us all. I have already made arrangements to get my salukis out of the state if SB250 passes.

    Yes, I am a breeder. In 40 long years, I have had 7 litters of a rare and ancient breed. Every pup I bred had a good long life. Saluki breeders co-operate to keep the gene pool vital so that this 6,000 year old breed will continue to thrive. If laws like SB250 keep getting passed, this amazing 6,000 year old heritage won’t last another 60.

    That being said, I also have personally rescued probably 50 animals for every one I have ever bred. (Got 5 foster kittens in my home right now.) Every breeder-friend of mine also spends a lot of time and energy and money on rescue and these are the people that Mancuso’s bills have targeted so that we all have had to fight tooth-and-nail to stop Mancuso’s bills to protect our animals. I get so incredibly angry when I think of what we could have done if we had spent all that time, energy and money on devising effective solutions to helping the unfortunate animals in shelters. We could have saved a lot of lives.

    We need to come up with new solutions. And we MUST come up with a new coalition to get effective laws passed. Proposing bills that demonize all breeders as Mancuso’s bills have done, saps all that amazing energy that could have gone to saving animals instead. Mancuso and the radical fringe of the “animal rights” movement operate out of hate (hate that I have seen in their eyes and it scares me so much that it shows up in my dreams.) We need get beyond this “breeder hatred” and utilize the time and energy and committment of breeders to help solve the problems of unwanted animals instead us having to use it to defend our own animals. All breeders became breeders because we love animals; don’t forget that.


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