Thursday, September 1, 2011


California's Spay-Neuter License Plate Program - CA AB 610
CA AB 610, sponsored by the California Veterinary Medical Board, would lower the number of required pre-orders for specialized spay-neuter license plates. The text of the bill is based on misinformation and exaggerated claims about dog and cat populations in California. The bill wrongfully declares that a state of "emergency" exists in our state, and creates  poorly defined programs without proper oversight.
The funds from sales of these specialized license plates would be collected by the Veterinary Medical Board, and then distributed for projects and programs that support city and county animal shelters, including, but not limited to, spaying and neutering programs and adoption programs.
Currently, the bill is sitting in the Senate Transportation and Housing Committee. You can read the full text of the bill here:
In particular, we strongly object to this verbiage present in the bill:
"In six years one unspayed female dog and her offspring can reproduce 67,000 dogs. On average it costs approximately one hundred dollars ($100) to capture, house, feed, and eventually kill a homeless animal- a cost that ultimately comes out of the taxpayers' pockets. Low-cost spaying and neutering services are far below that amount. Thus, the cost of having a pregnant female dog can be much higher than the cost of spaying." 
"Each day, seven dogs and cats are born for each person born in the United States. Of those, only one in five puppies and kittens stay in their original homes for their natural lifetime. The remaining four are abandoned to the streets or end up at a shelter. As long as these birth rates exist, there will never be enough homes for all of the animals".
Please contact the California Veterinary Medical Board, your state Senator and the members of the Senate Transportation and Housing Committee to let them know that there are serious concerns with this bill. Here are some talking points for your phone calls and letters.
I am opposed to CA AB 610 for these reasons:
  • The program being set up is vague and the exact distribution of the funds collected is unspecified.  
  • AB 610 is an attempt to prop up a failing program that does not have sufficient public support to sustain itself.
  • The bill's analysis questions whether this would be, "a worthwhile investment" at the lowered threshold. It concludes, "This would net less than $75,000 in funds raised, an amount that seems hardly worth the state's effort."
  • Lowering the 7,500 paid plate applications threshold to 2,500 will net insufficient funds raised to validate the expense of the license plate startup program.
  • There are reasonable concerns that funds from the license plate program could potentially be used in support of mandatory Spay and Neuter, in addition to the voluntary S/N programs originally specified in this bill. Mandatory spay and neuter is a proven failure everywhere it has been tried.
  • The bill should specify that funds will only go to free or low-cost voluntary spaying and neutering programs, and not be allocated to mandatory spay/neuter programs.
  • There is a potential conflict of interest with a VMB member whose organization may benefit financially from these funds.
  • The proposed adoption program would build a completely new bureaucracy with unknown administrative costs. 
  • Claims about pet populations in AB 610 range from misleading to egregiously false and should certainly not be written into California law.
  • California laws should be based on verifiable facts, not on misleading, biased, and inaccurate information. There is absolutely no evidence to support the claims presented in this bill regarding costs per shelter death, the costs of spay/neuter, the number of offspring that one animal can produce, or the numbers of births of dogs and cats in the United States. These "statistics" are based on unsupported information, and derived from internet "urban legends".
  • Use of unsupported facts and figures is unbecoming of a professional organization like the Veterinary Medical Board.
  • There are approximately 4 million persons born in the U.S. each year. According to the claims of the bill, there are 7 dogs and cats born for each person born. This would mean that there must be 28 million to 35 million dogs and cats born each year. If 80 percent of those animals are "abandoned or end up at a shelter," there must be 23 million to 28 million dogs and cats entering shelters every year. Yet current national shelter intakes are estimated at 6-8 million, about four times less than the bill author claims.
  • Statistics comparing human birthrates to pet birthrates are misleading. The average lifespan of a companion animal is considerably shorter than that of a human, and each pet owner will likely have many pets during his lifetime.
  • This bill claims that an 'emergency' exists. However, there is no evidence to support that claim. Shelter numbers in California have been declining steadily for decades. Over 78% of all owned dogs and over 88% of all owned cats are already spayed or neutered (Source: American Pet Products Association 2011-2012 National Pet Owners Survey). In fact, some rescue groups import dogs from other states and even from other countries.
  • According to current shelter statistics, the actual number of live animals entering California's shelters was 768,504. This is a far cry from the "one million" figure quoted on the California Veterinary Medical Board's website. California shelter statistics for 2010 show that 11.4% of intakes, or 99,025 animals, were picked up dead or died from causes other than euthanasia. This fact is omitted from the text of the bill. Dead animals collected by animal control at the request of the public should not be reflected in shelter intake statistics for the purpose of sensationalism.
  • The bill's claim of an emergency pet "overpopulation" problem in California are false. According to Dr. John Hamil, past president of the California Veterinary Medical Association: "If the animals in the shelter were due to 'overpopulation'; we would find desirable puppies available in shelters, there would be no market for Internet and pet store puppies, there would be no need for shelters to import puppies and puppy smugglers and brokers would be out of business due to market saturation. There is, in fact, a shortage of healthy, well-bred and socialized puppies and kittens in California."
   Susan Geranen, Executive Officer
   Veterinary Medical Board
   2005 Evergreen St., Suite 2250
   Sacramento, CA 95815-3831
   Phone: 916-263-2610
   Fax:     916-263-2621
Senate Transportation and Housing Committee Members 
Mark DeSaulnier (D-7), Chair
Room 5035, Sacramento, CA 94248
Ph: 916-651-4007
Fax: 916-445-2527
District Ph:925-942-6082
Fax: 925-942-608
Ted Gaines (R-1) Vice Chair
Room 3056, Sacramento, CA 94248
Ph: 916.651-4001
Fax 916.324.2680
District Ph: 916.783-8232

Senator Tom Harmon (R-35)
State Capitol 
Room 5094
Sacramento, CA 94248
Fax: 916-445-9263
District Office Ph:714-957-4555
Senator Robert Huff (R-29)
State Capitol 
Room 5097
Sacramento, CA 94248
District Ph: 909-598-3981
Fax: 909-598-6459
Senator Christine Kehoe (D-39))
State Capitol
Room 5050
Sacramento, CA 94248
Ph: 916-651-4039
Fax: 916-327-2188
District Ph: 619-645-3133
Fax: 619-645-3144
Senator Alan Lowenthal (D-27)
State Capitol
Room 2032
Sacramento, CA 94248
Ph: 916-651-4027
Fax: 916-651-9113
District Ph: 562-495-4766
Fax: 562-495-1876
Senator Fran Pavely (D-23)
State Capitol
Room 4035
Sacramento, Ca 94248
Ph: 916-651-4023
Fax: 324-4823
District Ph: 310-314-5214
Fax: 310-314-5263
Senator Michael Rubio (D-16)
State Capitol
Room 4090
Sacramento, Ca 94248
Ph: 916-651-4016
Fax: 916-327-5989
District Ph: 559-364-3070
Fax: 559-364-6506
Senator Joe Simitian (D-11)
State Capitol
Room 2080
Sacramento, CA 94248
Ph: 916-651-4011
Fax: 916-323-4529
District Ph: 916-651-4011
Fax: 916-323-4529
District Ph: 650-688-6384
Fax: 650-688-6370
Committee Staff
Chief Consultant Carrie Cornwell
Room 2209
Ph: 916-651-4121
Fax: 916-445-2209

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