I'm writing to share my opposition to this bill. I hope you'll read on to see how this bill will hit you very personally!
Being involved with my dog clubs, I've been seeing a lot of publicity opposing this bill. Has the world outside my dog clubs been seeing it? It's very scary - especially since it is trying to address an issue that I *am* interested in seeing addressed - pet neutering. I definitely favor pet breeding only being done by responsible people who know what they are doing and make the best interests of their pet species/breed their number number one priority, who have educated themselves on healthy animal husbandry, who take complete responsibility for the placement of their litters, and who are proactive in the education of their buyers in matters of pet health and pet training and pet control and pet happiness.
However this bill, AB1634 "the healthy pet act" that recently narrowly passed out of the state assembly, takes a broad and unresponsible swipe at the issue of pet overpopulation. Generalizing the problem statewide and applying a single global fix is destructive to efforts that are already succeeding in these matters and is turning a blind eye to other major factors contributing to animal shelter overpopulation.
This bill proposes that all pets in this state shall be neutered before they are 4 months old (this may be getting modified to 6 months). Major holes and flaws in the bill are already being identified by all who read the bill.
1. Dozens and dozens of exceptions are already being written into the bill, trying to support legitimate breeders and legitimately intact animals, making it an unmaintainable labyrinth to figure out who and what defines legitimate, and by whom and how legitimacy or illegitimacy will be enforced. All service and show animals will have the burden of proof to document whether they are legitimate - police, search and rescue, seeing eye, therapy, the huge stockdog industry, etc. The majority of amateur breeders who are bettering their breeds, and buyers of their breeds, with careful thoughtfulness will no longer be legal. Breeders outside the state and outside the law will dominate in the void left by responsible amateur breeding.
2. All the successes currently enjoyed by urban and suburban animal shelters whose kill rates are dramatically decreasing (due to publicity and cooperation with the huge network of amateur breeders in this state) will be overridden and invalidated by a bill that claims education doesn't work. Further, a bill that addresses domestic pets doesn't help the rural shelters filled to the gills with feral animals.
3. On a more personal level, I'm curious as to the appropriateness of the government being involved in decisions of a medical nature, decisions whose bottom line should be informed by a trained medical professional. Veterinarians will be the first to recommend their clients neuter their pet, but the age at which to neuter your pet is completely dependent on the nature of the pet. Ask your vet about the long-term risks of neutering your pet too early in their physical development. Physical development varies amongst pets, depending on their adult size and their species. Further: how many people will stop getting regular vet care (rabies shots!) for their pets because they don't want their vet to report them for an illegally intact pet?
4. There is a multi-million dollar business in this state in dog and cat shows, bringing huge revenues to the local communities hosting them. The main dog purebreed registry in this country, the AKC, and its sponsor Eukanuba are already drafting propositions to abandon plans to hold the 2009 AKC Nationals in Long Beach. Be aware that this equivalent of Westminster requires that all entrants be intact (UNneutered). It's not just politics - people bringing their animals to these shows don't want to risk getting picked up by the Neuter Police and have the foundation of their breeding line be forceably neutered, just for crossing the stateline. The risk is real unless they can locate whomever has been designated as the local enforcing agency and prove (before the knife comes out) that the animal is "legitimate".
I'm very worried about the future of the USDAA Southwestern Regional Dog Agility Championships (500 dogs) that have been held in Sunnyvale annually since 2002. This bill would spell the end to the annual Golden Gate Kennel Club benched dog show (2200 dogs) held at the Cow Palace every winter.
Saturday morning, come on down to city hall at 10AM and show your state senator how you'd like him to represent you in this matter, especially if you oppose! Big money is behind the support for this bill (PETA and friends), and it will take numbers - lots of bodies who are worried about the future of pet ownership in California - to succeessfully oppose it!
Thanks for your time...