SB 250 has been amended one more time. You can read our analysis of the previous versions of the bill if you want to follow along. There are only two substantive changes: bird dogs are now included in the meaningless “hunting dog exemption”, and your local government can charge you a fee if they deny or revoke your intact license. Yes, that’s right. Your local government not only can revoke your intact licenses, they can make money in the process.
There is some language that purports to exempt hunting dogs some of the time. If you have a hunting license and you are using your dog to legally hunt mammals or birds, your dog cannot be considered running at large under section (f) [was section (e) in the previous version]. This does not cover most working dogs. It doesn’t cover hunting dogs when they are training, at home, or when doing anything else. What is so special about hunting dogs while actually in the act of hunting that makes it necessary to exempt them in this special way? We know a fair bit about hunting dogs and we can’t think of a thing. If this bill is bad for those dogs (and it is) then it is equally bad for many other dogs like hunting dogs in training, search and rescue dogs, police dogs, bomb detection dogs, ranch and farm dogs, guide dogs, service dogs, performance dogs, etc.
Save Our Dogs opposes forced sterilization of dogs. We speak from the perspective of working dogs but we do not seek and will not support exemptions for working dogs. Exemptions do not work.
The hunting dog “exemption” in SB 250 is in practice meaningless because you are still subject to having your intact permits revoked. A dog running at large is a violation of various local animal control laws. The “exemption” only applies to section (f)(1)(A) of SB 250. It does not apply to local leash laws. Say you are out hunting with your dog. Through a combination of circumstances your dog is picked up for running at large. Section (f)(1)(A) doesn’t exempt you from the local leash law so you are found guilty. You have violated a local animal control law so your local animal control agency revokes your intact permits under section (b)(2) of SB 250 and you must surgically sterilize your dogs. Yes, SB 250 is so badly written that the only exemption specified is contradicted by another section of the bill.
Section (b), the core provisions of the bill, is unchanged. Violate an animal control law even once and you may never be allowed to own an intact dog ever again. One violation and your intact licenses can be denied or revoked at any time, forever. No one can have intact dogs under those conditions. Suppose your county unknowingly hires a PETA member as head of animal control. In an effort to balance the budget, this person revokes and denies all intact licenses, including yours, generating millions of dollars in fines. He/She is fired six months later but it’s too late, your dogs have already been surgically sterilized. It’s not possible to reattach the parts even if they decide to give you back your licenses.
This will cost local jurisdictions money. Say you get a citation for some minor animal control infraction. No longer can you just pay the ticket. You have to fight tooth and nail every step of the way to preserve your future right to own intact dogs. If you lose you either get out of dogs or leave the state. Instead of getting a check for $50 in the mail, the county will have to hold a hearing, and maybe an appeal hearing, go to court, etc. In the end the county will pay thousands in staff costs to collect one $50 fine. It’s only $50 to the county, but it is your life with your dogs to you so you’ll do whatever it takes.
The new fees for having intact licenses denied or revoked almost seem designed to drive dog owners underground. The state has a poor licensing compliance rate already, 10-30% compared to over 90% in Calgary. If you apply for a license and it is denied, you can be charged an additional fee for having the license denied. Maybe the local agency doesn’t charge such a fee now, but they may when it is time for renewal. Just one more thing to drive people away. And of course what will they do if you don’t pay the fee? Impound and kill your dogs, of course. You can’t even sell your dogs or give them away. You have to have a intact license to do that.
All these new fees and punishments will be enforced with the threat of impounding your dog. Any law that impounds owned dogs or increases the cost of redeeming impounded dogs will kill dogs. Most owned dogs that are forcibly impounded are ultimately killed. Taking dogs from their owners is usually a death sentence. Increasing the costs to redeem a dog, especially with an 11% statewide unemployment rate, will kill dogs. Before they are killed, the impounded dogs will sit in the shelter for the state mandated waiting period. The state is required by the existing Hayden Act reimbursement mandate to pay local governments for this cost. The state already pays over $20 million a year for this reimbursement. How many more fire fighters, police officers, teachers, and nurses will have to be laid off to cover the addition reimbursement the state will have to pay out if SB 250 passes?
We fail to see the point of this bill. There is no action that is currently legal that SB 250 makes illegal. All it appears to accomplish is give local animal control the power to forcibly spay/neuter as many dogs as possible. What it does do is make responsible pet owners afraid of their local animal control agency. This will reduce licensing compliance and licensing fee income. It will increase the cost of enforcement. Fewer dogs will be adopted because the public will avoid contact with the shelters. More dogs will be impounded. More dogs will be killed.
SB 250, The Pet Owner Punishment Act, just kills dogs.