By: Patti Strand  Date: 11/7/2006 Category: | Animal Legislation |

A concerted effort by dog breeders led a California senator to drop a proposed ban on ear cropping that had been tacked onto a bill to renew and update the state's veterinary practices law.

Animal rights activists lost the battle for the ban but gained ground with the provision requiring veterinarians to report signs of abuse in animals brought to them for treatment.

The ban was attached to the veterinary practices act when it failed to gain a hearing on its own merits. Dog owners bristled at this attempt to bypass the debate process by including the ban among the provisions of the medical bill. Senator Liz Figueroa withdrew the ban when it appeared that this opposition might jeopardize passage of the entire measure.

The National Animal Interest Alliance Trust opposed the ban because it would have:
changed the penal code without giving citizens an opportunity to debate and respond to the proposal;
robbed dog owners of choice to use an animal husbandry practice that is safely done using modern veterinary techniques.
lowered the threshold for government interference in a person's ethical choices, and
opened the door to intolerance and persecution, allowing animal rights groups to impose their values on dog owners and breeders.

Opponents of the ban packed the hearing room on August 4 and applauded when Senator Liz Figueroa withdrew her proposal. Letters, telephone calls, and most of all the appearance of dozens of dog enthusiasts at the hearing put legislators on notice that dog owners will step up to the plate when canine husbandry practices are threatened.

This was clearly an animal rights bill. The Humane Society of the US, the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, In Defense of Animals, and other groups oppose practices such as cropping and docking of dogs, declawing of cats, and surgical quieting of dogs. They repeatedly try variations on a theme to restrict or ban these practices and others. The activists have another chance to get a foot in the door in this session of the legislature by passing a bill to ban the declawing of exotic cats. A bill to ban declawing of all cats failed last year.

NAIA applauds the leadership and dedication of the American Kennel Club, the Doberman Pinscher Club of America, the National Breed Clubs Alliance, the Animal Council, the California Federation of Dog Clubs and all the other individuals who not only made their voices heard on this issue but also sent a message to lawmakers that all animal rights bills face organized resistance in the future.

Vets Must Report Abuse

Animal rights activists campaigned for the requirement that veterinarians report suspected abuse to the authorities. The provision incorporates an exemption from civil action for vets who report signs of abuse.

  • By requiring that veterinarians report signs of abuse, the bill does not allow for several circumstances, including
  • Breeders who bring sick or injured dogs to a new clinic without realizing that the vet doesn't like breeders;
  • Breeders who move from one community to another and bring an injured dog, sick puppies, a bitch in whelp and in trouble, etc. to a new clinic;
  • Pet owners or rescuers who bring a timid or fearful dog for treatment to a vet who doesn't understand submissive body language;
  • Citizens who rescue dogs hit by cars or bring stray dogs that are thin, injured, parasite-ridden, or sickly to a clinic they have never visited before; and
  • Dog owners and trainers who use training collars that have been labeled abusive by a small but increasingly vocal group of behaviorists and 'no-discipline' trainers.

Most veterinarians will act in good faith, but some may file reports out of bias against breeders, or because they sympathize with the animal rights movement. In any case, once the report has been made to animal control authorities, the law and prejudices of the individual agency take over. Dog owners charged with cruelty can be subjected to property searches (depending on the language in the law, a warrant may or may not be necessary), animal confiscation, criminal charges, a big bill for animal incarceration, even a felony record.

NAIA opposes poorly written laws that require veterinarians to report vague signs of abuse and instead relies on ethical veterinarians to consider entire circumstances before contacting local authorities. NAIA believes that these laws put veterinarians in an untenable position, robs them of discretion when they could educate the pet owner to better husbandry rather than turning them into authorities, and leads them to suspect every client who brings a sick or injured dog for treatment. NAIA further believes that such laws could result in failure to bring an injured or sick animal to a clinic out of fear that charges could be filed.


About The Author

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Patti Strand - NAIA President

Patti is a recognized expert and consultant on contemporary animal issues, most notably responsible dog ownership and the animal rights movement. She often appears on radio and television and her articles on canine issues, animal welfare, public policy and animal rights have appeared in major US news publications and in trade, professional and scientific journals. Patti and her…

All Authors Of This Article: | Patti Strand |
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