Bipartisan Pet Protection Bills Advance in California Legislature

Bipartisan Pet Protection Bills Advance in California Legislature

State Sen. Janet Nguyen speaks at a press conference for legislation protecting pets at the Capitol on April 22, 2024. Flanking her are Sen. Josh Newman, left, and Assemblywoman Sharon Quirk-Silva (Travis Gillmore/The Epoch Times)

Travis Gillmore

Travis Gillmore

4/24/2024

Updated: 4/24/2024

SACRAMENTO—Three bills aimed at improving the quality of life for pets in California passed the Senate’s Business, Professions, and Economic Development Committee April 22.
All three measures will next be heard by the Appropriations Committee after clearing their first legislative hurdle, including two bipartisan proposals introduced by Republican Sen. Janet Nguyen, Senate Bills 1459 and 1478.
“Animals have no voice. So we are their voice,” Ms. Nguyen said in an April 22 press release following the passage of her bills. “California needs to be at the forefront of animal welfare and treat dogs, cats and other creatures in our shelters with care and dignity.”
SB 1459 targets public animal shelters’ performance by requiring them to publish publicly available data—updated at least monthly—related to the number of animals scheduled for euthanasia and kennel space available.
Additionally, the number of animals taken in, source of intake, and ultimate outcomes must be included in the database.
Exemptions apply for shelters in counties with fewer than 400,000 residents.
The author said the information will help protect pets while holding shelters accountable for their actions.
Approximately 500,000 cats and dogs were placed in 232 shelters statewide in 2023, and more than 50,000 were euthanized, according to Ms. Nguyen.
Her Democratic co-author and fellow pet-lover agreed the bill will offer protection for animals in shelters.
“As someone who has come to consider our three weird but lovable rescue Chihuahuas among my best friends, I’m a firm believer in the importance of protecting and promoting the well-being of pets,” said Sen. Josh Newman. “These bills will ensure that we not only fulfill our obligation to protect the animals entrusted to our care but also reaffirm our shared commitment to a humane and compassionate society.”
A supporter and co-author representing the Assembly said the bill will improve the lives of pets across the state.
“Pets in shelters deserve humane treatment, and they deserve, and the public deserves accountability when it comes to what is happening to our pets and animal friends,” Assemblywoman Sharon Quirk-Silva said at an April 22 press conference. “Sadly, we know sometimes outcomes are not what we are hoping for, and we can do better.”
Pit bulls peer from their cage at the city animal shelter in San Bernardino, Calif., on Feb. 4, 2014. (Frederic J. Brown/AFP via Getty Images)

Pit bulls peer from their cage at the city animal shelter in San Bernardino, Calif., on Feb. 4, 2014. (Frederic J. Brown/AFP via Getty Images)

Opponents, including the San Diego Humane Society and the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, argued the measure would be difficult to comply with and asked for reports to be quarterly instead of monthly.
“We are fully committed to transparency but are making suggestions ... for practical reasons related to workload and to the nuances in [caring] for animals in shelter,” the groups wrote in opposition in the committee’s legislative analysis.
The opposition also took exception to shelters reporting information regarding cats in trapping and sterilizing programs that are currently released to live outdoors.
“[Such] step outside the industry norm and are both considered unreliable measurement standards and would require new systems for tracking,” the groups said.
Other opponents, including about a dozen individuals, traveled to the Capitol for the hearing to voice their concerns about the definition of “community cats” in the bill. They argued that some cats that are too friendly to fend for themselves could be released back into the wild, under the bill, when they would be better served by placement in shelters until they are adopted.
“There is no such thing as a ‘community cat’ in existing law,” opponents wrote in a letter to the committee April 21 and subsequently shared with The Epoch Times. “However, many shelters across our state ... have used this designation to either turn cats and kittens away at their doors or abandon them back into our communities with no food, shelter, or known caretakers.”
Such policies are potentially jeopardizing the safety of some cats, they argued.
“A program that may have initially intended to help cats now often harms them,” the letter reads.
During the hearing, the author expressed a willingness to work with the opposition to reach an agreement on how best to protect all cats as the bill moves forward through the Legislature.
SB 1478 seeks to standardize medical care for animals in shelters by ordering veterinarians to document time periods by which impounded animals are assessed, protocols to address treatment, protocols for controlling infections and diseases, and treating animals to control pain, among other things.
“[This bill] will provide a standard by which animal shelters can judge the adequacy of their daily treatment and management of the animals in their care,” Ms. Nguyen wrote in the legislative analysis.
She told the committee about a Husky that was left to bleed to death in a shelter last year and said the bill would help prevent similar situations.
“I don’t want to hear any more anecdotes on animal abuse in shelters funded by taxpayers,” she said.
The measure passed with no opposition.
Also passing the committee was Senate Bill 1233—introduced by Sen. Scott Wilk—which mandates the establishment of “high quality, high volume” spay and neuter certification programs at the University of California and Western University of Health Sciences.
The bill additionally aims to expedite sterilization procedures to help control pet populations and reduce the number of animals impounded statewide.
Copy
facebooktwitterlinkedintelegram
Travis Gillmore

Travis Gillmore

Author

Travis Gillmore is an avid reader and journalism connoisseur based in California covering finance, politics, the State Capitol, and breaking news for The Epoch Times.

California Insider
Sign up here for our email newsletter!
©2024 California Insider All Rights Reserved. California Insider is a part of Epoch Media Group.