Lessons From Dallas Spay/Neuter Mandate
Californians Could Face $50 million Unfunded Mandate
Based On Dallas Experience – MA, FL, IL & AZ Take Note
by JOHN YATES
American sporting Dog Alliance
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DALLAS, TX (July 7, 2009) – A year ago, Dallas City Council voted to enter the brave new world of a mandatory spay and neuter ordinance for dogs. That vote was based on the promise by animal rights group supporters of lower animal shelter admissions, a lower euthanasia rate, and an increase in licensing revenues to support the animal control program.
A year after the Dallas ordinance was passed, those promises have proven to be fraudulent, based on actual budget data from the Dallas Animal Control program that was obtained by the American Sporting Dog Alliance. In looking at all of the promises made in Dallas, the actual results have proven to be diametrically opposite of what City Council had hoped it was voting to do.
Now, the California Legislature is close to passing a statewide spay/neuter mandate, similar legislation is on the table in Massachusetts, and municipal ordinances are pending in Chicago and communities in Texas, Arizona, New Mexico and Florida. We ask citizens and lawmakers in those states to pay close attention to the Dallas experience.
Based on what happened in Dallas, municipal governments in California could be facing a de facto state mandate for $50 million in unplanned local spending, and their shelters would be overflowing with dogs facing a future without hope. We are making this evidence available to the California Assembly Committee on Appropriations, which has scheduled a July 15 hearing on Senate Bill 250. SB 250, which already has passed the Senate and is the closest thing possible to a statewide mandate to spay or neuter all dogs and cats.
The American Sporting Dog Alliance predicted adverse results in Dallas, based on the actual experiences of every city in America that has passed a mandatory pet sterilization ordinance. However, Dallas City Council chose to ignore the facts and fall for the hollow promises of animal rights activists, such as Robert “Skip” Trimble, the darling of People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) and the Humane Society of the United States.
A year later, the Dallas experience has proven to be a fiscal disaster, and a nightmare for anyone who loves dogs and the dogs themselves.
The Dallas experience provides reasonable evidence of what can be expected to happen in California if SB 250 is passed into law. Dallas has a population of 1.3 million people. California, at 36.8 million, is 28 times more populous than Dallas. Thus, a reasonable expectation can be obtained by multiplying the Dallas numbers by 28.
Here is a summary of what has happened in Dallas, and what is likely to happen in California, based on official Dallas budget documents:
While animal rights activists were telling City Council that a spay/neuter mandate would reduce shelter admissions, the 2008-09 city budget called for a 10-percent increase in animal shelter admissions. The budget was designed to “increase the number of animals impounded by 10% to 37,000.” Thus, if AB 250 is passed, California municipalities can reasonably expect a 10% increase in shelter admissions, and this legislation would be an unfunded state mandate to pay for these additional animals. In California, it is illegal for the state to force municipalities to accept unfounded mandates, without full reimbursement for the costs.
In the 2007-08 fiscal year, actual expenses for the animal control program were pegged at $6.4 million. The 2008-09 budget calls for spending $7.8 million, which is a $1.4 million increase, or 22-percent. Extrapolating from those numbers, Californians also might be expected to see a 22-percent cost increase to municipal government (and taxpayers), to about $39 million. That, too, would be a de facto unfunded mandate from the state.
While expenses are escalating, license sale revenues have plunged in Dallas. The fiscal year loss of pet license sales is projected to be in excess of $400,000. That means the Animal Control Department will have to take care of more animals on less money. License sales drop because people who cannot comply with the spay/neuter mandate cannot obtain a license without proof of sterilization. This has been proven in every municipality that has tried a spay/neuter mandate, and now has been proven again this year in Dallas and Los Angeles, which recently passed a similar ordinance. Based on the Dallas experience, California municipalities can expect to see a corresponding $11.2 million drop in license sales. This, too, is a de facto unfunded mandate from the state.
Here is a link for Dallas budget information: http://www.dallascityhall.com/Budget/adopted0809/CleanHealthyEnvironment.pdf <http://www.dallascityhall.com/Budget/adopted0809/CleanHealthyEnvironment.pdf> .
The American Sporting Dog Alliance is not the only organization that is projecting a large de facto unfounded mandate if SB 250 passes into law.
Our conclusion is shared by the California Department of Finance, which recently released a report on SB 250: “This bill would result in a substantial increase to the General Fund…to reimburse local government shelters’ cost to care for impounded animals. Given the current economic climate, requiring the owners of dogs and cats to pay for sterilization procedures would result in more animals being abandoned or surrendered because of the owners' inability to finance the sterilization procedure and pay additional fines.”
That means millions more healthy and adoptable animals will be euthanized at animal shelters that are already swamped by dogs and cats that had to be abandoned by their owners due to home foreclosures and job losses. When people lose their homes, pets become homeless, too. When people lose their jobs, they cannot afford to sterilize animals or even take care of them in many cases. The inevitable result is a rapid increase in abandonment and euthanasia at animal shelters.
Such is the murderous intent of the animal rights movement, which seeks to gradually eliminate animals from American life. Its immediate goal is to force people to sterilize or euthanize as many dogs and cats as possible, and SB 250 was written for this reason. Our research has clearly documented that spay/neuter mandates in Los Angeles, other California communities and elsewhere have bankrupted animal control programs and led to large-scale pet abandonment and rapid rises in shelter euthanasia rates. Our research shows a 30-percent increase in shelter euthanasia and a 20-percent increase in admission rates since the Los Angeles ordinance was passed a year ago. At the same time, the Los Angeles Animal Control Department has been devastated financially by a drastic reduction in license revenues and large increases in expenses.
The Department of Finance report to the Legislature concluded that “the Department of Finance is opposed to this measure because it would increase costs for an existing state-mandated local program, potentially create a new state mandated local program, and result in General Fund costs that are not included in the 2009-10 Budget Act. Mandatory
spay and neuter provisions have failed throughout California at the local government level.”
In California, the official unemployment rate has soared to 11.5-percent, real unemployment is estimated at 20-percent, the unemployment rate is projected to be 12.5-percent by the end of the year, home foreclosures and business failures are the highest in the nation and approach Great Depression levels, state government is facing an immediate $24.3 billion budget deficit and is paying its bills with IOU’s, and essential services are being decimated. Of the 10 U.S. cities with the highest rates of foreclosures, California has six. An estimated 200,000 jobs have been lost in California in the past year alone. Some communities already have been forced to eliminate fire protection, cut their police forces, shutter services and close schools. In addition, more than $15 billion in tax increases are being proposed, massive layoffs of state and municipal employees are planned, an energy tax alone would result in the loss of an estimated 10,000 jobs, prisoners would be dumped in the streets and most would no longer have probationary supervision, and elderly, disabled and blind people would lose $1.4 billion in state benefits, programs to help them remain in their homes, and protections that now allow them to save their homes from tax sales. The state’s future will be mortgaged by $10.3 billion in loans to keep government afloat and by the deterioration of infrastructure such as roads and bridges. California already has the highest sales and business taxes in the nation, and the second highest income taxes.
In light of California’s devastated economy and $24.3 billion budget deficit, it would be sheer fiscal insanity to pass SB 250 into law.
The statewide consequences would be inevitable and bleak. The result will be people and local governments pushed over the financial edge and into the abyss, and the highest price will be paid by millions of dogs and cats that will lose their homes and face almost certain death in overcrowded animal shelters.
Economic impacts are really impacts on people and their pets. San Francisco Chronicle Columnist Christi Keith wrote an extraordinary analysis of these impacts in the June 9, 2009, edition of the paper (http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?f=/g/a/2009/06/09/petscol060909.DTL <http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?f=/g/a/2009/06/09/petscol060909.DTL> ).
It is the best writing on mandatory spay/neuter laws we have seen in any major newspaper. “When did the party of ‘Yes, we can!’ become the party of ‘No, you'd better not’ when it comes to dogs and cats?,” Keith wrote.
Her column continues: “Under the bill, every California pet owner must obtain a license to keep a dog or cat who hasn't been sterilized, a license that can be revoked if the owner violates<http://saveourdogs.net/2009/05/29/analysis-of-sb-250-as-amended-may-28-2009/> a number of animal laws — not just big ones like animal cruelty and neglect, but little ones, like letting your dog stand next to your car in a beach parking beach without his leash on. If that happens, you can be forced to spay or neuter your pet, unless a veterinarian certifies that the animal would ‘suffer serious harm or death if surgically sterilized.’ If a pet owner can't afford that option or refuses to comply, the animals can be seized and sterilized or even killed at taxpayer expense.
Keith correctly identifies the root of the problem, and also the impact of SB 250.
“Both the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA) <http://www.aspca.org/about-us/faq/pet-statistics.html> and the Association of Pet Product Manufacturers<http://www.naiashelterproject.org/shelter_chart.cfm?shelter_id=946&%0Dstate=CA> report that nearly all family pets are already spayed or neutered — except those belonging to poor people.
“While spay/neuter rates among pets owned by middle and upper income people approach 90 percent, only 53 percent of pets owned by poor people are spayed or neutered. The majority of lower income owners say they want to alter their pets but either can't afford to pay for the surgery and/or can't get their pets to a facility that will do it.
“In many communities, no form of public or private assistance is available to defray the cost of spay and neuter surgeries, which range from less than $100 for a cat to $900 for a very large dog, depending on local veterinary rates. And for people without a car, simply transporting pets to clinics or hospitals can be nearly impossible.
“The progressive solution would be to fund free and accessible spay/neuter for people who want to alter their pets but can't afford the procedure. That's what happened in New Hampshire, which subsequently saw its shelter intake numbers plummet and its euthanasia rate drop by 75 percent. Many California communities, including San Francisco, have done the same, with similar results.”
We applaud Ms. Keith.
The American Sporting Dog Alliance is urging all California dog owners to take immediate action, before the Assembly Committee on Appropriations holds a hearing on SB 250 on July 15. It is urgent that a large number of Californians express clear opposition to SB 250, which is very close to being passed into law.
Remember that the Appropriations Committee deals mostly with financial aspects of legislation, such as the outlay of government funds.
Please phone and also email each member of the committee as soon as possible. Members of legislative committee represent all Californians, not just their own constituents. Here is contact information for all of the committee members:
Committee Members District Phone E-mail
Kevin de Leon – Chair Dem-45 (916) 319-2045 Assemblymember.deLeon@assembly.ca.gov <mailto:Assemblymember.deLeon@assembly.ca.gov>
Jim Nielsen – Vice Chair Rep-2 (916) 319-2002 Assemblymember.Nielsen@assembly.ca.gov <mailto:Assemblymember.Nielsen@assembly.ca.gov>
Tom Ammiano Dem-13 (916) 319-2013 Assemblymember.Ammiano@assembly.ca.gov <mailto:Assemblymember.Ammiano@assembly.ca.gov>
Charles M. Calderon Dem-58 (916) 319-2058 Assemblymember.Calderon@assembly.ca.gov <mailto:Assemblymember.Calderon@assembly.ca.gov>
Joe Coto Dem-23 (916) 319-2023 Assemblymember.email@example.com <mailto:Assemblymember.firstname.lastname@example.org>
Mike Davis Dem-48 (916) 319-2048 Assemblymember.Davis@assembly.ca.gov <mailto:Assemblymember.Davis@assembly.ca.gov>
Michael D. Duvall Rep-72 (916) 319-2072 Assemblymember.Duvall@assembly.ca.gov <mailto:Assemblymember.Duvall@assembly.ca.gov>
Felipe Fuentes Dem-39 (916) 319-2039 Assemblymember.email@example.com <mailto:Assemblymember.firstname.lastname@example.org>
Isadore Hall III Dem-52 (916) 319-2052 Assemblymember.Hall@assembly.ca.gov <mailto:Assemblymember.Hall@assembly.ca.gov>
Diane L. Harkey Rep-73 916) 319-2073 Assemblymember.Harkey@assembly.ca.gov <mailto:Assemblymember.Harkey@assembly.ca.gov>
Jeff Miller Rep-71 (916) 319-2071 Assemblymember.Miller@assembly.ca.gov <mailto:Assemblymember.Miller@assembly.ca.gov>
John A. Pérez Dem-46 (916) 319-2046 Assemblymember.Jo
Nancy Skinner Dem-14 (916) 319-2014 Assemblymember.Skinner@assembly.ca.gov <mailto:Assemblymember.Skinner@assembly.ca.gov>
Jose Solorio Dem-69 (916) 319-2069 Assemblymember.email@example.com <mailto:Assemblymember.firstname.lastname@example.org>
Audra Strickland Rep-37 (916) 319-2037 Assemblymember.email@example.com <mailto:Assemblymember.firstname.lastname@example.org>
Tom Torlakson Dem-11 (916) 319-2011 Assemblymember.Torlakson@assembly.ca.gov <mailto:Assemblymember.Torlakson@assembly.ca.gov>
The California Legislature is slated to adjourn on July 18 for summer recess, and SB 250 could face a vote of the full Assembly on July 17.
To read our analysis of the legislation, please visit http://eaglerock814.proboards.com/index.cgi?action=display&board=general&thread=48 <http://eaglerock814.proboards.com/index.cgi?action=display&board=general&thread=48>
To read the actual text of the legislation, go to: http://www.leginfo.ca.gov/pub/09-10/bill/sen/sb_0201-0250/sb_250_bill_20090528_amended_sen_v95.html <http://www.leginfo.ca.gov/pub/09-10/bill/sen/sb_0201-0250/sb_250_bill_20090528_amended_sen_v95.html> .
Thank you for helping California pet owners and the dogs and cats that they love.
The American Sporting Dog Alliance represents owners, breeders and professionals who work with breeds of dogs that are used for hunting. We also welcome people who work with other breeds, as legislative issues affect all of us. We are a grassroots movement working to protect the rights of dog owners, and to assure that the traditional relationships between dogs and humans maintains its rightful place in American society and life. The American Sporting Dog Alliance also needs your help so that we can continue to work to protect the rights of dog owners. Your membership, participation and support are truly essential to the success of our mission. We are funded solely by your donations in order to maintain strict independence.
Please visit us on the web at http://www.americansportingdogalliance.org <http://www.americansportingdogalliance.org/> . Our email is email@example.com <mailto:firstname.lastname@example.org> .
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