Fanciers Fight to Keep Preemptive Breed-Specific Clause
Last week, the California Assembly Local Government Committee voted
4 to 3 in favor of a repeal of California’s current prohibition on breed-specific local ordinances.
The bill, SB 861 by Senator Jackie Speier, will now
proceed to the Assembly floor for a vote.
The amended version of SB 861 will allow local governments to pass
breed-specific ordinances that require mandatory spay/neuter of certain
breeds and/or impose breeding restrictions on the owners of these breeds.
Though the author claims that this bill will not allow communities to
ban specific breeds, these regulations amount to a de facto breed ban.
If allowed to pass, such legislation would have a direct negative impact
on fanciers and breeders in California. Any breed could be targeted
under this proposal, so all purebred dog owners need to heed
the call and join the opposition efforts.
Despite the short notice about the hearing, the Assembly Local Government
Committee did receive opposition from many groups including the AKC,
the California Veterinary Medical Association, the Sacramento Council
of Dog Clubs, The Animal Council, and many individuals. Concerned dog
owners who attended the hearing waited over three hours for the opportunity
to speak. In fact, only two organizations were listed in support of
the bill?the California League of Cities and the City of Concord?although
the bill has since been endorsed by the City of San Jose. SB 861 was
introduced by Senator Speier at the request of San Francisco Mayor Gavin
Newsom in the wake of a tragic dog attack.
Several animal rights organizations opposed the initial version of
SB 861, which would have allowed local governments to enact any type
of breed-specific legislation, but they accepted the amendments to limit
options to mandatory spay/neuter and/or breeding restrictions and are
now supporting the measure.
As most Legislative Liaisons know, enactment of breed-specific and mandatory
spay/neuter ordinances fails to address the heart of the problem?irresponsible
ownership. If certain breeds are restricted, owners who choose to be
irresponsible with their animals—allow them to run loose, train
them to be aggressive, etc—will simply select new breeds to handle irresponsibly.
Stringent enforcement of generic dangerous dog laws that affect all
breeds and all owners is what will help keep communities safe.
Effective enforcement of leash laws and increased public education
efforts can prevent tragedies from occurring. Specifically, public education
campaigns can help teach community residents how to properly care for
their pets and how to be responsible pet owners. The AKC has materials
available to promote responsible dog ownership and to teach children
safe ways to behave around dogs.
What You Can Do:
- Fanciers should contact their local Assemblyman and State Senator
and ask him or her to oppose SB 861. To find out who represents you
in the California legislature, click
here. It is critical that legislators hear from their own constituents!
- Contact Senator Speier’s office and ask her to withdraw the
The Honorable Jackie Speier
Sacramento, CA 95814
Phone: 916-651-4008, Fax 916-327-2186
- If you need help writing your opposition letter, please refer to
the following talking points. Click here