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May 24, 2011 > Ohlone Humane Society: It's the law! Or it should be

Ohlone Humane Society: It's the law! Or it should be

By Nancy Lyon

This is National Be Kind to Animals Month, a great sentiment that raises the question "Why just one month... why not all year long?"

Unfortunately, it sometimes becomes necessary to advance the cause of kindness and responsibility to our non-human friends by creating laws to protect their welfare. It's to this end that legislation is brought before our state and national representatives in pursuit of their safety and wellbeing. Compassion, it seems, must sometimes be mandated by the law.

Paw PAC, a highly respected political action committee for animals, has compiled its current alert that critiques California animal welfare and environmental legislation as it plows through the political minefield. The following bills are still in the process of being considered by your elected representatives in the State Senate and Assembly and have been selected from a list of current bills either supported or opposed by PAW PAC and OHS:

California Assembly bills

AB 376 by Paul Fong re: Sharks: SUPPORT
Prohibits possession and sale of shark fins
To Be Heard: Assembly Floor
Tell legislators that shark populations are threatened by the practice of catching sharks, cutting off fins and throwing the rest back into the sea to die a slow lingering death. Sharks are a vital part of the world eco-system and the horribly cruel practice of finning is a critical factor in the decline of the shark population impacting the long term health of our oceans.

AB 606 by Mike Gatto re: Hunting: OPPOSE
Requires the Wildlife Conservation Board to allow hunting on land under their jurisdiction
To Be Heard: Senate Natural Resources
Tell legislators AB 606 is a power grab by hunters to gain control of our state's land, wildlife and the Wildlife Conservation Board.

AB 258 by Curt Hagman re: Rabies: SUPPORT
Allows exemption of rabies shot requirement for dogs with medical conditions as determined annually by a veterinarian. Dogs cannot be off leash and cannot meet with any other dog who does not have the shot.
To Be Heard: Assembly Floor
Tell legislators that a rabies shot can sometimes compromise a dog's health.

California Senate bills

SB 425 by Ron Calderon re: Animal Fighting SUPPORT
Establishes minimum fines for dog/cock fighting and allows property forfeitures for cock fighting as is currently provided for dog fighting.
To Be Heard: Senate Floor
Tell legislators minimal fines are considered the cost of doing business. Increased fines and property forfeiture will enhance compliance and enforcement.

SB 917 by Ted Lieu re: Cruelty and Animal Sales SUPPORT
Makes criminal penalties consistent (possible felonies) for animal abuse and prohibits sales of animals on streets, parking lots, highways, carnivals, and boardwalks.
To Be Heard: Senate Floor, May 23
If passed, it will go to the Assembly Public Safety Committee
Tell legislators penalties should be clear and consistent to assist enforcement. Animals sold on streets and parking lots commonly come from puppy mills in Mexico.

A number of important bills that have fiscal impact on the State budget were moved to the suspense file where Senate bills will be reviewed on May 26 and Assembly bills May 27. The following bills were relegated to the suspense file:

AB 1117 by Cameron Smyth re: Cruelty SUPPORT
Strengthens existing law on confiscation and holding animals in cruelty cases, allowing a Judge to prohibit possession of animals by those guilty of cruelty. A Prosecutor will be able to sever an abuser's property rights. AB 1117 would help keep animal abusers away from animals and help confiscated animals from being held for months as court evidence.

AB 1162 by Wes Chesbro re: Poaching SUPPORT
Would increase the maximum fine to $40,000 for poaching wildlife using artificial light or bait for poaching trophy deer, elk, antelope, bighorn sheep or wild turkey. It also creates a new crime for using a "signal emitting device" when poaching bears to sell their parts. Poaching is highly lucrative and fines are a cost of doing business. The fines should be raised to be a meaningful fiscal penalty.

AB 164 by Joe Simitian re: Endangered Species Tax Check-Off SUPPORT
Extends the Rare and Endangered Species Program tax check-off to 2018. Programs such as the Spay/Neuter Check-Off, have been very successful as public efforts to protect animals - wild and domestic.

AB 564 by Cameron Smyth re: Spay/Neuter Tax Check-Off SUPPORT
Re-authorizes the tax check-off for spay/neuter and requires tax preparers to tell clients about the opportunity to donate to the fund for spay/neuter. Tell legislators the check-off is a great way for tax payers to fight pet overpopulation.

SB 752 by Tom Berryhill re: Hunting OPPOSE
Requires the Department of Fish and Game to accept donations for hunting organizations when selling hunting licenses. It would create a bad precedent for any licensed special interest to make a government agency become a repository for donations to those organizations.

This year in California, many animal protection bills failed to find elected officials with the courage and independence needed to author them. Faced with predictably strong opposition from vested interests such as hunters, live animal markets and agriculture, the bills become political hot potatoes; animals and the environment become victims in the game of politics.

For a comprehensive list of current California bills, analyses, and votes, visit You can subscribe to view bills and receive email updates on them. Paw PAC's legislative email alerts are available by emailing or calling (510) 222-2236.

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