SB250 was amended April 2, 2009. This version of the bill is not fundamentally different from the bill as introduced. There is some minor rewording but no important changes.
I originally wrote a long detailed analysis of the bill, but by the time I finished, I realized it wasn’t necessary. In spite of the all the complex language, the bill is really very simple.
SB250 is the Pet Owner Punishment Act
There may be some odd corner cases, but overall no new infractions are imposed on dog owners. But the new penalties for existing infractions. Holy Cow! One misstep and for the rest of your life, your dogs are subject to mandatory spay/neuter at the whims of your local animal control agency. Get cited for a barking dog, even if you were out of town and the dog was with you, then for the rest of your life, at any time, AC can swoop in and force you to spay/neuter your dogs. You can’t even sell your dogs or give them away. You must shell out $300 plus to have each and every one spayed or neutered. Or turn them over to the pound to kill. The only new legal requirement is that an unlicensed intact dog that is impounded, must be spayed or neutered, at the owner’s expense, before the dog can be released. And of course that additional $300 plus cost of spay/neuter wouldn’t prevent anyone from reclaiming their dog would it? SB250 will kill dogs.
Here are the two critical points:
First: The bill requires that every dog be licensed “pursuant to Section 121690″ or as required by the local jurisdiction. That’s just the normal dog license you are already required to get. State law requires that the license for an intact dog cost at least twice as much as for a spayed or neutered dog.
(c) An unaltered dog license may be denied or revoked for one or more of the following reasons:
(c)(2) The licensing agency has issued one citation verified by the agency
pursuant to existing policies and procedures that the owner,
custodian, applicant, or licensee has allowed a dog to be stray or
run at large or has otherwise been found to be neglectful of his or
her or other animals.
(c)(3) The owner, custodian, applicant, or licensee has been
previously cited for violating a state law, or a city, county, or other
local governmental provision relating to the care and control of
That pretty much covers it. You have to have an intact license and if you have ever been cited for an animal violation or “been found to be neglectful of [your] other animals” your intact licenses can be denied or revoked. At any time. For all of your dogs. Forever.
If that weren’t bad enough here’s the real horror. You don’t even have to be found guilty of the violation you were cited for. Just receiving the citation alone is enough to drop the ax. Here’s the definition of “citation”.
- n. 1) a notice to appear in court due to the probable commission of a minor crime such as a traffic violation, drinking liquor in a park where prohibited, letting a dog loose without a leash, and in some states for possession of a small amount of marijuana. Failure to appear can result in a warrant for the citee’s arrest.
A citation is just a notice to appear in court. No requirement that you were ever found to have actually been in violation of any law. So even if you were found innocent of the charges in a citation, you are still guilty under SB250. And you have to have an intact license to sell or give away a dog. So your only choices are to pay to spay/neuter or dump the dog at the pound.
The other disaster in the bill is this:
(h) If an unlicensed unaltered dog or cat is impounded pursuant
to state or local law, in addition to satisfying applicable
requirements for the release of the animal, including, but not
limited to, payment of impound fees pursuant to this section, the
owner or custodian shall also do one of the following:
(2) Have the dog or cat spayed or neutered by a veterinarian
associated with the licensing agency at the expense of the owner
or custodian. That expense may include additional fees due to any
extraordinary care required.
(3) Arrange to have the dog or cat spayed or neutered by another
veterinarian licensed in this state.
So when an unlicensed, intact dog ends up in the shelter, and the owner comes to pick him up, not only does he get to pay all the existing fees. He must pay to have the dog spayed or neutered. In this economy a lot of people may not be able to afford that additional $300 plus. They might just tell the shelter to keep the dog. Now that’s another dog ripped from his home to either be adopted or killed.
This bill is just about punishing people and killing dogs. Nothing more. As dog trainers we know that rewards work far better than punishment. Too bad the backers of this bill are still in the jerk and choke era of training. Punishment builds resentment and fear. Rewards build cooperation and confidence. In both dogs and people.