Earlier this month, members of the California State Assembly voted 41-38 to outlaw the existence of mixed-breed dogs and cats in the Golden State.
According to a PetPac:
Assembly Bill 1634, authored by Los Angeles Assemblyman Lloyd Levine, will allow only select purebred dogs and cats to breed. Pet owners who don't sterilize their mixed breed pets by four months of age will face a $500 fine and possible criminal penalties.
This is what Reason blogger Ronald Bailey refers to as the outlawing of pet "miscegenation." I'm not sure if he's being tongue-in-cheek, but even so he's uninformed. I'm immediately suspicious of a claim that a bill is intended to outlaw "mixed breed" animals, so I decided to follow the links for myself and see what they're talking about. So I visited PetPac.com and immediately noticed the hyperbolic language in opposition to this bill: "AB 1634 kills pets", or referring to the bill as the "Pet Extinction Act", and so on. So I decided to read up on the bill a little bit myself, and I discover that what the bill that Mr. Bailey refers to as "ridiculously draconian" actually requires that anyone who owns a pet must spay/neuter their pet by the time it's four months old, unless they are granted a special permit as a breeder. Fees that are collected as a result of violations would be used entirely to implement the program, fund educational programs related to the act and fund low-cost spay and neuter programs, and even those fees will be waived after the fact if the pet owner provides proof that their animals has since been spayed or neutered.
It would appear that a dogmatic libertarian such as Mr. Bailey would prefer that government have little to no say in how animals are bred in this country. To him, any such legislation would be "draconian" merely because it would attempt to prevent people from allowing their animals to produce offspring that end up on the street, abused or mistreated at the hands of their owners, or euthanized. I suppose it's a matter of priorities, but according to this article 500,000 strays are euthanized each year in California at a cost of about $300 million, most of which is paid for by the taxpayers as many irresponsible pet owners simply dump their pets off at the pound or out on the street, to later be captured by animal control and then euthanized. The article also points out that the legislation is supported by many animals shelters who, it is presumed, might have the best interests of their charges at heart. So exactly why is PetPac against his legislation? Well, here's a partial list of who's signed up with PetPac to oppose the bill as compiled by an "independent" website that I suspect has fairly close links to PetPac:
- American Dog Breeders Assn.
- Barbary Coast Bull Terrier Club
- City of Angeles Pomeranian Club
- Gordon Setter Club of America
- American Brittany Club of America
- Poodle Club of Central California
As for PetPac themselves, they are at best of dubious provenance. The group appears to be the creation of a political consulting firm Moran & Associates, and it didn't take me long to find a website that takes aim at PetPac and some of their more hyperbolic claims, as well as the man who spearheads PetPac, a hired political consultant.
So who's supporting this bill? Well, from the bill's "official" website, it appears that anybody who might have the interest of either animals or taxpayers at heart is behind AB 1634, including:
- The State Humane Association of California
- The California Veteranary Medical Assn.
- The California Animal Control Directors' Assn.
- The Humane Society of the United States
- The Animal Legal Defense Fund
- The Hope Animal Foundation