Article Last Updated: 03/01/2007 10:31:55 PM
VAN NUYS - Assemblyman Lloyd Levine - who has
proposed legalizing euthanasia, banning the
incandescent light bulb and prohibiting cruelty to
elephants - has done it again.
Now, he wants to make it mandatory to spay or
neuter nearly every dog and cat in California.
But the bill, meant to combat the
overpopulation of strays by requiring all dogs and
cats to be spayed or neutered, has also drawn fire
from breeders who would have to pay to register
The bill, if passed, would help save the
500,000 dogs and cats euthanized in California
each year, said Levine, D-Van Nuys.
"We simply have a huge problem in the
state with pet overpopulation," he said.
"I can't tell you how many people have
complained to me about cats defecating in their
yards, flower beds ... and in sandboxes where kids
"It's a huge public-safety and
Assembly Bill 1634 was introduced Thursday and
hasn't yet had a committee hearing.
Drafted by the office of City Attorney Rocky
Delgadillo, the California Health Pets Act has the
strong support of Los Angeles Mayor Antonio
Villaraigosa, a former speaker of the Assembly.
A statewide spay-neuter law would follow the
lead of Los Angeles County and states such as
Rhode Island, which have already passed similar
"This is part of our overall plan to make
Los Angeles the first major metropolitan city in
the nation to be no-kill," said Ed Boks,
general manager of the city Animal Services
Department, which spent about $13million to
process 42,000 animals last year and ultimately
euthanized 19,000 dogs and cats.
"I'm very excited about it," added
Woodland Hills resident Charlotte Laws, president
of Directors of Animal Welfare, which has
representatives in more than 50 neighborhood
councils and community groups. "Low-cost
spay-neutering on a massive scale is the No.1 way
to achieve no-kill."
Breeders would pay
Some dog and cat enthusiasts, however, argue
that the bill would force breeders - who would be
required to pay unspecified "intact
permits" - to go underground, and ultimately
it would not make a dent in the growing population
They say breeders already go out of their way
to avoid clogging local shelters with strays.
"It may be well-intentioned, but it's
poorly aimed," said Diane Jacobsen, 65, of
Sebastopol, who has been breeding Rhodesian
Ridgebacks for 45 years.
If the bill becomes law, Jacobsen's dogs would
qualify for an intact permit, which would exempt
animals from spaying if they are purebred and
registered with specific purebred kennel
associations. Exceptions would also be made for
animals used for professional purposes, including
guide and police dogs.
The permit fee, which would apply to each pet,
would be set by local animal-control agencies. In
Los Angeles County, such permits cost breeders $30
per dog. Other jurisdictions could potentially
charge much more.
Pet owners who don't get permits and don't
sterilize their pets by the time the animals are
4months old would face costly fines under the
Local animal-control agencies would retain
money collected through fines and the new permit
to help pay for subsidized spaying and neutering
Bearing the brunt
While some Los Angeles-area breeders understand
the need for such a law, they complain that they
are being forced to bear the brunt for others'
"It makes it really difficult for
small-time breeders," said Krista Dragna of
North Hollywood, a former animal-control officer
who breeds Maltese dogs that sell for up to $2,500
"We're the ones who are getting hurt.
We're the ones who are paying the price, but we're
the ones who aren't" causing the problem, she
Sandra Whittaker, who breeds English bulldogs
in Lancaster, agreed.
"I have mixed emotions," she said.
"Part of me says, `Yea for people who don't
breed and have puppy after puppy after puppy, or
kitten after kitten after kitten' - and the humane
society is full of those (animals).
"But then you have pure breeders, like
myself; we're responsible. And when we have to pay
permits to keep our dogs intact, it's not
Proponents of the bill argue that the numbers
are overwhelmingly in support of curtailing the
number of dogs and cats that are being picked up
by animal-control officers every year.
More than 841,000 dogs and cats entered animal
shelters in 2005, and about half were euthanized,
said Judie Mancuso, campaign director for a
coalition of bill supporters.
She said local governments spend more than
$250million each year to care for and kill
"We're not telling them they need to stop
breeding," said Mancuso, who helped write the
bill. "We're just saying, "Pay part of
your burden to society, to the taxpayers."'
Wire services contributed to this report.
More from Levine
Here are some of the other bills that
Assemblyman Lloyd Levine, D-Van Nuys, has
Ban the sale of lamps that use incandescent
bulbs by 2012.
Prevent cruelty to elephants, similar to a
measure introduced last session.
Allow 16 federally recognized Indian tribal
governments to participate in the Southern
California Association of Governments.
Tighten penalties for anyone who does not
report a handgun stolen or lost within a certain
Fund a car-pool lane on the San Diego Freeway.
Create a San Fernando Valley statistical
Prohibit the commercial sale and transfer of
cloned or genetically modified pets in California.
Label electronic appliances that use
electricity in standby modes with how much power
they use and the cost.