California Senate Bill 621 has been amended to include a $250 annual permit for anyone who has sold, transferred, or given away “one or more dogs during the preceding calendar year” or sold a puppy or kitten received from a third party as a stud fee. The bill, which had been in hiatus since early summer, is sponsored by Senator Herschel Rosenthal and is backed by the Animal Issues Movement, a prime supporter of the Los Angeles “Spay or Pay” proposal.
Under this bill, breeders must provide a street address and stationary telephone number on the permit application. Beepers and post office boxes are unacceptable as the sole means of identification. Breeders must also apply for a seller's permit from the Board of Equalization and pay sales taxes on their sales.
Occasional breeders — those who breed no more often than once every 36 months — can get a temporary seller's permit. All applications for seller's permits must include the breeder permit number.
Breeder permits must be listed in all advertising for sale, trade, or transfer of puppies, including ad in newspapers, magazines, flyers, newsletters, electronic media, the Internet, and the posting of signs. Any information given to publications is considered public even if it is not printed.
The sale, trade, or transfer of puppies or dogs in public places is prohibited, except that shelters may continue to operate off-site adoption programs.
Dog breeders must notify the State Department of Consumer Affairs and the State Board of Equalization when they sell a dog.
The Animal Issues Movement of Los Angeles is organizing a support campaign for SB 621 to achieve “a reduction in euthanasia of loving, gentle animals due largely to the attitude of disposability garnered from an unending steam of puppies.”
In a letter to potential supporters, AIM asserts that “The AKC understands this problem and states in its 1991 publication 'Should I Breed Any Dog' . . . 'he (your neutered male dog) won't contribute to the already burgeoning population of homeless puppies — something we should all be ashamed of.'”
The AKC brochure is actually titled “Should I breed My Dog?” and is an education piece about the serious responsibility of breeding dogs and the health and behavior advantages of sterilization surgery. The reference to the use of neutering as a population control measure is confined to a single sentence: “And just as important, he won't contribute to a population of homeless puppies!”
AIM also claims that the state loses more than $100 million per year because breeders do not pay sales tax on puppy and dog sales and more millions of dollars because breeders often do not report their income.“Most hobbyist (backyard) breeders, many who have pedigree papers for their dogs, make no effort to determine, or do not care, that the dog being bred may carry inferior health characteristics or dangerous behavioral propensities,” wrote AIM co-director Phyllis Daugherty in an indictment of home breeding of dogs." . . . The unfortunate negative changes being experienced in the health ad soundness of companion dogs is not accidental.”
Daugherty said that passage of the bill will impact the deliberate breeding of “mean” animals for crime and protection and the raising of dogs for fighting.
“Our objective in this 'no-kill' bill, and our obligation as a humane community, is to bring into balance the number of animals bred to the number of homes available.”
Although shelter populations in different parts of the country differ in percentages of purebred dogs and puppies, there is much evidence that the majority of dogs in shelters are mixed breeds and that the bulk of shelter dogs are between six months and three years of age. Statistics published by the Center for Animals and Public Policy at Tufts University School of Veterinary Medicine indicate that about 44 percent of dogs are surrendered by their owners, many of them because they require more training or care than the owners are willing to put forth. In addition, the Tufts research shows that the number of puppies born each year roughly equals the number of dogs that die in shelters, veterinary clinics, homes, and on the highways combined.
According to Gary Patronek, VMD, PhD, acting director of CAPP, shelters in some areas of the country cannot satisfy the demand for puppies and are importing them from shelters in areas where there is a surplus. Patronek has conducted studies in several shelters and has surveyed former pet owners who surrendered their dogs.
According to the California Department of Health Services Rabies Control Activities 1995 report, 45,057 (37 percent) of the 120,011 dogs entering Los Angeles County shelters that year were surrendered by their owners. Some were undoubtedly surrendered for euthanasia because of old age, injury, or illness, but if Patronek's studies present an accurate picture of dog population dynamics, the majority probably lost their homes because their owners did not or could not spend the time and energy to socialize or train their pets.
In fact, Patronek told an audience of purebred dog rescuers in Ann Arbor, Michigan, in September, if we continue to push spay and neuter laws as the answer to a problem he categorizes as “the disease of euthanasia,” not “pet overpopulation,” there may not be enough puppies to satisfy future demand.“We're almost a victim of our own success in getting the message out about spay and neuter,” Patronek said. “We may be facing a problem in animal welfare community that no one anticipated. People want animals. If we don't want people to get animals from sources we think are inhumane, we should make sure they can get animals from sources we approve of.”