California mutts are saved: pet neutering bill is put to sleep

By Vindu Goel

California mutts can breathe a little easier — the controversial bill to require spaying or neutering of all cats and dogs has been sent to doggie heaven by its author, Assemblyman Lloyd Levine, D-Van Nuys.

In a breaking news report this morning, the Mercury News said Levine realized the Senate Local Government Committee would kill the bill, AB 1634, so he has decided to withdraw it and possibly bring it back to life next year.

Let’s hope he’s smart enough to let sleeping dogs lie. While Levine’s goal of reducing the number of euthanized stray dogs and cats is a noble one, mandating spaying and neutering of millions of pets is about as wise as cross-breeding a Pomeranian and a Saint Bernard.

I analyzed the initial version of the legislation in March. Among its biggest problems: only professional breeders could keep “intact” dogs and cats, the bill did nothing to address the millions of strays and it literally banned mutts by allowing exemptions to neutering only for pure-breds.

Despite numerous amendments, the bill never got much better. In an editorial published this morning, before Levine yanked the bill, the Mercury News urged the Senate to put it down, noting that the bill still imposed too heavy a burden on pet owners. Non-breeders would face stiff fines or have to go through complicated and expensive licensing procedures to keep their pets reproductively whole.

Far more helpful, we wrote, would be a state tax of a penny or two per serving of pet food to fund low-cost or free spaying and neutering clinics for people who want to get their pets “fixed.” Cheap clinics have shown real results in places like Santa Clara County that have aggressively pushed them.

Voluntary sterilization of pets is is important. More than 400,000 dogs and cats are put to death in California every year, at a cost of more than $250 million. A single stray, unspayed cat can lead to 3,200 kittens over 12 years.

But the key word here is “voluntary.” Pet owners should have a choice