California Laws in 2019 Reflect Animal Rights Awareness

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While our nation’s executive and legislative branches continue their budgetary brawl over “the wall,” California juris prudence heralds new laws recognizing companion animals as living beings with certain rights. Here are some of the new laws and pilot projects effective in 2019:

AB 2445 (O’Donnell D) Public health: retail sale of dogs, cats and rabbits. Pet store owners may only sell animals obtained from a public animal control agency or shelter, ASPCA shelter, Humane Society shelter or designated rescue group. Store operators must provide veterinary records to prospective pet parents, outline their “return policy” and maintain records documenting the the health, status and disposition of each animal for at least two years after the sale. Civil penalties apply. Here’s to less grist for the pet mills!

AB 2774 (Limón D) Animal shelters: adoption application: crimes. Established law prohibits anyone convicted of misdemeanor or felony animal cruelty from owning, having custody of, or caring for any animal for five to ten years after their conviction (depending on the severity of the crime). Officials at any animal control agency, rescue group or adoption organization may now ask potential adopters whether they are prohibited from owning or possessing an animal based on these prohibitions. You can ask - but would they really tell? A database?

AB 2300 (Maienschein R) Continuing education: veterinarians. Currently, the Veterinary Medical Board mandates that each practitioner complete a minimum of 36 hours of continuing education every two years. Applicants up for renewal may now earn up to four of those hours by providing pro bono spay and neuter services to a household with a demonstrated need for reduced or no-cost services. A win-win if there ever was one.

AB 2274 (Quirk D) Division of community property: pet animals. At the request of  one of the parties in a divorce proceeding, the court may assign sole or joint ownership of a community property pet animal taking into consideration the best interests and care of the animal. Also, at the request of one of the parties, the court may designate a third party to care for the pet animal pending final judgement of the court. Another step toward recognizing pets as sovereign beings.

AB 1776 (Steinorth R) Emergency medical transport of police dogs: pilot project. Authorizes the County of San Bernardino to collaborate with the Inland Counties Emergency Medical Agency (ICEMA) in conducting a pilot project facilitating the transport of police dogs injured in the line of duty to a facility capable of providing veterinary medical services. The ICEMA is required to collect specified data about the pilot project and submit a report describing the data to the State Legislature by January 1, 2022. Dogs in blue put their lives on the line, too!

AB 2215 (Kalra D) Veterinarians: cannabis: animals. Prohibits the Veterinary Medical Board (VMB) from disciplining, or denying, revoking, or suspending a vet’s license for discussing the medicinal use of cannabis on a companion animal. Dispensing such products, however, remains verboten. Parameters for such discussions between vets and pet parents shall be developed on or before January 1, 2020 and posted on VMB’s website. CBD: out of the shadows, but not quite on the vet’s shelves.

AB 1762 (Steinorth R) State parks: visitors: animals: dogs. Requires the Department of Parks and Recreation to post and update information on the specific areas in designated parks where dogs are allowed. Pet parents can plan their family getaway to include everyone!

The legal status of animals has come a long way since 1635 when the Parliament of Ireland first banned the “pulling” of wool off live sheep and the attaching of ploughs to horse’s tails. How far animal rights should extend is a subject of continued debate among companion animal lovers. Is it enough to shut down mills, convict promoters of dog fighting, ban factory farming and animal testing? Should we all become vegans?

Rescue Legacy will continue to explore these questions as the definition of “companion animal” evolves and pets continue to deepen their place in our lives.