Assembly Bill 1634, the so-called California Healthy Pets Act, was recently passed by a California Assembly Committee. This is the first step in the process of the bill becoming a state-wide law, and while Lloyd Levine (the Van Nuys representative who proposed the bill) undoubtedly counts the event as a victory, it is no less a threat to the animal community.

Don’t get me wrong—spaying and neutering your pets is a good thing. The practice decreases the number of unwanted animals that we must euthanize in shelters. I just don’t know if mandatory alteration of all pets that are not either a pure-bred competition animal who has competed in the last two years, or a service or law enforcement dog (who has ever heard of a service or law-enforcement cat?) is the way to go.

The bill basically states that pet owners must alter any cat or dog over the age of four months, unless the pet can obtain an “intact permit.” If a pet owner is caught with an unaltered animal, they have 30 days to spay or neuter the animal, or pay a $500 fine. A veterinarian certification that an animal is not healthy enough to withstand the surgery will delay the deadline for 75 days.

The main problem with this act, in my opinion, is that it openly discriminates against mix breed dogs and cats. Due to the intentional wording of AB 1634, even if a mix breed dog is able to earn a obedience, sporting, or other title, it cannot receive an intact permit.
The Assembly Committee that passed the act is well aware of the controversy that this detail might cause—a news release sent out by the committee announcing the bill’s passing neglects to mention the prejudice towards purebred animals. The news release states that “the bill contains 20 common sense exceptions for…show dogs, sporting dogs, purebred dogs…and pets that have won titles for conformation, obedience, agility, carting, protection, rally, working or herding competitions.” Sounds pretty lenient, doesn’t it? What the news release neglects to mention (and even attempts to hide by listing all these categories as separate) is that these show dogs, sporting dogs, or pets that have won titles must also be purebred in order to obtain a permit.

Whatever happened to belief in the value of all life? Scientifically, mix breeds are more likely to be healthier, hardier dogs, due to the larger gene pool available to them. Purebreds are often associated with medical conditions such as atopy (allergic reactions to inhaled substances, i.e. pollen), seizures, and hip dysplasia. Mixed-breed dogs can have these conditions too, but it is less likely. Furthermore, all purebred dogs were once mixed breeds which were then bred together to obtain a certain look or temperament.

What happens in California inevitably affects the rest of the country, and to date, California has a good record of progressive legislature. For example, they were one of the first states to pass women’s suffrage, which subsequently spread quickly to the rest of the country. One day soon, the California Healthy Pets Act may be the United States Healthy Pets Act, and on that day the mandatory sterilization (and slow eradication) of all mixed-breed dogs, whether or not they are able to compete at the level of purebred dogs, will begin.

Sources:
http://www.cahealthypets.com/pdf/April-24-07-assemblyPR.pdf

http://www.badrap.org/rescue/ab1634amended.pdf

Interested readers can email Jennifer Tseng at starkrain24@gmail.com .

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