Sunday, July 22, 2007

CA AB1634 Update & Suggestions

Forward permission granted.

As everyone probably already knows-- AB 1634 was pulled by Lloyd Levine. For all accounts, this bill is dead for 2007. This is where we can celebrate. Although Levine pulled this bill, it should be of no surprise that the reason it was pulled was because he did not have the votes. Essentially (although not officially and therefore not as gratifying), the Local Government Committee did "kill" the bill. Even if they had voted, Levine always could have reintroduced it in 2008 so rather than having his bill completely trashed, he wanted to "save face" and pulled it.

Anyone listening to the testimony could see that Levine was trying, up until the last four minutes to see if he could pass it on to the next level with the promise of amendments. Unlike in the Assembly, the promises did not work. He was told that they needed to see his amendments before they took action and they were not going to accept "fly by the seat of your pants" amendments made up in 30 seconds. Levine now has the next six months to either 1) amend the current bill keeping much of the current language, 2) gut it and basically reintroduce a new bill, or 3) let it die completely. He is not required to bring it back in January (but something tells me he will).

Today we celebrate. Tomorrow we fight.

Gone are the days when we as animal fanciers can just live our lives and hope that no one notices. We have seen that our passion and advocation is being attacked and we are being noticed. Yes-- we will be working on proactive legislation (that is already in the works). But we also need to become more visible in our communities- - as the experts and professionals. There are a number of action items that need to happen in the next few months:

1. We need to participate in the AKC Responsible Owner Day. Call your various breed clubs, training clubs, kennel clubs and organize something. Find a city park, get the necessary permits, set up booths, run a CGC. Even have your local animal control participate- - have them bring information for the public. Contact AKC for their packets and ROD materials. Then call the newspapers, invite the city councils and county supervisors. Let them see what RESPONSIBLE DOG OWNERSHIP is all about.

2. Maintain the connections you have made with your assemblymember and senators. If you do a ROD event, send the news clipping to your legislators. Invite these elected officials to your dog shows. Let them know about your agility trials and obedience trials. Ask them to present the Best in Show trophy. If they can't make it, extend the invitation to their Chief of Staff.

3. Money does need to be raised to continue the war because this is only one battle (a major one) but there will be others and not just in California. The idea of providing a voluntary donation on your entry forms (rather than increasing entry fees) was suggested today. There are many groups including NAIA, CDOC, AKC, and PetPAC that accept contributions and have worked hard to fight AB 1634. In the testimony today, all four of these groups were represented: NAIA brought in Angie Niles who did an excellent job on the statistical errors. CDOC brought in Dr. Hamil who made the wonderful points about the misconceptions of mandatory spay/neuter ordinances as well as the effects of surgical sterilization. Bill Hemby spoke on behalf of PetPAC and addressed the law enforcement dogs while other speaker (sorry I didn't get his name) addressed the issues relating to stock dogs. And the AKC spoke about the ever changing acceptance of various breeds and the fact that Californians already pay double the license fees. And of course, there was Joan Miller from CFA who represented the cats but spoke facts that all of us-- dog and cat alike-- face in terms of breeding programs. Donate what you can to the organization (s) but the contributions need to continue.

4. Get your club members active. I know that representatives from CDOC will go to club meetings and talk about legislative matters. There is a legislative seminar happening in Lompoc on July 28. Get someone from your club to go.5. Be aware of city council and county supervisor meetings in your local area. Find out where agendas are posted and keep an eye out for local ordinance proposals. Take what we learned here and fight. Remember that it is important that we show up at these meetings... no matter how tired we are. We must be a presence.

I know that Patti Strand (NAIA) and Cathie Turner (CDOC) will probably add to the action items that need to happen, but I wanted to get something out this afternoon.

Everyone should be very proud of how we, as an animal fanciers community pulled together even when Levine tried to divide and split us. We are a voice for Sacramento and the lessons we have learned over the last few months will push us forward and hopefully help others in various parts of the country.

Now, I have to finish some course reviews for an agility trial I am judging this weekend. Again-- thank you to everyone!!!

Laura Finco

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