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The HSUS Applauds Governor Brown’s Enactment of New Animal Protection Reforms

California cracks down on shark finning, animal fighting, and pet overpopulation

SACRAMENTO – Championed by The Humane Society of the United States and other advocacy organizations, backed by Californians, and supported by overwhelmingly bi-partisan votes in the Legislature, the seven bills signed into law by Gov. Jerry Brown this session add to California’s track record as a front-runner in initiating path-breaking animal protection legislation.

“The animals themselves may be voiceless, but Governor Brown's signature speaks volumes,” said HSUS senior state director Jennifer Fearing. “These laws reflect Californians' widespread support for strong, enforceable laws to protect animals.”

The governor has joined the legislature in enacting the following bills this year:

  • Senate Bill 425 and 426 to crack down on animal fighting  – These bills by Sen. Ronald Calderon, D-Montebello, increase the fine for bringing a minor to a cockfight, set a higher fine for specific animal fighting activities, add cockfighting to the state’s existing dogfighting profiteering statute, and define animal fighting as a public nuisance.  Since 2008, there have been more than 110 law enforcement incidences involving cockfighting in California, with more than 21,000 birds found dead or alive in connection with the blood sport.
  • Assembly Bill 376 to protect sharks and oceans – Championed by Assemblymembers Paul Fong, D-Cupertino, and Jared Huffman, D-San Rafael, this bill prohibits the possession, sale, trade and distribution of shark fins hoping to quell the cruel killing of up to 73 million sharks per year for shark fin soup.
  • Assembly Bill 1117 to protect animals from victimization and reduce criminal recidivism –Authored by Assemblymember Cameron Smyth, R-Santa Clarita, it amends California’s Penal Code to prohibit criminals convicted of specific animal cruelty crimes from owning animals for a specified period of time. Fourteen states already grant judges this authority to help prevent future crimes against animals.
  • Assembly Bill 564 to generate funds to support spay/neuter –Authored by Assemblymembers Smyth and Cathleen Galgiani, D-Livingston, to re-establish the voluntary contribution fund on California personal income tax forms to support the Municipal Spay/Neuter Fund, which issued more than $400,000 in grants during the two years it was on the form previously.
  • Senate Bill 917 to stop animal abuse and protect consumers – This legislation, by Senator Ted Lieu, D-Torrance, prohibits the sale of animals in roadsides, parking lots, and other unregulated venues and also corrects a disparity in the criminal penalty between animal cruelty and animal neglect.
  • Assembly Bill 258 to allow rabies vaccine exemptions for health-compromised dogs – This bill, sponsored by the Humane Society Veterinary Medical Association and championed by Assemblymember Curt Hagman, R-Chino, would allow a dog owner to license an unvaccinated dog if a veterinarian certifies that the anti-rabies vaccine would be a life-threatening health risk for the dog.

These bills all passed the legislature with bipartisan support, and most with strong margins. Last year the HSUS helped spur the formation of a new legislative animal protection caucus. This bipartisan coalition supports common-sense, humane animal welfare laws. In its second year, the caucus includes 26 members and is co-chaired by Assemblymembers Jose Solorio, D-Anaheim, and Cameron Smyth, R-Santa Clarita, and Sens. Loni Hancock, D-Oakland, and Tony Strickland, R-Thousand Oaks.

The Governor announced that he vetoed two bills HSUS supported, deferring to local governments to enact laws.

  • Assembly Bill 1121 and Senate Bill 702 to help homeless pets and local animal shelters – AB 1121 by Assemblymember Richard Pan, D-Sacramento, reduces barriers to dog licensing in California, helping to save dogs’ lives, reduce sheltering costs and generate revenue to support shelter operations. SB 702 by Sen. Ted Lieu, D-Torrance, requires the microchipping of all dogs and cats released from animal shelters as a life-saving pet identification measure.


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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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