April 8, 2010
Californians Gather in Sacramento to Lobby for Animal Protection
Animal advocates from across California are gathering at the State Capitol for Humane Lobby Day on Thursday. Humane Lobby Day, hosted by The Humane Society of the United States and the ASPCA® (The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals®), is connecting nearly 300 advocates with lawmakers to support animal welfare legislation.
"Humane Lobby Day is a unique opportunity for animal advocates from across the state to meet with their legislators and work for stronger animal protection laws," said Jennifer Fearing, California senior state director for The HSUS. "Californians are urging their representatives to support stronger penalties for animal neglect, to require accurate labeling of fur garments, to protect California horses from slaughter, and to oppose an expansion of the state's trophy hunt of bears."
"There are several animal-friendly bills pending and animal lovers have an opportunity to meet with their elected officials and be the voice for animals," added Jill Buckley, senior director of Government Relations & Mediation for the ASPCA. "We're thrilled with the number of supporters attending the event, and hope to make headway with state legislators to enact stronger laws protecting animals from cruelty."
Proposed expansion of bear trophy hunt
In addition to lobby training and meetings with their elected officials, advocates will be joined by Sen. Leland Yee, D-San Francisco, at a rally at the Capitol in opposition to a proposal by the California Department of Fish and Game to expand the state's trophy hunting of bears.
The department's ill-advised proposal would expand trophy hunting in additional counties and allow more bears to be killed each season. It would also expand high-tech hound hunting of bears in the state, including authorizing the unsportsmanlike use of GPS collars that allow trophy hunters to track bears remotely, and "tip switches" that notify trophy hunters from afar when a bear has been treed.
Assemblymembers Fiona Ma, D-San Francisco, and Ted Lieu, D-Torrance, will brief the assembled advocates about their legislation (AB 1656) to protect consumers by requiring that all garments made with animal fur be accurately labeled. Recent investigations in the Los Angeles, San Francisco and Sacramento areas found unlabeled fur jackets for sale at well-known stores, in several instances being described by the salespeople as fake fur. AB 1656 passed the Assembly earlier this week.
Although a federal law governs labeling of fur apparel, a loophole allows those garments trimmed with fur valued at $150 or less to remain unlabeled, often leaving consumers in the dark as to whether many fur-trimmed jackets and coats contain animal fur. Humane Lobby Day participants are asking the legislature to pass AB 1656 and make California the sixth state to require fur labeling.
Penalties for animal cruelty and neglect
Californians are also voicing their support for AB 2012, a bill introduced by Assemblymember Ted Lieu to increase penalties for animal neglect. While this crime currently is only punishable with a fine of up to $20,000 and up to six months in jail, AB 2012 adds the possibility of one year of jail time in egregious neglect cases.
Horse slaughter resolution
Animal advocates are also backing a resolution aimed at protecting California horses from slaughter for human consumption. Sen. Dean Florez, D-Shafter, has proposed a joint legislative resolution asking the U.S. Congress to pass the Prevention of Equine Cruelty Act (H.R. 503/S. 727), bills that would prohibit the possession, transport, purchase and sale of horses in interstate or foreign commerce for slaughter for human consumption.
Last year, states across the country enacted 121 new laws for animals. During 2009, California legislators passed landmark bipartisan legislation, including upgrading penalties for dogfighting; protecting La Jolla's harbor seal habitat; prohibiting the cruel and unnecessary docking of cow's tails; and increasing fines on those who poach our state's wildlife. This year, a new California Animal Protection legislative caucus was formed and already boasts 25 members from both parties. Caucus co-chairs Assemblymember Cameron Smyth, R-Santa Clarita, and Pedro Nava, D-Santa Barbara, along with caucus member Assemblymember Dave Jones, D-Sacramento, will also meet with Lobby Day participants.
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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.
Founded in 1866, the ASPCA® (The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals®) is the first humane organization established in the Americas and serves as the nation's leading voice for animal welfare. One million supporters strong, the ASPCA's mission is to provide effective means for the prevention of cruelty to animals throughout the United States. As a 501 [c]  not-for-profit corporation, the ASPCA is a national leader in the areas of anti-cruelty, community outreach and animal health services. The ASPCA, which is headquartered in New York City, offers a wide range of programs, including a mobile clinic outreach initiative, its own humane law enforcement team, and a groundbreaking veterinary forensics team and mobile animal CSI unit. For more information, please visit aspca.org.