Wednesday, April 11, 2012

OPPOSE AB 1939 - puppy sales reporting and licensing

Assembly Local Government Committee
1020 N Street, Room 157
Sacramento, California 95814
916.319.3959 fax
April 6, 2012
Re: CA AB 1939 (Pan) Dog licensing: issuance: puppy licenses: OPPOSE.
Dear Committee Members,
The California Federation of Dog Clubs, founded in 1990, represents thousands of dog owners across our state. We are advocates for animal welfare, for promotion of responsible dog ownership and for protecting the rights of responsible dog owners. Among our current projects, we conduct breed identification workshops for shelter workers, we distribute a dog care and training brochure for new owners who adopt from shelters, and provide 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 support animal legislation that provides positive benefits to society.
The CFoDC is OPPOSED to AB 1939. This bill mandates reporting of pet sales to the local licensing agency by pet stores, breeders and rescues. AB 1939 also contains provisions for puppy licensing. There will be additional license levels and confusion with the puppy provisions. In addition, differential license fees based on age or reproductive status unreasonably penalize responsible owners of intact, mature animals.
Currently, most veterinarians are already required to report any dogs vaccinated for rabies to licensing authorities. The reporting requirement is duplicative, and creates another bureaucratic layer in animal control with increased costs to local governments. Additionally, 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.
Current law requires a pet owner to obtain a dog license. AB 1121 would improperly transfer responsibility to sellers. Licensing is ultimately the legal and moral responsibility of the dog owner, not the seller.
Rescue groups currently operate on limited budgets and rely on unpaid volunteers.  The burdensome recordkeeping and reporting requirements contained in AB 1939 would seriously compromise the activities of rescue organizations. Fewer animals will be rescued from local shelters, and local governments will find their animal control budget swelling as they will need to house and feed more animals for extended stays.
Only puppies who are microchipped qualify for the puppy discount license; however, microchipping is a stand-alone measure to facilitate return to owner in case of a lost dog. A license does not provide any additional benefits to the microchipped dog. Microchip information is registered with independent agencies and does not need be tracked by government. Reporting of private matters such as animal owner or microchip data will only foster further distrust of government and result in decreased compliance. 
The license fee discount is only applicable up to the age of one year. Owners in certain areas (such as  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 (currently $335 yearly per dog in the City of Los Angeles). This will cause an increase in shelter relinquishments by those with limited financial means.
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.
We urge you to reject AB 1939.
Sincerely yours,
Geneva Coats, R.N.
California Federation of Dog Clubs
Cc: Cameron Smyth, Luis A. Alejo, Steven Bradford, Nora Campos, Mike Davis, Richard S. Gordon, Ben Hueso, Steve Knight, Chris Norby.

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