California Senate Bill 250, also known as the Pet Responsibility Act, is set for a hearing April 15 in the Senate Local Government Committee.
State Sen. Dean Florez, D-Shafter, introduced SB250 in February as a step toward reducing pet overpopulation. SB250 follows a similar bill, AB1634, which failed to exit the Senate in August 2008.
Specifically, SB250 requires that dogs 6 months or older be spayed or neutered unless the owner obtains an unaltered-dog license or provides a certificate of sterility, and cats 6 months or older be spayed or neutered if the owner allows the animal to roam outdoors. Animals may be exempt if they are likely to suffer harm from the surgery because of age or illness.
The bill also states that if a dog or cat is transferred or sold, the license number must be documented for the new owner.
An owner could be penalized only if the animal is cited for another reason, such as no current canine rabies vaccination, a leash law violation or a tethering violation. These owners would be required to have the animal spayed or neutered.
In addition, the bill states that impounded animals not in compliance with the law must be spayed or neutered by the shelter or a private veterinarian to secure their release.
Bill sponsor Judie Mancuso, founder of the nonprofit group Social Compassion in Legislation, said SB250 would reduce euthanasia rates and save state tax money. More than $250 million is spent housing and euthanizing homeless dogs and cats in California, according to the bill's supporters.
PetPAC, a group that helped defeat the previous bill, maintains that SB250 would mean fewer dog licenses, cost the taxpayers millions of dollars in increased shelter and enforcement costs, and cause more dogs to be euthanized.
The American Kennel Club and Alley Cat Allies also oppose the bill.
SB250 will be heard at 11 a.m. in Room 112 at the Capitol in Sacramento.