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February 12, 2009

Citizen Lobbyists Rally at California Capitol Urging Lawmakers to Pass Animal Protection Laws

The Humane Society of the United States

SACRAMENTO, Calif. — Nearly 200 citizens from across the Golden State will converge on the state capitol to meet with their lawmakers today, urging them to pass several animal protection bills being introduced this week. The citizen lobbyists are participating in Humane Lobby Day, which is organized by The Humane Society of the United States, with participation from other animal protection organizations from across the state.

The key animal protection bills that advocates will focus their efforts on are:

  • A.B. 241, introduced by Assemblymember Pedro Nava (D-Santa Barbara), seeks to crack down on abusive puppy mills — where dogs are often kept in filthy cages stacked on top of each other for years on end, without exercise, socialization, or human interaction — by placing a maximum cap on the number of breeding dogs and cats a large-scale seller can possess at one time.
  • A.B. 242, also introduced by Nava, increases criminal penalties for attending a dogfight, since animal fighting spectators fuel this underground industry by paying their admission fees and gambling wagers.
  • S.B. 135, introduced by Senate Majority Leader Dean Florez (D-Shafter), bans painful and unnecessary tail docking of cows, a practice that has no purpose other than convenience and is opposed by humane and veterinary organizations.

Besides pushing these HSUS-supported bills, citizen advocates will also ask lawmakers to reject Gov. Schwarzenegger's "Fido Fine" — a 2009-10 budget proposal to extend the sales tax to veterinary services. This tax, which could amount to as much as 10 percent in some areas, would endanger the health and well-being of animals kept as pets, raised on farms or sheltered by humane agencies.

As part of Humane Lobby Day, advocates will hear welcoming remarks from Majority Leader Florez at 9:40 a.m. in the Capitol, and then join with Assemblymember Nava for a press conference at 11 a.m. on the West Capitol steps. Nava will announce introduction of his 2009 Anti-Cruelty Package, which includes A.B. 241 and A.B. 242, as well as A.B. 243, supported by the Los Angeles Deputy District Attorneys Association, that would give judges the ability to prohibit future animal ownership by people convicted of felony animal cruelty.

"We are ecstatic that so many California advocates are speaking out on behalf of the animals," said Jennifer Fearing, The HSUS' chief economist who is coordinating Lobby Day in California. "California voters care deeply about the humane treatment of animals. With strong leadership by humane lawmakers in the Assembly and Senate, we hope to carry forward the momentum of the overwhelming passage of the Proposition 2 last November, and usher in additional needed laws to protect animals from cruelty."

Last year, state legislatures across the country passed 93 new laws for animals. The HSUS works with animal advocates and state legislators across the country to enact laws protecting animals from cruelty, combating animal fighting, halting wildlife abuse and more. Forty-one states are hosting Humane Lobby Days in February, March and April 2009.

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The Humane Society of the United States is the nation's largest animal protection organization — backed by 11 million Americans, or one of every 30. For more than a half-century, The HSUS has been fighting for the protection of all animals through advocacy, education and hands-on programs. Celebrating animals and confronting cruelty — On the web at humanesociety.org.

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