AGRICULTURE: California downer bill may ratify neglect of hurt cattle

From ANIMAL PEOPLE, October 1994:

SACRAMENTO, California––California governor Pete Wilson on September 16
signed SB 692, the California Downed Animal Protection Act, passed by the legislature on
August 26. Endorsed by Farm Sanctuary, the Doris Day Animal League, and the Association
of Veterinarians for Animal Rights, SB 692 was fought by the Humane Farming Association
and Friends of Animals, who charge that amendments made to win the support of the Farm
Bureau Federation mean the new law only ratifies the present treatment of injured and ill cattle.
Of most concern to HFA and FoA is clause 599f.(b), which originally mandated that,
“No slaughterhouse, stockyard, auction, market agency, dealer or hauler shall hold a nonam-
bulatory animal without immediately humanely euthanizing the animal.” As amended, 599f.(b)
deletes haulers from the list, enabling cattle truckers to continue to accept downers for trans-
port. Further, instead of requiring that downers be immediately euthanized, which precludes
slaughtering them for human consumption, the bill now requires only that “immediate action”
must be taken “to humanely euthanize the animal or remove the animal from the premises.”

Says HFA president Bradley Miller, “Immediate action could mean making a phone
call, and removing downers from the premises does nothing to alleviate their suffering. It just
means the animals have to be taken out of sight so that we can’t monitor their condition.”
Miller cited a recent case in which Marin County Farm Bureau president Brian Dolcini “was
charged with animal cruelty as it related to a downed Jersey bull who was left unattended for
several days on his property. He did not provide the critically ill animal with food, water, or
veterinary care. Nor did he have the bull mercifully euthanized,” Miller said. “Rather than pro-
vide appropriate care, Dolcini merely picked up a phone and left a message for a livestock
hauler to ‘remove the animal from the premises.’ For the sake of a few dollars, the Farm Bureau
president kept the suffering bull alive so that the animal’s flesh could be sold.”
Asked to respond, Farm Sanctuary provided only a bill summary which appeared to
have been authored before the final amendments were introduced.
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