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The Senate Committee on Local Government yesterday approved SB861 and recommended concurrence by the full Senate, where the bill will soon be heard. This devastating bill is on a fast track toward becoming law—dog owners must weigh in now!

As the AKC has been reporting, SB861 will allow local governments to enact breed-specific ordinances pertaining to mandatory spay/neuter programs. Permitting cities and towns to require spaying and neutering of “potentially dangerous breeds” unfairly targets all responsible owners, regardless of whether or not their dog has ever behaved aggressively. Furthermore, because SB861 permits mandatory/spay neuter ordinances for any breed, the bill could affect thousands of purebred fanciers who participate in conformation dog shows and responsible breeding programs.

The American Kennel Club strongly supports sound, enforceable, non-discriminatory legislation designed to keep communities safe for both people and pets. We further support strong enforcement of California's current dangerous dog statute, which prohibits regulating dogs in a manner that is specific to breed. Stronger enforcement of the existing law, rather then randomly targeting certain breeds, would resolve any dangerous dog issues that exist.

Proponents claim that SB861 is necessary because “irresponsible breeding contributes to the production of defective animals that present a public safety risk.” If indeed pet population issues are a growing concern of California legislators, better solutions exist to address these concerns. Under SB861, however, responsible individuals, including purebred dog owners who bring millions of revenue dollars into the state each year, will be forced to pay the price for those who act irresponsibly and without regard for animal welfare.

What You Can Do:

  • Immediately contact your State Senator and ask him or her to oppose SB861. To find out who represents you in the California legislature, click here:
  • Contact Senate President pro Tem Don Perata and ask him to oppose SB861.
    State Capitol, Room 205
    Sacramento, CA 95814
    (916) 651-4009
    Fax (916) 327-1997
  • Contact Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger to express your strong opposition to the bill. (Letters are best as they will be included in the final bill file for presentation to the Governor.)
    Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger
    State Capitol Building
    Attn: Legislative Affairs
    Sacramento, CA 95814
    Phone: 916-445-2841
    Fax: 916-445-4633

How Passage of SB861 Could Negatively Impact California's Economy:

  • It is extremely likely that passage of SB861 would have a negative impact on the dog show world in California, much to the detriment of the state's economy. Many responsible owners keep intact animals solely for the purpose of participating in conformation events. Mandatory spay/neuter ordinances would prohibit them from doing so, resulting in a substantial decrease in dog show attendance and in the number of shows held annually throughout the state.
  • Fewer dogs (who travel with owners, handlers, vendors and families) and fewer shows will result in a huge loss of revenue for retailers, as well as a loss of tax revenue for the government on all services including hotels, airline passengers, restaurants, auto rentals, gas stations, show site rentals and catering services. Tourist and shopping dollars will be lost and sales of products related to dogs will also decrease substantially.
  • AKC sanctioned nearly 1400 events in California last year which drew hundreds of thousands of people from both within and outside of the state. Approximately 185,000 dogs were entered in those competitions, and any of those could be impacted by SB861.
  • Recent studies show that one mid-sized dog show on average supports the local community with an influx of over $665,000 per day. Furthermore, dog show exhibitors tend to stay in the area before and after the dog show, spending an average of $320 daily. AKC estimates that passage of SB861 could therefore result in a loss of millions of dollars in revenue for the state.

Other Points to Address:

  • Breed-specific laws are not the best way to protect communities. An owner intent on using his or her dogs for malicious purposes will simply be able to switch to another type of dog and continue to jeopardize public safety. The list of regulated breeds or types could grow every year without ever addressing responsible dog ownership. Deeds, not breeds, should be addressed.
  • When properly enforced, California's existing dangerous dog law forces all dog owners to be responsible regardless of the breed they own. Clear guidelines for identifying and managing dangerous dogs will promote responsible dog ownership and prevent tragedies from occurring. Simply placing restrictions on certain breeds will not improve public safety – it will only punish responsible dog owners.
  • Breed-specific laws are hard to enforce. They require expert knowledge of the individual breeds, placing great burden on local officials.
  • Breed-specific laws increase costs for the community. Shelter costs for the community could rise as citizens abandon targeted breeds and adoptable dogs of the targeted breeds could be euthanized at the shelter.
  • Some communities have had their breed-specific laws overturned on constitutional grounds. Because proper identification of what dogs would be included is difficult or impossible, the law may be deemed unconstitutionally vague.
  • Strongly enforced animal control laws (such as leash laws), generic guidelines on dealing with dangerous dogs and increased public education efforts to promote responsible dog ownership are all better ways to protect communities from dangerous animals.
  • Breed-specific legislation is opposed by the AKC, the American Veterinary Medical Association, the National Animal Control Association, the ASPCA, and a host of national animal welfare organizations that have studied the issue and recognize that targeting breeds simply does not work.

For More Information:
AKC's Canine Legislation department

Sacramento Council of Dog Clubs
Joan Gibson Reid, Corresponding Secretary
and Legislative Coordinator

The Animal Council

The Senate Committee on Local Government yesterday approved SB861 and recommended concurrence by the…