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June 1, 2012

The Humane Society of the United States Applauds Progress of Animal Protection Legislation in California

As of today’s “house of origin” deadline at the California State Capitol, more than a dozen bills that would protect animals have advanced and two serious threats appear to be defeated. Most of the animal protection bills have passed the initial chamber of the legislature by strong margins and with bipartisan support. This progress for animals continues to cement California’s track record as a front-runner in initiating forward-thinking animal protection legislation.

“We are delighted that as of today’s deadline, every single bill that The Humane Society of the United States is backing in California has advanced and the harmful policies we oppose were stopped,” said Jennifer Fearing, California senior state director for The HSUS. “The actions taken by the legislature reflect Californians' widespread support for strong, enforceable laws to protect animals from cruelty and abuse.”

One chamber has passed the following bills:

  • Senate Bill 1221 to prohibit the “hounding” of bears and bobcats – Championed by Sen. Ted W. Lieu, D-Torrance, this bill would stop the cruel and unsporting practice of allowing packs of radio-collared hound dogs to chase bears and bobcats so hunters can shoot the animals out of a tree. The bill has 12 legislative co-authors, including Senate president pro tem Darrell Steinberg, D-Sacramento, and will be heard next by the Assembly Water, Parks and Wildlife committee on June 12.
  • Senate Bill 1145 to strengthen animal fighting penalties – This bill by Sen. Bill Emmerson, R-Riverside, increases fines for people who are participants or spectators at cockfighting events. It is co-sponsored by San Bernardino District Attorney Michael Ramos.
  • Senate Bill 1229, authored by Sen. Fran Pavley, D-Santa Monica – This bill would prohibit landlords from requiring renters to declaw their cats or devocalize their dogs as a condition of tenancy. The bill is co-sponsored by the Humane Society Veterinary Medical Association and the Paw Project. The California Veterinary Medical Association and the California Apartment Association also support it.
  • Senate Bill 1480 to revise trapping laws to increase consumer and animal protections – This bill is authored by Sen. Ellen Corbett, D-San Leandro, and is co-sponsored by Born Free USA and San Francisco Wildlife Center.   
  • Senate Bill 1500 to improve the handling process for animals seized in cruelty and neglect cases – This bill by Sen. Lieu should lead to a reduction in lengthy, costly and unnecessary sheltering of animals held as evidence in criminal cases, allowing the animals to be placed in new homes more quickly.
  • Assembly Bill 1776 to name the endangered Pacific leatherback sea turtle the official marine reptile of California – With this bill authored by Assemblymember Paul Fong, D-Cupertino, California would join the global effort to conserve this important species.
  • Assembly Bill 1939 to authorize puppy provisional licensing and create a pilot project requiring transfer of owner information to licensing authorities in specified counties – This bill, authored by Assemblymember Richard Pan, D-Sacramento, is an effort to improve California’s dismal dog license compliance rate and to generate much needed revenue for local animal shelters.
  • Assembly Bill 2179 to give the Department of Fish and Game authority to process certain violations through an administrative procedure - This bill by Assemblymember Michael Allen, D-Santa Rosa, is an important step toward addressing California’s rampant wildlife poaching problems.
  • Assembly Bill 2609 to improve the transparency, accountability and quality of the Fish and Game Commission – Authored by Assemblymember Ben Hueso, D-San Diego, this bill would set new requirements, processes and ethical standards for the Commission and its members.

Each chamber also advanced legislation that seeks to implement reforms recommended by the California Fish and Wildlife Vision effort, a process that included The Humane Society of the United States as one of many stakeholders. Legislation by Sen. Pavley (Senate Bill 1148) and Assemblymember Jared Huffman, D-San Rafael (Assembly Bill 2402) along with a bill by Assemblymember Anthony Portantino, D-La Canada Flintridge (Assembly Bill 2283) seek to improve the science, transparency, accountability and operations of California’s Department of Fish and Game.

Other bills supported by The HSUS that have advanced include Assembly Bill 1589 by Assemblymember Huffman to create protections and support for state parks, and Assembly Bill 1784 by Assemblymember Bill Monning, D-Monterey, which authorizes research on mountain lions.

The legislature has also failed to advance two efforts that would have been very detrimental to California’s animals:

  • Both the Senate and Assembly budget committees unanimously rejected the governor’s proposal to  repeal the so-called “Hayden Law” mandates, which requires important protections for pets at animal shelters including veterinary care, posting to lost and found lists, and being held an extra two to three days before being euthanized.
  • Despite a vigorous eleventh-hour attempt by well-heeled interests, Assembly Speaker John Perez, D-Los Angeles, and Senate leader Steinberg announced there will be no legislation to weaken or repeal the 2004 anti-cruelty law championed by former Senator John Burton. The ban on force-feeding ducks to produce “foie gras” (fatty liver), as well as the sale of products from force-fed ducks, is scheduled to go into effect on July 1.

In 2010 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 27 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.

Media Contact: Stephanie Twining, 240-751-3943, stwining@humanesociety.org

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