California, Nevada humane enforcement under attack

From ANIMAL PEOPLE, April 1995:

Humane societies in California and Nevada
are battling state bills that could cripple
humane enforcement. California AB 1571
would strip humane societies of all law
enforcement authority. Nevada SB 45 would
impose a “Livestock Owners’ Bill of Rights.”
Introduced by Assemblyman Louis
Caldera of San Mateo, AB 1571 was
“authored” by aide Dan Reeves at request of
Pat Moran, lobbyist for the Police Officers
Research Association––apparently, by the
expedient of doing a computerized search of
state laws and striking out every reference to
“humane society” and “humane officer,”
regardless of context.
According to Moran, the intent was
to respond to “outlaws who are harassing
people all over California.” He cited the
examples of Barbara Fabricant of the
Humane Task Force and James McCourt of
Mercy Crusade, who were targets of recent
exposes by Josh Meyer of the Los Angeles
T i m e s. Fabricant recently touched off a
statewide furor for holding a blind man’s dog
for five months during a cruelty investiga-
tion. The charges were eventually dismissed.

Fabricant has also by her own admission had
difficulty controlling deputies, some of
whom, she believes, applied to be deputized
just to carry guns. She eventually barred her
deputies from carrying guns, and called for
legislation to take the right to carry guns
away from all humane officers.
McCourt, meanwhile, is under
continuing investigation for having bought
$100,000 worth of semi-automatic weapons
last summer with Mercy Crusade funds.
Both Fabricant and McCourt, along
with other California humane societies,
derive limited police powers and ability to
deputize from an antiquated statute that until
January 1 of this year didn’t even require
humane officers to have law enforcement
training. A 40-hour training requirement was
adopted last year at the initiative of the State
Humane Association of California; but train-
ing still isn’t required for officers appointed
before 1977, or who live more than 100
miles from a training site.
Despite the deficiencies of the law,
it remains the backbone of humane enforce-
ment in the state. As California Animal
Control Directors Association northern vice
president Pat Miller pointed out in a March
14 letter to Caldera, “Although the majority
of our 70 member agencies do not employ
humane officers, we do work closely with
humane societies and rely heavily on their
officers to share the burden of animal protec-
tion and enforcement of animal-related laws.
Without the services that humane officers
perform, frequently at no cost to local gov-
ernment, municipal animal control agencies
would require significant additional funding.”
Loss of the ability to get warrants and make
arrests would keep humane officers from pur-
suing cases except in company of regular
police forces––who have other priorities.
Calling Moran, ANIMAL PEO-
P L E found he didn’t know the difference
between a humane officer and an animal con-
trol officer; was unaware that municipal and
county governments often rely on private
humane societies to do animal-related
enforcement; was unaware that there appar-
ently isn’t a case on record of a California
humane officer ever injuring anyone with a
firearm; and two weeks after AB 1571 was
added to the legislative calendar, had yet to
consult with humane representatives.
“We assume your failure to consult
with related organizations and agencies that
would be seriously impacted by this legisla-
tion was simply an unfortunate oversight,”
Miller told Caldera.
“It will be amended,” Moran
promised. Probable amendments, in his
view, would restore some enforcement pow-
ers to humane officers working for agencies
under public contract, exclusive of the right
to carry a gun, and providing that mandatory
training is increased to at least 100 hours.
Rick Johnson, president of SHAC,
said Caldera’s office was apologetic for the
way in which AB 1571 was written and intro-
duced, and was agreeable to amendments “to
quickly produce more acceptable wording, to
address shared concerns about accountability
and training.” One important concern is that
any increased training requirement be phased
in, to avoid abruptly disenfranchising
humane officers.
The right to carry guns may become
contentious––and could actually put some
humane organizations on the same side as the
National Rifle Association, which supports
bills to allow all citizens to carry concealed
weapons. Observes Madeline Bernstein,
executive director of the Los Angeles SPCA,
“We have a north/south split. Most humane
officers in the northern part of the state don’t
carry guns and don’t perceive a need to.
Here, we’re dealing more often with the
druggies who have the pit bulls, and we do
need guns.”
The Nevada bill, an overt “wise
use” measure, declares that, “Except where
otherwise prohibited or authorized by a spe-
cific statute or regulation,” a qualifier appar-
ently meant to apply only to state laws, own-
ers may raise livestock for human or animal
consumption, or for “fur, hide, or other
byproduct”; use “livestock for sporting
events, entertainment, education, teaching,
lecturing, scientific investigation, or public
display”; sell the livestock “pursuant to any
lawful commercial or private transaction”;
“euthanize expeditiously or otherwise dispose
of” livestock “as deemed necessary”; “main-
tain the reproductive system of any livestock
in its natural or unaltered state”; and train
livestock “for use in a show or an act for per-
forming animals or for any other activity
which benefits such a person.”
Livestock is defined to include all
bovines, equines, swine, goats, domesticat-
ed birds, and “All dogs, cats or other ani-
mals domesticated or under the restraint or
control of man.”
Superficially, the bill codifies cur-
rent practice. But as Pete Bachstadt of the
Carson-Eagle Valley Humane Society points
out, it actually goes a great deal farther.
“SB 45 will mandate the right for
anyone to kill anything nonhuman in any
manner, by any means, at any time,” says
Bachstadt. “It could eliminate spay/neuter
[encouraged or required by local ordinance,
such as differential licensing] as a control of
unwanted excess animals. Nevada could
become the nation’s capitol for charro rodeo;
ritual and cult sacrifice; animal fighting;
bear-baiting; coondogging; hog/dog con-
tests; puppy mills; pigeon shoots; pulling
contests; live lure training; aphrodisiac mak-
ers; and sex deviates of the kind who put
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