On Wednesday, June 21, the Kern County Animal Services Commission will reconsider a proposed ordinance concerning dog licensing for dog owners in Kern County which could lead to mandatory spay/neuter for violations of animal control laws. If advanced, the proposal would go to the Kern County Board of Supervisors for review and possible passage into law.
County residents are strongly encouraged to contact both the commission and the Kern County Board of Supervisors to express your desire for a fair and reasonable proposal that is also clear in its language to be followed properly. Scroll down for specific talking points and contact information.
After the May commission meeting, the proposal was rereferred to the Kern County Animal Services Commission’s Subcommittee for revisions, and AKC met with members and proposed amendments. The AKC thanks the members of the Commission for their efforts to better Kern County and appreciates their commitment to ensuring appropriate legislation is ultimately adopted, including their willingness to discuss amendments with AKC.
However, currently, AKC still has concerns with the proposal before the Kern County Animal Services Commission. While it is possible that amendments will be offered, no draft is yet publicly available. At this time, it is the same proposal that has been discussed in previous meetings of the Kern County Animal Services Commission.
Kern County Draft Ordinance of Animal Control Regulations
Status: Hearing to be held on Wednesday, June 21 at 6:00 PM
As currently written, the county animal control proposal would institute an increased licensing regime in Kern County with possible severe penalties for a first violation. Current law already requires an unaltered dog permit. Under the May 2023 version of this proposal, failure to license an unaltered dog could lead to mandatory spay/neuter on one violation of related animal control laws.
The proposal is confusingly drafted regarding how many violations could trigger mandatory spay/neuter penalties. AKC has concerns that owners of intact animals who have not yet purchased a license could be required to sterilize their dogs for something as simple as a gate being left open and dog getting out—on just one occasion. It is unclear how this would apply to a young puppy who is not yet old enough to be sterilized. It is also unclear if when a hobbyist has a litter of puppies if they must immediately purchase permits for every dog in the litter.
Lastly, for those who purchase an unaltered dog license, three animal control violations of any kind over a 36-month period could lead to revocation of an unaltered dog license along with mandatory spay/neuter. AKC strongly believes that responsible dog ownership includes adherence to all local laws. However, as written, it does not allow for unintended actions such as a landscaper or someone leaving a gate open one time per year and a dog briefly escapes.
In your community outreach, encourage the commission and board of supervisors to consider the following amendments being recommended by AKC:
- Clear and unambiguous language should be included for a three-step warning process for dog owners to comply with the licensing system. A dog should not be subject to mandatory spay-neuter simply because it got out of the house one time.
- For responsible dog owners attempting their best to comply with the licensing system, AKC is recommending three violations of a similar nature over a shorter period as opposed to the current proposal of three (possibly minor) violations different in nature; this would allow for greater protection to responsible dog owners while allowing for the county to address repeated violations.
- Ensure that the new licensing program adheres to veterinarian best practices concerning when to vaccinate a puppy for rabies. AKC has concerns that the current language may, effectively, require the rabies vaccination for puppies who are sold at 8 weeks of age.
Visit the Mandatory Spay/Neuter Key Issue page in the AKC Legislative Action Center for more talking points and information.
What You Can Do:
Attend the Animal Service Commission Meeting and respectfully express your opposition: The proposal is scheduled to discussed at the Kern County Animal Services Commission’s regularly scheduled monthly meeting:
Wednesday, June 21 at 6:00 PM
County Administrative Office, Third Floor Multi-Purpose Room
1115 Truxtun Avenue
Contact the commission and respectfully express your opposition to the proposal as it was considered in May 2023. Encourage them to consider the amendments being proposed by AKC: (661) 868-7100 or AnimalControlCommission@kerncounty.com
Contact the Kern County Board of Supervisors and let them know you oppose the Animal Service Commission’s proposal:
- District 1 Supervisor Phillip Peters; firstname.lastname@example.org; (661) 868-3650
- District 2 Supervisor Zack Scrivner; email@example.com; (661) 868-3660
- District 3 Supervisor Jeff Flores; firstname.lastname@example.org; (661) 868-3670
- District 4 Supervisor David Couch; email@example.com; (661) 868-3680
- District 5 Supervisor Leticia Perez; firstname.lastname@example.org; (661) 868-3690
AKC Government Relations continues to monitor proposals in California impacting dog owners and will provide updates. For questions or more information, contact AKC GR at email@example.com.