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April 21, 2009

Calif. Senate Committee Takes Step Toward Banning Dairy Cow Mutilation

Precedent-Setting Legislation Moved by Senate Food and Agriculture Committee

The Humane Society of the United States

The California Senate Committee on Food and Agriculture approved a bill that aims to prevent a common dairy cow mutilation. Introduced by California Senate Majority Leader Dean Florez, S.B. 135 bans the painful and unnecessary tail docking of dairy cows.

S.B. 135 has a broad measure of support, including bill sponsor The Humane Society of the United States, the California Veterinary Medical Association, agriculture scientists and animal welfare and public health experts. The American Veterinary Medical Association opposes routine tail docking of dairy cows as well. S.B. 135 moves now to the Senate Public Safety Committee, which will take up the bill before the May 1 deadline for fiscal bills.

Sen. Florez said, "Californians' broad concern for farm animal welfare inspired the formation of the new Committee on Food and Agriculture, so it's especially fitting that one of the first bills we passed will stop needless animal cruelty inflicted on animals raised for food." 

"There's just no reason to mutilate dairy cattle for this purpose, and we are pleased that the industry is recognizing tail docking as an archaic practice," added Wayne Pacelle, president and CEO of The HSUS. "California voters insist on humane treatment of all animals, including those raised for food."

In January, Sen. Florez reorganized the California Senate Committee on Food and Agriculture into a body that includes animal welfare as one of its priorities. Sen. Florez cited California's landslide passage of Prop 2, the Prevention of Farm Animal Cruelty Act, as an inspiration for the revamped committee.

Facts

  • There are approximately 1.8 million cows raised for milk on 2,200 farms in California, the nation's top dairy-producing state.
  • A recent University of California survey indicates that 10 to 15 percent of California cows are raised in operations where tail docking is practiced.
  • Tail docking is the partial amputation of up to two-thirds of a dairy cow's tail, usually without anesthetic. The California Veterinary Medical Association, American Veterinary Medical Association and The HSUS oppose the practice. S.B. 135's passage would make California the first state to ban tail docking.
  • In a landslide November vote, Californians approved the Prevention of Farm Animal Cruelty Act — a new law making it a criminal offense (with a phase-out period) to confine hens in battery cages, pigs in gestation crates and calves in veal crates.

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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 28. 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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