Calif. neutering bill stalled; SEEN AS THREAT TO NEUTER/RELEASE

From ANIMAL PEOPLE, June 1993:

SACRAMENTO, California––
Apparently ready to clear the California
state legislature without opposition, a bill to
require that free-roaming cats be neutered
was stalled at the last minute by unexpected
objections from the San Francisco SPCA.
The bill, AB 302, by assemblyman Paul
Horchner, reads simply, “An owner of a
cat over the age of six months shall have the
cat sterilized if the cat is permitted outdoors
without supervision.” Violators would be
given citations similar to traffic tickets,
with all penalties waived if their cats were
neutered within a 30-day grace period. The
bill had the active support of the California
Veterinary Medical Association, numerous
national organizations, and almost every
humane group in the state, including sever-
al who neuter and release feral cats.

However, a San Francisco coalition called
Cat Advocates somehow saw AB 302 as a
bill to require the roundup and euthanasia of
all feral cats, even though no language in it
suggests any such thing.
The three member groups of Cat
Advocates––the San Francisco SPCA, Pets
& Pals, and StreetCat Rescue––”have been
involved for months in hearings with San
Francisco Animal Control and Welfare,”
according to Dana C. Smith of the Feral Cat
Advocates subcommittee. “The Audubon
Society is trying to blame depleted numbers
of ground-feeding birds and songbirds on
feral cats in Golden Gate Park,” although
the rats plentiful in the park probably have at
least as much to do with it. “They have been
lobbying for a trap-and-kill program.
Animal Control, after six well-attended pub-
lic meetings, determined there was no defi-
nite evidence linking cats to significant loss
of birds.” However, the park planning com-
mittee still wants to kill the cats. “We sus-
pect their agenda is to quietly hire cat exter-
minators,” Smith told ANIMAL PEOPLE.
Apparently Cat Advocates believes
that AB 302 could be used to declare the
presence of the Golden Gate ferals illegal,
or conversely, to declare that the groups
which have neutered them are their owners
and therefore responsible for removing them
from public property.
AB 302 will now be reviewed in
committee until next year.
“We face more than enough attack,
opposition, and innuendo from people who
are uneducated, misguided, or who have
agendas other than the animals’ best interests
at heart,” editorialized Marin Humane
Society cruelty officer Pat Miller in the
spring 1993 edition of the California
Humane Action and Information Network
newsletter. “Which makes it all the more
disheartening when we are hit with ‘friendly
fire’ from one of our own, whether it be a
territorial dispute, a hurtful public state-
ment, or lack of support for a beneficial and
much-needed piece of legislation.”
[Editor’s note: the trick to avoid
ing friendly fire is communication.
Inasmuch as Marin is only a five-minute
drive from San Francisco, both are only a
two-hour drive from the state capitol in
Sacramento, and all three are served by the
major San Francisco media, which have
extensively covered the Golden Gate Park
situation, ANIMAL PEOPLE wonders
why Cat Advocates and the San Francisco
SPCA weren’t consulted about the language
of AB 302 before it ever was introduced.
This is exactly the sort of fiasco we warned
about in our January/February editorial,
“Time to Get Smart About Politics.”]
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