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Alabama Spay/Neuter Bill Introduced

(Thursday, April 02, 2009)

Alabama Senator Del Marsh of Anniston has introduced Senate Bill 554, which would, among other provisions, require the sterilization of all privately-owned dogs six months of age or older. The American Kennel Club opposes SB 554, and strongly urges all responsible dog breeders and owners in Alabama to contact their elected representatives, bill sponsor Senator Marsh, and the members of the Senate Judiciary Committee, and respectfully yet strongly let them know that you oppose SB 554, and urge them to do the same.

The American Kennel Club opposes the concept of breeding permits, breeding bans, or mandatory spay/neuter of purebred dogs. Instead, we support reasonable and enforceable laws that protect the health and welfare of purebred dogs and do not restrict the rights of breeders and owners who take their responsibility seriously. However, the American Kennel Club recognizes the special obligation of dog owners, not only to their pets but also to their neighbors. The AKC supports "curbing" and clean-up ordinances, leash laws, nuisance laws, and other reasonable regulations designed to ensure that dogs and their owners remain respected members of their communities.

If enacted, SB 554 will:

  • Require all dogs six months of age and older to be spayed or neutered.
  • Provide that an owner of an unsterilized dog six months of age or older that is the subject of a complaint may be cited and, in addition to any fine, be forced to pay a civil penalty of $50 on the first occurrence; pay a civil penalty of $100 on the second occurrence; and on the third occurrence, require sterilization of the dog.
  • Define "complaint" as any oral or written complaint to a local animal control agency that alleges that the dog or the owner of the dog has violated this act, any other provision of state law that relates to dogs, or a local animal control ordinance. "Complaint" also means that observation by an employee or officer of a local animal control agency of behavior by a dog or the owner of a dog that violates this act, any other provision of state law that relate[s] to dogs or cats, or a local animal control ordinance. "Complaint" shall not include an allegation of excessive noise or barking.

The measure also would exempt owners of dogs from the act, if:

    • Their dog is a breed approved by and is registered with a recognized registry or association, and the dog is actively used to show or compete and has competed in at least one show or sporting competition hosted by or under the approval of the recognized registry or association within the last two years;
    • Their dog is being trained or groomed to show or compete and is too young to have yet competed;
    • Their dog has earned or is in the process of earning a special title, such as agility or herding;
    • Their dog is trained or in training for use in law enforcement, military, or rescue activities; or
    • By letter from a licensed veterinarian, their dog has been certified to be temporarily or permanently deferred due to age or heath or any other valid reason.

The AKC does not believe that these exemptions adequately address the underlying issue of responsible dog ownership or the right of responsible breeders to maintain an unaltered dog for the purpose of breeding.

As introduced, SB 554 is a substantive copy of a version of California Assembly Bill 1634 that responsible dog breeders and owners in California successfully opposed in 2008. As such, SB 554 is not designed as a solution for any animal control issues for Alabama. Additionally, because SB 554 provides the authority to issue a citation for an unaltered dog (or cat) that is the subject of a complaint (other than for excessive noise or barking) and which includes the consequence of owners being required to sterilize their dog, the bill does not clearly provide animal owners with due process to protect against overzealous enforcement that may result in permanent deprivation of one’s property.

WHAT YOU CAN DO:

It is imperative that all responsible dog breeders and owners in Alabama contact their elected representatives, SB 554’s sponsor, and the members of the Senate Judiciary Committee. Respectfully yet strongly let them know that you oppose SB 554, and urge them to do the same.

  • To find your Alabama State Representative and State Senator, click here and enter your zip code+4 on the left side of the page.
  • SB 554 Sponsor - Senator Del Marsh

Alabama State House, Room 735
11 S. Union Street
Montgomery, AL 36130
PHONE: (334) 242-7877
FAX: (334) 242-8819
E-MAIL: del.marsh@alsenate.gov

  • Members of the Senate Judiciary Committee

Senator Myron C. Penn, Chairman
Alabama State House, Room 731
11 S. Union Street
Montgomery, AL 36130
PHONE: (334) 242-7868
E-MAIL: myronpenn28@hotmail.com

Senator Roger H. Bedford, Jr.
Alabama State House, Room 730-B
11 S. Union Street
Montgomery, AL 36130
PHONE: (334) 242-7862
E-MAIL: senbedford@aol.com

Senator Kim S. Benefield
Alabama State House, Room 729-C
State House
11 South Union Street
Montgomery, AL 36130
PHONE: (334) 242-7874
FAX: (334) 353-8277
E-MAIL: kbenefield@acs-isp.com

Senator Ben Brooks
Alabama State House, Room 735-A
11 South Union Street
Montgomery, AL 36130
PHONE: (334) 242-7882
E-MAIL: benbrooksiii@aol.com

Senator Vivian Davis Figures
Alabama State House, Room 732
11 S. Union Street
Montgomery, AL 36130
PHONE: (334) 242-7871
E-MAIL: vivian.figures@al-legislature.gov

Senator T.D. "Ted" Little
Alabama State House, Room 740
11 S. Union Street
Montgomery, AL 36130
PHONE: (334) 242-7865
E-MAIL: tedlittle@mindspring.com

Senator Del Marsh
Alabama State House, Room 735
11 S. Union Street
Montgomery, AL 36130
PHONE: (334) 242-7877
FAX: (334) 242-8819
E-MAIL: del.marsh@alsenate.gov

Senator Trip Pittman
Alabama State House, Room 738-B
11 S. Union Street
Montgomery AL 36130
PHONE: (334) 242-7897
E-MAIL: trip.pittman@alsenate.gov

Senator Henry "Hank" Sanders
Alabama State House, Room 730
11 S. Union Street
Montgomery, AL 36130
PHONE: (334) 242-7860
(No e-mail available)

Senator Bobby Singleton
Alabama State House, Room 732-B
11 S. Union Street
Montgomery, AL 36130
PHONE: (334) 242-7935
FAX: (334) 242-7191
E-MAIL: BSingle164@yahoo.com

Senator Rodger Mell Smitherman (President Pro Tempore)
Alabama State House, Room 722
11 S. Union Street
Montgomery, AL 36130
PHONE: (334) 242-7870
E-MAIL: rodger.smitherman@alsenate.gov

Senator Zeb Little (Senate Majority Leader)
Alabama State House, Room 721
11 S. Union Street
Montgomery, AL 36130
PHONE: (334) 242-7855
E-MAIL: zeb@zeblittlelawfirm.com

Senator Arthur Orr
Alabama State House, Suite 737
11 South Union Street
Montgomery, AL 36130-4600
PHONE: (334) 242-7800
FAX: (334) 242-8819
To e-mail Senator Orr, click here for an online form.

RESOURCES:

For tips on how to effectively communicate with legislators, please click here.

For a copy of our Disagree Diplomatically brochure, please click here.

For a sample letter of opposition to SB 554 that Alabama residents can customize, please click here.

For more information, contact AKC’s Government Relations Department at (919) 816-3720, or e-mail doglaw@akc.org; or contact the Alabama Canine Coalition at president@alabamacaninecoalition.com.