If you haven't heard, the California State Assembly has already approved a bill, AB 1634, which mandates the forced sterilization by the age of four months of all but select breeds of dogs and cats. In order to have your designated purebred pet keep its reproductive organs intact, you would have to pay a hefty fee (one site said $500) and provide evidence of your noble intent to keep the breed pure. Known euphemistically as the "California Healthy Pets Act," this legislation ought to be known as the "California Nazi Eugenics Pet Act," to go into effect April 1, 2008, pending further objections (let's hope there are lots of further objections--the bill still needs approval from the State Senate).
My entire life, my family and I have had only mutts for pets. Good ol' loveable, unpredictable, mixed-breed, hybridized, heterozygous, vigorous, mutts. My last two dogs were adopted mutts at that. I am not a pedigree person, and in my heart think that people are similar to pets, in that no one can predict which are the good genes—those worth saving—and which are the bad genes. Genes are enormously complicated, to say the least. People have bred animals for desirable characteristics ever since animal husbandry was invented, ever since domesticity first occurred. And the purebred dogs and cats of today were the mutts of long ago who were spotted by dog and cat talent scouts and then bred purposefully to keep those positive qualities. Anyone--and that means you, American Kennel Association, who thinks that purebred animals are the be-all, end-all of breeding are sorely mistaken. Purebred animals are simply a slice of the ever-evolving genetic pie. A snapshot in time. An example of what is popular NOW, not what is IT for dog and cat varieties on planet Earth. Sheesh.
To suddenly take that genetic snapshot and say, OK, this is it, no more changing around the gene pool, and that all dogs and cats who do not belong to this genetic snapshot need to be removed from the gene pool by nixing their reproductivity—the whole thing is completely bogus.
Here's what gets me about this legislation:
- How do legislators have the cojones to decide that only purebred pets are worthy ones? And, if you are willing to play along, which breeds are they, huh? Who decides this list of those-who-shall-be saved? "Experts" on dog and cat breeding?
- Doesn't this play right into the hands of puppy mill owners, who can afford to pay the permit fee—however large it may be—to keep the right to their operations? While hobby breeders, or small-time breeders will be forced to mend their ways.
- Dog and cat euthanasia would increase dramatically—if it costs significant money to get the permit, and inexpensive spay-neuter clinics are not readily available, many pet owners will give up and send their pets to animal shelters. This has proven true in the counties across the country that have adopted mandatory spay and neuter laws.
- The cost of the new legislation? Well, the burden will be on cities and counties in
and is estimated to be $1 Billion annually. Jumping Jehoshaphat, that would pay for a lot of voluntary spay-neuter clinics and incentives for pet owners and veterinarians. California
- The demand for border-crossing pets would skyrocket. How can illegal, maybe even questionably healthy pets be a good thing? Guaranteed that the black market animal industry would love this bill.
- Four months is agreed by many experts to be too young for sterilization; with problems such as "orthopedic risks, increased risk of cancer, adverse behavioral consequences, incomplete development and other health risks." Who came up with the four-month rule? The same experts who came up with the list of magic breeds? Any animal professional will tell you four months is too young.
- The working dog population would be decimated. "Police dogs, search and rescue dogs, service dogs for the blind and disabled, and working stock dogs serving
’s $6 billion livestock industry will be wiped out in one generation." And furthermore, "Under this legislation, rare breeds and working breeds would not be recognized as purebred, and would be subject to the mandatory spay and neuter law." Again, not in the approved genetic snapshot, and you get the eugenic boot. Nazis tried to do the same thing. Bad. Very bad. California
- How about putting the money instead into free and low-cost spay and neuter clinics and providing tax incentives to pet owners and vets for getting their and their patients' pets fixed? Make it easy, cheap, and accessible and give rewards. These methods work the best.
Yes, unwanted pets are a huge problem, "but his bill would punish millions of responsible pet owners while actually encouraging more irresponsibility from the minority of pet owners who are causing the problem in the first place." More euthanized animals, greater expense, more unhealthy pets, more black market pets.
Please take a few seconds to sign the petition to oppose AB 1634 in the California State Senate—before it's too late:
Oppose the California Nazi Eugenics Pet Act