Pets Need Protection from OC Elected Officials

Increased licensing and Spay and Neuter Legislation Would Reduce Animal Deaths and Costs

By Judie Mancuso
Special to the OC Voice

Judie-MancusoIf you love dogs and cats, you are out of luck getting attention or protection for them from Orange County elected officials.

Since 2006, we have been working on statewide legislation to help curb the massive pet overpopulation problem in California. Our non-profit volunteer organization Social Compassion in Legislation (SCiL) works to help craft and lobby state legislation that will reduce pet euthanasia through increased licensing and spay and neuter.

California shelters see about one million dogs and cats coming through the front door every year, and they euthanize (kill) over 500,000 of them who were not lucky enough to be adopted or redeemed by their family. The cost to California taxpayers is a whopping $300 million dollars each year, and it is on the rise.

We receive support letters from every nook and cranny of the state for our legislation. Over 5,000 individuals and organizations have sent support letters just in the past few months for Senate Bill 250, the Pet Responsibility Act. Sponsored by SCiL and authored by Senate Majority Leader Dean Florez, the bill enacts a proven method to reduce shelter overpopulation.

Guess which area of the state has provided the most support for our bill? Right here at home, Orange County. Dogs and cats are a major part of life in the OC and pet lovers are not happy about the numbers killed in our shelters.

Even the OC Grand Jury got on board in 2008, releasing a 12 page report on spay and neuter laws. The report exposed Orange County’s animal overpopulation problem, pointing out that “animals brought to the County Shelter have less than a 50/50 chance of survival,” and that “the tragedy of euthanasia is the typical, not the occasional, situation.”

In response to our previous statewide spay and neuter bill, the Grand Jury concluded that “since all counties and most cities adopt their animal regulations from the California Codes, the proposed law would help ease Orange County’s animal overpopulation and reduce the operating cost of the County Animal Shelter.”

Animal holocaust every day.

Thousands of cats and dogs killed neadlessly every year.

You would think that after such a comprehensive report OC elected officials would wake up and take a look at spay and neuter laws, right? Nope. The OC Board of Supervisors refuses to take a position. In fact, my OC Supervisor, Pat Bates won’t even take a call or a meeting on the issue.

OC’s so-called “fiscally responsible” state representatives in the Assembly and Senate won’t go near the legislation, even though tens of millions of dollars and countless pets will be saved statewide as shelter population would be reduced.

Why not? Personally, I think for OC Republicans it is easier to talk fiscal responsibility than to walk it. They say things like “the state has no business telling people what to do with their pets,” when California is already involved to the tune of $300 million dollars each year.

There’s one more piece to the puzzle: underground pet breeding. In California today, anyone selling more than two pets per year must obtain a seller’s permit and pay sales and income tax on the profits. And, most cities require breeders to get a business and kennel license. But as you might guess, virtually no backyard pet breeders follow these laws. There are thousands of underground breeders spread across California, cheating the state out of millions of tax dollars while producing excess animals that take homes away from pets awaiting adoption. Worse still, they dump their unsold “product” in our shelters.

In Sacramento, where SB 250 recently had a hearing, over 200 backyard breeders showed up to protest the bill. They feel that our law will bring scrutiny on their activities, and give animal control a tool to locate them and force them to comply with current law.

Underground breeders have even worked themselves up into a frenzy on blogs and chat rooms, convincing themselves in a bizarre echo chamber that spay and neuter laws don’t work and are actually meant to eliminate pets forever. Never mind that in the numerous jurisdictions with similar laws, including Santa Cruz and New York City, the only thing that has been eliminated is a large percentage of unnecessary euthanasia. There is a large body of proof that spay and neuter laws are effective by helping to prevent a large percentage of the homeless pets going from being put to death.

A statewide Zogby poll taken in 2008 found that “California voters are strongly in support of a law that would enforce the spaying and neutering of pets” and “voters are three times more likely to say they would vote for a legislator who supports a spaying and neutering bill than they would be to vote against him or her”.

The same poll found that 80 percent of the public are supportive of spay and neuter laws. “Even majorities of those groups that might be considered anti-regulation…say they are in support of such legislation.”
So why do the backyard pet breeders have the ear of our Republican representatives, instead of the good pet lovers supporting these laws? It may be that on issues they feel are controversial, the Republicans stick with the status quo because it’s easier.

There are glimmers of hope. Conservative Republicans in the Laguna Hills City Council have passed a resolution in support of SB 250, joining the bi-partisan army of cities and counties across California who has officially endorsed the bill.

So although I am not the first, let me add my voice to the large chorus of Orange County voters asking our State Legislators to step up to the plate and support life saving, money saving, spay and neuter laws like SB 250. This is not a partisan issue for OC citizens, and it should not be for our elected officials.

Editor’s note: SB 250 was recently defeated, but proponents are working to bring the bill back to the California State Assembly in January, 2010

Judie Mancuso is president of Social Compassion in Legislation based in Laguna Beach
For more information about SB 250 visit www.YESonSB250.com.

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11 Responses to “Pets Need Protection from OC Elected Officials”

  1. Changing the taxation from two litters per year to two dogs per year was one of the SNEAKIEST things the CA tax department has done yet! Not a public hearing that anyone knew about, not a peep of input from anyone! Just suppose the tax board did that to everyone who sells anything in California: Sell two you’re fine, sell four or six and you must buy a license that requires you to sell TEN to break even!

    This new tax/license combination is so high it is actually an incentive to sell MORE dogs. Did anyone bother to look at that? Don’t tell the Republicans they are being fiscally irresponsible when the largely Democratic tax board does that! (By the way, I am a moderate Democrat and I respect good people in both parties)

    Lets take this “underground breeder” thing one step further. Ms Mancuso claims that her so-called underground breeders “dump their unsold “product” in our shelters.” Wrong- small breeders breed purebred dogs, the dogs in shelters that are not retrieved by their owners are not purebred.

    The mixed breed – either called border collie mix, put bull mix or recently chihuahua mix even though a current study shows these guesses are 95% incorrect – the mixed breed litters are the result of lack of owner education and lack of leash law enforcement.

    And please, lets be honest about the number of animals and dogs euthanized each year. (1) The percentage of dogs euthanized is actually decreasing year over year WITHOUT mandatory spay neuter. (2) Break out the percentage into feral cats, abandoned domestic cats, abandoned domestic dogs and other “wild” animals (such as urban raccoons & skunks) and you will see that dogs, the target of Ms Mancuso’s SB 250, are not the problem.

    Finally, the dollar game: The cost to CA of animal control has magically increased from $250 million as testified by Ms Mancuso before the State legislature as recently as August 2009, to $300 million now – based upon what? And, its not completely a State cost, each County can choose if it wants to provide animal control. Even if the dogs were removed, you still need animal control to handle all the other species -the cost will not magically go away if you spay and neuter all the dogs.

    Speaking of dollars, how much has it cost the state in terms of legislative time and overhead to entertain SB 250 last year and AB 1634 (same thing – spay and neuter all the dogs) in the two years before SB 250? How can the 2010 legislature justify spending any more money on this idea that the majority of Californians oppose? (Ms Mancuso’s money is mostly from H$U$ out of DC) .

    Its time to stop asking government to legislate responsibility – it never works anyway. Get out of the legislative spotlight and into the streets and neighborhoods (not Bev Hills) where people love their pets but just need respectful education —not elitist scolding.

  2. Mancuso could not pass Mandatory Spay Neuter laws in her own community and has been going outside of her city to promote her lies in other communities. IF she wants to see a great shelter she should look at the one up the street from where she lives. That is a model program, so is she too blind and arrogrant to look at a good program and comprehend it? Or maybe she is too impressed with herself because the politicians are listening to her and she is too blind to understand they are doing her bidding because of their own corruption by taking the money she is filling their wallets with. They don’t love the animals they want her money, the question should be where is all the money coming from? Look at the tax reports filed by the legislators in California and the amounts this unemployed woman is donating.

  3. Why does Ms. Mancuso continue to push an agenda (mandatory spay neuter) which has only proven to increase the intakes at the animal shelters, discourage owners from obtaining veterinary care for their intact pets, infringe upon the veterinarian/patient relationship, and is just such a bad idea all round. Most pet owners already spay and neuter their pets, and forcing responsible owners of intact pets underground is self defeating. Does Ms. Mancuso really hate pets and people that much? I guess so.

  4. Instead of publishing the lies, distortions, and flat out deception of Judie Mancuso, you might want to do some digging into her and her organizations illegal contributions to politicians and political campaigns. SCIL is supposedly a 501c3. You also might want to dig into where she gets her funding, HSUS albeit probably “laundered” to hide it. HSUS, in case you didn’t know, does absolutely NOTHING for animals. The biggest portion of their money goes to pass legislation all across the country that, if HSUS is successful, will ultimately do away with all contact with animals in our lives.
    The latest figures from the CA Dept. of Health, Veterinary Division is around 400,000 taken into shelters statewide (a very large percentage of which are feral cats) and about 115,000 euthanised. A far cry from Ms. Mancuso’s figures. That figure has increased somewhat due to the economic times.
    In addition, animal control is a local issue not a state issue. What transpires in Del Norte county re: animal control in no way resembles what transpires in LA county. Except for keeping track of rabies vaccination compliance, the state has no business passing yet another unfunded mandate on local government. Mandatory spay/neuter has proven to be a failed program in dozens of places around this country. Increased licensing, yes. Incentives, such as low cost/free spay/neuter services go a long way to accomplishing that goal.

  5. BleedingHeartDogLover 09. Dec, 2009 at 1:39 pm

    Mandatory Spay/Neuter is a Proven killer of Shelter Animals.
    It creates a new law whereby Animal Control can confiscate
    & take possesion of your pet and euthanize it. Mandatory
    Spay/Neuter laws increase shelter enforcement costs,
    increase shelter kills, decrease Revenue. Proven not to
    work anywhere. In LA 90% of the Animal Control costs
    are for EMPLOYEES! If you love animals say NO to
    Mandatory Spay/Neuter Laws.

  6. Mandatory spay and neuter is not a successful way to deal with the number of pets euthanized in shelters. There need to be low-cost programs for those that can’t afford the surgery for their pets. And owners should have the right to make this decision for their pets, with input from the vet. These surgeries can have complications, and animals do die. Females tend to become incontinent – a big reason why they get dumped in shelters. And there are other health disadvantages that are being found in studies, including increases in various cancers. Recent studies have stated that the retention of ovaries for human women and female dogs increases longevity. I think we will continue to see more and more health risks to spay/neuter over the next few years. Dogs need their hormones for normal development just as much as humans do. Enact and enforce control laws. Animals cannot be roaming the street both for public safety reasons, and to prevent unwanted litters. And start concentrating on programs to keep pets in their homes. Incontinence is easily controlled with meds that are fairly inexpensive. If a family can’t afford them, maybe Humane Societies should start providing them free. Bad behavior? Get a trainer/behaviorist involved. Hold special classes for dog training that are either free or affordable. Most of the pets in shelters are adults that HAD homes. It is really sad that breeding a litter or two in your home forces one to become a business. The best dogs are home-bred. Last, but not least, mandatory spay/neuter is a taking of our rights. My dog is my property, and that includes all organs and parts. There are better options out there, and they don’t deal with anyone having the power and control to force you to do anything against your will. Is this still America? I don’t recognize it anymore.

  7. Judy Mancuso is the leading proponent for sterilizing every dog and cat in California. She is the organizer behind AB1634 and SB250.The facts are that everywhere mandatory sterilization has been tried it has failed. More animals die with these laws than without and the costs are higher. Responsible pet owners do not abandon their pets, intact or sterilized. Please, Judy, find another cause. Leave my pets alone.

  8. Everyone acknowledges Mancuso’s passion for her cause. Sadly, her passion has blinded her to the fact that mandatory/spay policies simply do not work.

    In Santa Cruz, often held out as the “poster child” of MSN laws, the decline in the numbers of dogs impounded in its shelters tracked the state as whole since the law was adopted. And while the number of dogs killed in Santa Cruz’s shelters did decline, most of the improvement can be attributed to animals being transferred to other shelters outside of the jurisdiction. Clearly, these results could have been achieved without the imposition of punitive and invasive mandatory spay/neuter laws.

    Even the ASPCA, hardly and enemy to the Animal Rights movement, says in its policy statement, “the ASPCA is not aware of any credible evidence demonstrating a
    statistically significant enhancement in the reduction of shelter intake or euthanasia as a result of the
    implementation of a mandatory spay/neuter law.”

    If the current animal control establishment is failing, as suggested by Mancuso and evidenced by the number of animals killed in the system, and mandatory/spay neuter laws don’t work, what should a community do? How about the adoption of “No Kill” shelter policies. A good read in this area is “Redemption: The Myth of Pet Overpopulation and the No Kill Revolution in America” by Nathan Winograd. Winograd’s premise, as demonstrated in a mumber of communities across the U. S., is that animal control organizations can develop policies that focus on saving rather than killing animals. Interestingly, The Humane Society of the United States in a recent blog suggested that, “the shrill efforts of a few no-kill advocates [Winograd] whose work has retarded the progress of that cause by alienating so many people, especially within the sheltering community.” If “No Kill” is alienating folks in the sheltering community who are invested in the current methods, maybe it deserves a try!

  9. Judie some how got changed in 2007 the permits requirement from 2 litters a year to 2 puppies a year and now refers to any one that has one occasional litter as a business. People that show dogs and have an occasional litter are not in the business of selling puppies. Judie doesn’t get that fact. People that have well thought out planned litters who screen buyers extensively are not the reason for dogs in shelters. If Judie really got it, she would use her time and money to enforce leash laws and educate people that loose dogs cause unwanted litters and other problems. Judie just wants to make it impossible for any one to even own an animal.

  10. Actually – Judie’s actions are causing the death of MORE animals – not less. The current economic times are a problem, and many animals are paying the price.

    1. Limits – people are having to move back to their parents, move in with other family, or move in with friends. IF that domicile already is at the limit – where do the new pets go?
    2. Increased fees – make it difficult for people to afford their pets when times are tough.
    3. Mandatory castration and hysterectomy costs more money – on top of the increased fees. Besides the fact that studies prove juvenile castration/hysterectomy unhealthy.

    Look at the statistics that Judie refuses to see or read:
    1. many shelters are actually importing dogs from other shelters AND OTHER COUNTRIES.
    2. shelters are manned by uneducated workers who are UNABLE to properly identify breeds. A dog from one shelter – I saw the papers – was mis-identified as a castrated male, when it was actually a female!
    3. the numbers Judie banters around are actually feral cats in the shelter – not dogs and not previously owned. She conveniently leaves that fact out!

    Judie plays fast and lose with the statistics. Why should she have access to OUR elected officials? BECAUSE – she’s donating monies to their campaigns. Wonder where that comes from? Is she bankrolled by H$U$ – who does NOTHING to help animals???

    As a young boy asked me –
    “if all the dogs and cats are neutered, where will I get my pet from when I’m adult and what my own?”
    Answer – he won’t!!!

  11. Yet another “propaganda mill” letter from one of the BIG LIE experts, Judy Mancuso. MSN DOES NOT WORK. The stats speak for themselves, and yet she tries to warp reality once again. The FACTS are that most pet dogs are spayed/neutered, and of the percentage that are not, a very small amount of those are owned by IRRESPONSIBLE OWNERS who do not follow local leash and containment laws. That’s what needs to be enforced, not onerous anti-breeding laws as proposed by the “animal rights” industry (H$U$, SCiL, PeTA, et al). In addition, shelters and non-profit animal groups need to be held accountable for their policies and handling of dogs that come through their facilities–both in care and in optimal placement, whether through adoption (NOT sales of “rescues”) or euthanasia of those that just are dangerous or too ill to be considered for pet homes. Use Winograd’s No-Kill model as a starting point and require the sheltering industry to follow it.

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