CA MS/N Legislation SB 250

SB250 as amended August 31, 2009

The latest amendments are up. The most significant thing about these amendments is that they require the bill to go back to the Senate. Prior to these amendments, the bill only needed to pass in the Assembly before going to the Governor’s desk.

There are some minor changes, but nothing that makes the bill any better. Save Our Dogs opposes this latest version.

What is important however, is that this version contains language that purports to exempt a few classes of working dogs. As we have written before, exemptions for working dogs do not protect those dogs. This is no exception.

(l)  Nothing in this section shall apply to any of the following,
provided the subject dog is licensed pursuant to Section 30801,
Section 121690 of the Health and Safety Code, or as required by
the local licensing agency:

(2) Any owner or breeder of a dog used in the business of
cultivating agricultural products.

This “exemption” was added specifically to cover insect detection dogs used to detect insect pests in vineyards. Let us consider the hypothetical case of an insect detection dog, Rita.

This is a new-ish use for dogs, so although Rita is the most experienced dog in the State, she is just two years old. She is intact and her owner/handler plans on breeding her someday, but this has nothing to do with Rita’s ability to do her job. This exemption covers Rita. But what about Rita’s parents?

Neither of Rita’s parents were insect detection dogs. Nor were they police dogs, service dogs, hunting dogs or any of the other “exempt” categories. Nor are the owners of Rita’s parents involved in any of the special businesses that would qualify them for exemptions. So Rita’s parents would suffer the full weight of the law. And if either of them had been spayed/neutered then Rita would never have been born. The exemption does not protect Rita.

Let us suppose, though that Rita’s father, Rex, was owned by a police dog trainer. Under another section, Rex would be exempt when he was bred to Rita’s mother. But Rex was purchased at 18 months of age from a private individual. Rex’s first owner bought him as a pet, but then discovered that Rex was too much dog and found a place where Rex could do what he was born to do. But for the first 18 months of his life Rex was not owned by a police dog trainer and so was not exempt. If Rex’s first owner had neutered him at 6 months old as the law requires, then there would be no Rita and insects would overrun the California vineyards.

The problem with the specific exemption language in this version of SB250, and with all attempts to exempt working dogs, is that there is no bright line between the parents of working dogs and pets. Further this law requires that this non-existent bright line be drawn when the dog is 6 months old. It is simply impossible to protect the breeding stock for future working dogs without exempting all dogs. It is only when the dogs are five and eight years old and their offspring are working that you can say, “this dog is breeding stock for working dogs”, These laws require that the dog be identified at six months and that is impossible.

The only thing that this language does is perhaps mislead some people into believing that police dogs, service dogs, herding dogs and others are protected. We need to do everything in our power to explain that these so-called exemptions do nothing. Please contact your representative and explain this to them. All California working dogs need your help.