Monday, September 12, 2011

Governor Brown - please VETO AB 1121 (puppy licensing/seller reporting)

The Honorable Edmund G. Brown, Jr.
Governor, State of California
State Capitol, Suite 1173
Sacramento, CA 95814
September 12, 2011
Re: CA AB 1121 (Pan) Dog licensing: issuance: puppy licenses: OPPOSE. Request for veto.
Dear Governor Brown,
The California Federation of Dog Clubs, founded in 1990, represents thousands of dog owners across our state. We are dedicated to the promotion of responsible dog ownership and to protecting the rights of responsible dog owners. Among our current projects are implementation of a breed identification workshop for shelter workers, distribution of a dog care and training brochure for new owners who adopt from a shelter, and establishment of a 1-800 help line for pet owners struggling with behavior or training problems. We also maintain and administer a relief fund for animals affected by disasters such as earthquakes or fires. We are active in support of animal legislation that provides positive benefits to society, such as CA SB 390 (LaMalfa) and CA AB 258  "Molly's Bill" (medical exemptions for rabies vaccination), for which we are a co-sponsor.
The CFoDC is OPPOSED to AB 1121. This bill mandates reporting of pet sales to the local licensing agency by pet stores, breeders and rescues. Current law already requires the pet owner to seek and obtain a dog license. AB 1121 would improperly transfer this reporting responsibility to the seller. Licensing is ultimately the legal and moral responsibility of the dog owner, not the seller. Sellers should not be required to report personal details of animal buyers to the state. This smacks of the very worst type of "snitch" culture and can only foster further distrust of government.
Rescue groups currently operate on a shoestring budget with volunteers handling the bulk of the work. The recordkeeping and reporting requirements contained in this bill are onerous for nonprofits to contend with and could have a dampering effect on continued rescue activities.
Currently, most veterinarians are already required to report any dogs vaccinated for rabies to licensing authorities. This new seller reporting requirement is duplicative, and creates another bureaucratic layer in animal control with increased additional costs to the public. Further, the provisions of the bill regarding who must report are confusing and subject to individual interpretation.
AB 1121 also contains provisions for puppy licensing for a discounted fee. Firstly, there is no justification for a puppy too young for rabies vaccination to be licensed. The sole original purpose for dog licensing was to protect public health through canine rabies vaccination enforcement. Also, there will be additional license levels and confusion with the puppy provisions.
Only puppies who are microchipped qualify for the puppy license discount; however, microchipping is a stand-alone measure to facilitate return to owner in case of a lost dog. Microchip information is registered with independent agencies and is not tracked by the state. A license does not provide any additional benefits to the microchipped dog.
The proposed discount is only applicable during the first year of life. Owners in certain areas (like heavily populated Los Angeles) will discover only too late that they will face mandatory, unnecessary and costly sterilization surgery, or else pay an exorbitant intact license fee for their dog once the puppy license expires. This will cause an increase in shelter relinquishments by those with limited financial means. It is not uncommon to find an intact license fee of 500% or more higher than the amount charged for altered dogs. Differential license fees based on age or reproductive status are punitive in nature and counterproductive to encouraging licensing compliance.
Bearing in mind that our state has the worst budget crisis in history, it seems ludicrous that we would now prioritize precious resources to implement additional bureaucratic red tape in the tracking of dogs. More money will be needed to ensure compliance; money for advertising, money for tracking and paperwork, and money for more employees needed for enforcement. This will only add to the city/county budget woes.
Reporting of private matters will only cause citizens further dissatisfaction with intrusive government, and there will be decreased compliance across the board. 
We urge you to veto AB 1121.
Sincerely yours,
Geneva Coats, R.N.
California Federation of Dog Clubs

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