CA AB 1634 Amended Again

California Assembly Bill 1634, now known as the "California Responsible Pet Ownership Act," has...

California Assembly Bill 1634, now known as the "California Responsible Pet Ownership Act," has been radically amended. The bill is now a responsible dog ownership act and addresses two major issues resulting from irresponsible dog ownership - dogs that are found roaming and dogs that are not licensed.  Existing California state law already requires all dogs to be licensed.

The previous version of the bill contained provisions which would have required an owner to spay/neuter their pet if it was the subject of three complaints. The bill defined a complaint as any written or oral allegation. AKC maintained that this wording would have pitted neighbor against neighbor by allowing dog owners to be fined on the basis of potentially unverified complaints. Further, it did not provide a process for the owner to appeal or even require that the owner be cited for the original complaint. AKC believed that this language could have been used by individuals to harass otherwise responsible dog owners. This language has now been completely deleted.

AB 1634 As Amended August 12, 2008

The new provisions in the amended AB 1634 are as follows:

Establishes fines for intact dogs that are impounded for roaming at large:

  • 1st offense - $50 fine. If the owner voluntarily elects to microchip their dog, $30 of the fine shall be waived by the local jurisdiction and the jurisdiction may waive the entire $50 fine.
  • 2nd offense - $100 fine and requirement that the dog be microchipped.
  • 3rd offense - owner must pay to have the dog spayed/neutered upon third impoundment for roaming at large.

 

Establishes fines for intact dogs that are not licensed:

  • 1st offense - $50 fine. If the owner voluntarily elects to microchip their dog, $30 of the fine shall be waived by the local jurisdiction and the jurisdiction may waive the entire $50 fine.
  • 2nd offense - $100 fine and requirement that the dog be microchipped.
  • 3rd offense - owner must pay to have the dog spayed/neutered when cited a third time for not complying with California state statute and local jurisdiction requirements that a dog be licensed.

 

The amended language further states that any dog owner who is not a resident of California shall be exempted from the requirements of the bill if the dog is temporarily in California for training, showing, or any other lawful reason.

For both the impoundment and failure to license provisions of the bill, the requirements to microchip and/or spay and neuter are not required if a veterinarian certifies that because of age, poor health or illness such procedures are not appropriate.

Based on the latest amendments the AKC has moved to a neutral position on AB 1634. The AKC Board of Directors unanimously concurred with the staff recommendation that if certain proposed amendments were included in the bill, the AKC would take a neutral position.  The AKC's lobbyist was able to obtain draft amendments that spelled out the proposed changes. A neutral position does not signify that AKC is in support of the bill or that we encourage legislators to vote in favor of the legislation. Individual legislators can weigh the merit and anticipated effectiveness of the bill and cast their vote accordingly.

The American Kennel Club has long been a driving force behind encouraging responsible dog ownership. This means that dog owners need to properly contain their dogs on their own property and comply with state and local laws that require licensing. Owners who allow their dog to habitually run at-large and be impounded and those who do not comply with existing licensing laws are behaving in an irresponsible manner.

We choose not to oppose the bill because we believe that responsible dog owners should obey local dog ordinances, such as licensing, already a law in California, and not allow their dogs to roam. AKC will not support the bill because there rightfully remain questions about the need for the legislation and whether the bill, if enacted, would increase compliance with leash law and license requirements and although we appreciate the positive changes, AKC maintains its position that spay neuter choices should be left to individual dog owners.