Last month in my Chairman’s Report I reported on a pending threat to purebred dog ownership in California: Assembly Bill 1634 would require the mandatory spay or neuter of dogs 4 months or older unless an intact dog permit is purchased through local authorities. Should this bill become law, I fear it could be a catalyst for other states. As the old saying goes, “As California goes, so goes the nation.”
As many of you know AB1634 passed by one vote on Wednesday in the full Assembly. Despite this recent set back, it’s important to note that this vote was not strictly along party lines. Through our continuing efforts, we were able to convince 6 Democrats to abandon their majority party to vote against this bill in this Democratic controlled body, just as we were able to convince other democrats to vote against it in the May 16th hearing when the Assembly Committee on Appropriations voted 10-to-6 in favor of the bill.
I want to sincerely thank the more than 600 dedicated fanciers who attended the Appropriations Committee hearing, all the California AKC-Affiliated Clubs and their hard-working members who have diligently been advocating against this proposed law, and all people across the country who sent letters, faxes and e-mails to California legislators.
The next step for the bill is in the State Senate where it will go through several committees and possible revisions before a vote. Should this bill pass in the Senate it would then go back to the Assembly for another vote, before it heads to the Governor. As you can see, this is going to be a long process. It took 3½ months just to pass in the Assembly. And while we have a long fight ahead of us, we are encouraged by those whose vote we have swayed to the side of reason.
It is vital now that California dog owners and breeders contact their State Senators as well as the Governor to express their opposition to this bill as it continues its journey through the California statehouse. Contact information for all California State Senators, along with sample letters and talking points to oppose this bill are available on the AKC web site at the CA Spay/Neuter Action Center at:https://www.akc.org/canine_legislation/CA_action_center.cfm.
While the sponsor of AB 1634 has amended the bill five times since its introduction, none of the amendments make this bill an acceptable piece of legislation. AKC vehemently opposes AB 1634 and will continue our strong opposition until this bill is defeated.
As you recall, I also announced last month that AKC was pursuing the possibility of starting a Political Action Committee (PAC). I am pleased to report that this endeavor is underway. In today’s political climate, having access to lawmakers is critical. Establishing a PAC will allow dog lovers, responsible owners and dedicated breeders to support what they believe in as well as give AKC another tool for battling the continuing threat of anti-dog laws in California and across the country.
In the meantime, we have received inquires from individuals and dogs clubs as to how the purebred dog community can support AKC’s efforts to combat ongoing negative canine legislation. Individuals or dog clubs can send a non-tax deductible contribution to our Canine Legislation Department. For details visit our website at: https://www.akc.org/canine_legislation/donations.cfm.
The AKC/Eukanuba National Championship is scheduled to be held in Long Beach in December 2007 & 2008. Although we have considered making Long Beach the permanent home, I have communicated to both the Mayor of Long Beach and to Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger that enactment of AB 1634 would make that impossible.
While AKC is a national organization leading the way in opposing proposed anti-dog laws, it is important for fanciers to also establish regional organizations, both statewide and locally, to oppose flawed legislation. This must be done on a continuing basis and not just when negative canine legislation is introduced. An established and adequately funded organization that is active year-round can make the biggest impact with lawmakers by communicating with them prior to damaging legislation being introduced. All clubs must now include active involvement in our legislative challenges on their agendas.
One of the pillars of our opposition to AB 1634 is that we believe the best weapon in combating irresponsible pet ownership is education. We put those words into action every day of the year through dog shows, community events, seminars, brochures and much more. Each September we have a special opportunity to demonstrate our incredible strength in numbers and to increase our ability to address issues in our local communities by participating in AKC Responsible Dog Ownership Day. Now in its fifth year, this initiative has hundreds of AKC clubs and other like-minded organizations holding free public events all over the nation. We call on all California fanciers and clubs to show solidarity by signing up to hold an event at:https://www.akc.org/clubs/rdod/index.cfm.
While the events will take place in September, we are currently enrolling clubs and will be announcing how many are scheduled to be held statewide in the coming weeks. We hope to be able to use the number of California events as a tangible example of our commitment to public education.
Demonstrating our commitment to public education is critical to defeating AB 1634. I believe we can best accomplish this by having all our “hands” on deck to demonstrate our opposition to the bill and the positive effects of public education in our local communities.