Issue backgrounder

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Aug 01, 2007

In March, The California Veterinary Medical Association (CVMA) co-sponsored a bill mandating the sterilization of all owned dogs and cats in the state, but has changed its support to take a neutral position because of its members' negative reaction.

The initiative stirs intense debate among breeders and citizens favoring less government oversight and those determined to lower the state's euthanasia numbers.

Veterinarians are sharply divided.

Critics claim the changes water down the bill, but currently, AB 1634 prohibits ownership of an intact pet more than 6 months old unless a local permit is purchased. In the Assembly's version, the waiver is available only to licensed breeders, legitimate show dogs or cats, obedience guide and disability dogs as well as therapy, working or police dogs. The Senate bill permits any owner to buy an intact permit. Fee revenues would help administer the program, enforced by animal-control authorities.

Violators would face $500 civil penalties. Temporary exceptions would be made for animals not healthy enough to undergo surgery, based on a veterinarian's letter.