Periodically, I receive a recorded phone message from PETA (People for the "Ethical" Treatment of Animals...I won't dignify their site by linking to it). I have no idea where they got my phone number; maybe they phone everyone. I usually hang up as soon as I know who it is, but today the machine picked it up.
They are asking people to support a California bill, CA A.B. 1634, that imposes a $500 fine on people who don't spay or neuter their pet dogs and cats by the age of 4 months. There will be some "intact permits" available for a fee.
There are a lot of different claims about what this bill means, so I went to the source
. Here's my summary:
Intact permits will be available only for
(1) licensed breeders
(2) owners of purebred cats and dogs ("recognized by an approved registry or association") that are currently being "used to show or compete" under the auspieces of such an organization
(3) working dogs for "law enforcement, fire agencies, or legitimate professional or volunteer private sector working dog organizations"
(4) animals that have a letter from "a California licensed veterinarian stating that due to age, poor health, or illness, it is unsafe to spay or neuter the cat or dog. This letter shall include the veterinarian's license number and shall, if this information is available, include the duration of the condition of the dog or cat, and the date by which the dog or cat may be safely spayed or neutered"
(5) "guide dogs, signal dogs, or service dogs".
I think altering your pet cats and dogs is a good idea. I think there are too many unwanted animals. I think puppy mills are bad. (They are already against the law...commercial breeding requires a license.) I have no problem with individual businesses and organizations having rules that require spay/neuter before they'll provide you with an animal.
I also think that it's legitimate to pay a small extra fee if you want to have an intact animal. In San Mateo County the annual fees are $30 for an unaltered dog and $12 for an altered dog. But $500 is too much.
I am really uncomfortable with the idea that only "certified" purebred animals that are currently being shown or worked can be legitimately bred. Mixed-breed pets are just as valuable and useful as purebred ones, and there are lots of organizings sponsoring competitions and training for mixed-breed pets. This bill would legitimize only associations that restrict membership to purebred animals.
I think that purebred cats and dogs are often inbred and not as genetically sound as mixed-breed cats and dogs (I volunteer at an animal shelter, and the purebred animals that come in are on average less healthy than the mixed breed ones). Because of inbreeding, a certain number of purebred puppies and kittens will have genetic disorders that may cause them suffering. So I object to a law that limits breeding only to purebreds.
I think laws should be made with the assumption that people are basically going to do the right thing and should focus on punishing people who do harm, rather than trying to prevent harm by imposing restrictions on everybody. Of course I think some restrictions are legitimate—for example, I think the law that you need to stop at a red light even if the streets seem empty is legitimate even though it's a restriction—but responsibly
breeding your non-purebred cat or dog should not be one of them.
As far as PETA is concerned, I know why they are supporting this bill: They would like there to be no pets and no pet ownership at all. I have heard that PETA euthanizes healthy adoptable animals
that they received from people who believed they would find homes for the animals. So I think they will support anything that imposes restrictions on pet ownership and on breeding.