California’s “Pet Responsibility Act”

The California Legislature is once again attempting to control pet overpopulation through proposed bill SB 250 “Pet Responsibility Act” which outlines how owners must sterilize their cats/dogs.  The bill also imposes a penalty for violating these sterilization guidelines except in specified circumstances.  Under SB 250, if certain conditions occur, pet owners can apply for a license to have pets that are not sterilized or “unaltered.”

The California public does not completely accept this bill because of its controversial nature to mandate these necessary licenses.   There are also some groups who believe this bill will actually harm the pet population in California.  Groups such as Concerned Dog Owners of California and the American Kennel Club refer to SB 250 as “The Pet Persecution Act.”  They feel that if the legislature were to pass this bill, many people would not be able to keep their pets due to the increased costs that SB 250 imposes. Such costs include the neutering/spaying of pets and heavy fines on owners if their pets are not neutered.  These groups even go onto say that this bill would actually increase the amount of pets killed stating that this type of punitive legislation is destined to fail because:  “studies show the primary reasons people do not sterilize their pets are cost and lack of access to spay/neuter services. The same is true for licensing. The higher the cost the lower the rate of compliance and as a result, lower-income households with animals, those who are unaware of these laws, and truly irresponsible people will not comply in significant numbers.”

The California Department of Finance also opposes SB 250 because it will increase the costs of all existing state mandated programs regulating pet sterilization.  The Department of Finance states that “given the current economic climate, requiring the owners of dogs and cats to pay for sterilization procedures would result in more animals being abandoned or surrendered because of the owners’ inability to finance the sterilization procedure and pay additional fines.”

The California Legislature amended SB 250 on August 31, 2009, but has not yet passed the bill.  In view of all those who are opposed to the bill, there is a legitimate question as to whether SB 250 will actually help control the pet population in California or if it will end up doing more harm than good.
For more information on SB 250, visit

–Stephen Iannacone

5 Responses

  1. I call bs on the groups that say the reason people dont get their animals fixed is because of costs associated with spay/neuter and fines. I did a study of my own in Texas where I gathered $982 to give people the money to get their pets fixed. I advertised it in the paper, told all my members of the humane society, informed other humane organizations in my town I had this money set aside for this purpose. Not one single person took advantage of my offer in the 14 months I was offering it.

    The American Kennel Club is a breeding organization where dollars are the bottom line. Because they are so deep into breeders’ pockets you will never find them stand for dogs, rather the members of the group. Groups that profit from the status quo cannot be trusted and never relied on for any type of truthful dialogue.

    I have been doing this far too long to believe any “studies” that they report as it is known that they are notorious for fudging numbers to support the commercialism of breeding.

    Yes in the beginning there would be more euthanasia’s as we get the ratio of pets in responsible homes adjusted. I hate seeing any pet die but I understand the need for immediate policy change. The alternative is that we do nothing and let the problem grow bigger.

  2. I agree with you mansbestfrinds, you’re completely wright

  3. SB250, if passed in this new 2010 legislative session, will condemn more animals to death.

    EVERYWHERE forced sterilization laws like SB250 have been passed, shelter numbers go up. The people who dump animals dump them even faster when faced with stiff fines and licence fees.

    Judy Mancuso, the woman behind SB250, got a similar law passed in Los Angeles and, since it went into effect, L.A.’s shelter numbers (intake and euthanasia) have gone up by over 30%. This has also happened in Dallas, Albuquerque, Louisiville, Santa Cruz, etc., etc., etc..

    And as far as “fudging numbers” is concerned, you need to look no farther than Santa Cruz which Mancuso, Florez (SB250 sponsor), Levine (AB1634 sponsor), et al. have cited as “proof” that forced strerilization laws work to find absolutely major fudging.

    Santa Cruz only reports what it wants to report to make it look good but statiscian, Angie Niles, went deep into the figures and proved that Santa Cruz has much higher shelter intake and euthanasia rates than nearby areas with similar demographics which have NO forced sterilization law. The Santa Cruz law is an absolute failure,

    Niles’ analysis was presented to the Legislature at a hearing about AB1634 (SB250’s precursor) and helped send that counterproductive forced sterilization bill down to defeat.

    mansbestfriends, if you still have that $982, I know many people who want to put it to great use. The majority of the animals killed in our shelters are feral cats and their kittens. I foster homeless cats and kittens and continually meet people who have feral cats in their neighborhoods that need to be fixed. (BTW, these ferals do provide a great service, as cats have done for thousands of years, by controlling the rodent population in our cities.)

    I offer to lend these people my hav-a-heart traps so they can trap and neuter these animals but people can’t afford that for animals that are not theirs in this financial climate. I could get a lot of feral cats neutered with your $982.

    SB250 and AB1634 tried to demonize a lot of people who have devoted themselves to animals. I spend much of my life rescuing homeless animals but I also live with an ancient, rare breed of hound that I have devoted 40 years of my life to protecting. (Yes, I’m a breeder and I have been labeled as a “puppy mill” because I’ve bred 7 litters of these wonderful animals in 40 years, puppies that I followed for the rest of their long, happy lives. And if that makes me a “puppy mill” then, YES!, I’m a “puppy mill” and I’m damn proud of it.)

    In the last few years when the HSUS-financed avalanche of “animal rights” legislation hit us, I have had to curtail my rescue work to spend more time to protect the rare breed heritage that I’ve devoted my tife to protect which is SO DAMN UNNECESSARY! The “animal rights” crazies are so stupidily counterproductive! They alienate the people who could do the most to protect animals. Look to the people who really save animals – Bill Bruce and Nathan Winograd and all the people who have successfully implemented No Kill solutions! They don’t demonize breeders but they work with them and it pays off.

    Breeders are people who spend 24/7 with their animals because they love them.On the other hand. PETA, HSUS and all the other fanatical vegans show no love at all for animals. PETA kills almost every animal they get their hands on (7 placed out of almost 2000 taken into their shelter in 2008) and HSUS, among other things, after it tried (and succeeded) to get mucho money to “help us save Vick’s dogs” , then called loudly for all Vick’s dogs to be killed, dogs that others took in and re-habbed and even turned some into therapy animals.

    The track record of people who actually help animals shows that us breeder and pet-lover folk do much more than the “animal rights” people do. The “animal rights” people talk a good line but they have an abysmal record of making actual animals happy.

  4. I guess housing them by the millions in non kill shelters for the rest of their lives is a better solution? Thats blatantly ridiculous!

    Breeders only spend time on the puppy until its sold. Money is the concern here, not the animals. Rehabbing a pitbull is not an easy process and requires money and expertise. These resources are better spent on prevention.

    Those 7 litters, how many of them were produced, then euthanized at a cost to the taxpayer? The numbers show 1 in 4 full bred dont make it past their 1st birthday. Then one wonders how many unfixed pups did those dogs produce before they died? How many pups were produced by the 3 of 4 that lived? How many of them bred with non full bred dogs and produced the countless throwaways that flood our shelters?

    I say your business should be shut down until you pay a breeders fee that will help make up for the amount of damage you are causing to our planet, just like a business that pollutes our air should be regulated.

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