New California law is amended version of bill vetoed in 2006
SACRAMENTO–California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger on October 14, 2007 endorsed into law a new set of regulations for pet stores.
As with other legislation adopted in the most populous U.S. state, the new regulations may become the default standard for the pet industry throughout the U.S.
Whether that would be good remains a subject of bitter debate among California animal advocates.
The new law, introduced as AB 1347 by Assembly member Anna Caballero, somewhat parallels a bill promoted by the Animal Protection Institute that Schwarzenegger vetoed in 2006.
Would have protected industry but not animals
Said the API victory announcement, “AB 1347 was brought forth by Petco and the Pet Industry Joint Advisory Council as a result of API’s sponsored legislation introduced in 2006. The original language in AB 1347 would have protected the pet industry, but
failed to protect animals in custody of the industry. API and other animal protection advocates invested considerable effort in helping to transform AB 1347 into legislation that actually elevates the standards of care for pet shop animals.”
Even in final amended form, however, the new regulations were opposed as an alleged roll-back of existing protections by Sherry DeBoer of Political Animals and Virginia Handley of Animal Switchboard, who helped to lobby through the previous California pet store regulations, the Farr-Polanco-Lockyer Pet Protection Act of 1992.
Police associations opposed bill
Schwarzenegger signed the new regulations into law despite veto requests from Los Angeles special assistant district attorney Jim Provenza, and John Lovell, government relations manager for the California Police Chiefs Association and California Peace Officers Association.
Explained Lovell, “AB 1347 sets out enforcement instructions to peace officers that are burdensome, confusing, and make enforcement of the law problematic. In effect, law enforcement is required to give what amounts to a ‘fix it’ ticket, no matter how
egregious the violations. If those violations are not remedied, law enforcement is only permitted to issue an infraction, which carries no criminal consequence. If a second violation occurs within 12 months of the first, only another infraction will ensue. It is only on the third violation that a misdemeanor can be filed.”
Provenza objected that amendments supposed to have ensured that AB 1347 would not roll back key provisions of the 1992 law were unclear, containing language “which could be read to prohibit or discourage animal control officers from citing pet stores for
“Took water from puppies!”
“They took access to water away from the puppies!” charged DeBoer. “They did that so the puppies don’t pee. The shop owners just don’t want to bother cleaning it up or offending customers.”
Section 122352 of the 1992 law stated that “Primary enclosures shall be constructed so they can be routinely maintained to allow animals to stay clean and to provide access to adequate food and water.” AB 1347 deleted the phrase “and to provide access to adequate food and water.”
Under Section 122155 of the 1992 law, pet stores still must “Provide dogs with adequate nutrition and potable water,” but they no longer must provide access to food and water as part of the dogs’ primary habitat. This means that the water supply system can be only a bowl, rather than a bottle from which a dog can suck water as
desired, and leaves inspectors with no way to verify when an empty bowl was last filled.
Space & mobility
The 1992 law also stipulated that “All primary enclosures shall provide adequate space and adequate mobility for the animal or animals housed in the enclosure.” AB 1347 deleted the phrase “adequate mobility.”
A requirement that “Enclosures shall be observed at least once daily, and animal and food wastes, used bedding, debris, and any other organic wastes shall be removed as necessary” was amended to refer only to “primary enclosures.”
Section 122360 formerly stated that “Nothing in this chapter shall be construed to in any way limit or affect the application or enforcement of any other law that protects consumers or the rights of animals.”
The reference to “the rights of animals” was replaced in AB 1347 with the phrase “animals or the rights of consumers.”
The San Diego-based Petco chain, with more than 850 stores nationwide, was embarrassed in 2002 when San Francisco city attorney Dennis Herrera sued the firm for what he termed “cruelty and a pattern of brazen violations of health and safety standards.”
Undercover investigations by API and PETA contributed to similar cases filed by the district attorneys of San Diego, Los Angeles, Marin, and San Mateo counties.
In May 2004 Petco settled the charges by agreeing to pay $661,754 in fines and investigative costs for allegedly neglecting animal care and overcharging customers, agreed to spend $202,500 to install better equipment in its California stores to eliminate overcharging, and in a separate settlement with San Francisco, agreed to pay $50,000, formally train staff in animal care, and allow inspection of Petco stores in the city by independent veterinarians.