May 30, 2023


AB 829 Passes Full Assembly!

May 30, 2023, Sacramento, CA – Today, Assembly Bill 829, the Animal Cruelty & Violence Intervention Act, authored by Assemblywoman Marie Waldron (R-Valley Center) and sponsored by Social Compassion in Legislationpassed the full Assembly with a preliminary vote of 72-0.

“I am thankful to my colleagues in the Assembly for passing AB 829 with bipartisan support,” said Assemblywoman Marie Waldron. “This bill is critical to ensure the safety of innocent animals who cannot speak for themselves and help those suffering from mental health disorders get the treatment they need.”

“Day after day, we hear of so much violence in our society. We are so grateful to the entire California State Assembly for their support on this important bill. AB 829 will expand mental health treatment for convicted animal abusers and gets them the appropriate level of help they need to stop them from reoffending and hurting more animals, or going further by abusing humans, which statistically we know happens all too often,” said Judie Mancuso, founder and president of Social Compassion in Legislation.

AB 829 requires a court to consider ordering a defendant who has been granted probation after conviction of specified animal abuse crimes to undergo a mental health evaluation, and requires the defendant to complete mandatory counseling as directed by the court, if the evaluator deems it necessary.

1) Requires the court to consider for every defendant who is granted probation for specified animal abuse offenses, whether to order that the person undergo a mental health evaluation by an evaluator chosen by the court. These offenses include:

a. Sexual contact with an animal;

b. Willful poisoning of an animal;

c. Animal cruelty;

d. Keeping an animal in specified places without proper care; and,

e. Intentionally causing injury or death to a guide or service dog.

2) Specifies that if the mental health evaluator deems a higher level of treatment than general counseling is necessary, the defendant shall complete such treatment as directed by the court.

3) Requires the defendant to pay for both any mental health evaluations and any subsequent treatment, but if the court determines that the defendant is unable to pay for that counseling, the court may develop a sliding fee schedule based upon the defendant's ability to pay.

4) Provides that a person who is receiving specified public benefits or whose monthly income is 200% or less of the current federal poverty guidelines shall not be responsible for any costs.

5) Specifies that the required counseling is in addition to any other terms and conditions of probation, including any term of imprisonment and fine.

6) Makes confidential the finding that the defendant suffers from a mental disorder, as well as any progress reports concerning the defendant's treatment, or any other records created pursuant to these provisions, and prohibits their release or use in connection with any civil proceeding without the defendant’s consent.

We thank Assemblymember Waldron for her leadership in guiding this bill through the Assembly with unanimous bipartisan support. We look forward to engaging the Senate on this important legislation. Please keep an eye out for updates soon!

In case you missed our press release from last week, we need your support.

Assemblymember Ash Kalra, Social Compassion in Legislation, and a large coalition including Priscilla Presley and Katherine Heigl join forces to introduce a resolution urging action on the State’s pet overpopulation crisis

ACR 86 calls for the State to immediately fund spay and neuter and other medical services along with a public relations campaign urging Californians to adopt shelter animals, to stop unwanted litters, and for out-of-state veterinarians and registered veterinary technicians to apply for California licensure.


5/24/23, Sacramento, CA – Today, Assemblymember Ash Kalra (D-San Jose) and coauthors Senators Catherine Blakespear (D-Encinitas), Rosilicie Ochoa Bogh (R-Yucaipa), Bill Dodd (D-Napa), Monique Limon (D-Santa Barbara), Henry Stern (D-Los Angeles), Scott Wilk (R-Santa Clarita), and Assemblymembers Tasha Boerner (D-Encinitas), Bill Essayli (R-Riverside), Miguel Santiago (D-Los Angeles), Marie Waldron (R-Valley Center), Greg Wallis (R-Bermuda Dunes) and Rick Zbur (D-West Hollywood/Santa Monica) introduced ACR 86, Pet Crisis Response, which urges action on the pet overpopulation crisis in California. ACR 86 is sponsored by Social Compassion in Legislation and supported by veterinarians, shelter staff and volunteers, rescue organizations, and philanthropists and celebrities including Priscilla Presley, Katherine Heigl, Maggie Q, Dr. Gary Michelson and Louise Linton.


ACR 86 details the underlying issues that have contributed to too many dogs, cats, rabbits and other species being born in or brought into California without enough Californians willing to give them forever homes.

Many shelters in the state are at capacity and are turning away stray animals that people bring in and rejecting in-take of animals that people are trying to relinquish. Not only is this a humane issue for the animals and a public safety crisis, but it is also taking a tremendous emotional toll on shelter employees and volunteers, the rescue community, the veterinary community, and many others. The situation is also placing a gigantic burden on California taxpayers, who are paying to house, re-home and in many cases euthanize the ones not adopted or reclaimed, simply to make space.


“Our animal shelters do not have the room or resources to care for unchecked pet populations,” said Assemblymember Kalra, lead author. “Without greater investment in affordable spay and neuter services and veterinary staffing, this problem will only continue to persist, leading to diminishing shelter conditions, burnt out staff, and tens of thousands of unwanted animals struggling to survive in the streets. ACR 86 calls attention to this crisis and asks the state to begin taking the necessary steps to address deficits in our shelter system.” 

Specifically, the resolution urges the Veterinary Medical Board to call for more out-of-state veterinarians and registered veterinary technicians to apply for a California license so they can immediately start providing spay and neuter surgeries and other medical services to address the pet overpopulation crisis. SCIL will also be seeking ways to remove the regulatory hurdle that prevents immediate medical relief by giving veterinarians temporary licensing reciprocity in a time of need.

The resolution also calls on the State and local municipalities to fund programs for high-volume spay and neuter services, and for the State to create an adequate funding source for ongoing spay and neuter services. Lastly, ACR 86 calls for a public relations campaign to urge Californians seeking to add a pet to their family to adopt a shelter animal and to spay and neuter all pets in their homes.


 “I founded my group in 2007 to focus on the pet overpopulation crisis. We made great strides through local and state legislation, but COVID was a game changer,” said Judie Mancuso, founder and president of Social Compassion in Legislation. “The progress we made was erased due to a temporary spike in consumer demand for puppies, combined with shelter closures, spay and neuter providers shutting down or severely reducing their hours and access, the proliferation of “backyard” and “hobby” dog breeders trying to profit from the demand, and the public purchasing unaltered dogs from in- and out-of-state breeders versus adopting from a shelter or rescue group. All these factors contributed to a tsunami of unwanted animals which has created the crisis at hand.”


"I am delighted to express my support for the work of Social Compassion in Legislation in their efforts to substantially reduce the long-standing issue of pet overpopulation, specifically concerning dogs and cats, in the State of California. Having been actively involved in animal welfare initiatives for many years, I have personally witnessed the diverse impacts that arise from the overpopulation of pets in our communities, counties, and the state. It is my belief that we could save many millions of state, county, and city dollars to address the problem by re-allocating those dollars in early effective overpopulation control,” said Priscilla Presleyactress and philanthropist.


“Our approach to combating animal overpopulation has been ineffective and clearly incapable of prevention, as we tend to tackle it in a reactive manner, rather than adopting a proactive and cost-effective approach. The resolution put forth by Social Compassion in Legislation addresses the importance of prevention, which is consistently more economical than reacting after the fact. This is why I lend my full support to their cause. Our state must become as proactive in this field as it is in numerous other domains,” Presley added. “To make substantial progress in reducing overpopulation and mitigating the associated costs of animal services through the state, it is imperative that state funding expands services and enacts changes that facilitate the increased presence of veterinary professionals. For this reason, I sincerely hope that the Governor and Legislature wholeheartedly embrace this vital resolution."

“My foundation has given millions of dollars for spay and neuter surgeries in California to help mitigate the pet overpopulation problem. But private foundations cannot do it alone,” said Dr. Gary Michelson, founder of the Michelson Found Animals Foundation. “It is time that the state steps up and helps take responsibility for this runaway problem which leads to animals suffering and their needless deaths.”


Katherine and I launched the Jason Debus Heigl Foundation Namaste Spay and Neuter Initiative to help tackle the pet overpopulation problem in California and beyond,” said Nancy Heigl, executive producer and philanthropist. "Unfortunately, the problem is too big for private dollars alone to solve – we need the state and local governments to step up and allocate the resources needed as called for in ACR 86 if we are going to make progress.”

“Having spent time on the ground in the shelters since we have come out of Covid, I will say that I have never seen a time like this. Animal overpopulation has always been an issue, but never at this level,” said Maggie Q, actress and board member of Social Compassion in Legislation. “Not only has the stray population not come under complete control, but to compound the issue, we have backyard breeders trying to make a quick buck by breeding reasonably priced purebreds for the public - it has been a complete and utter disaster for not only the shelters, but for the rescue groups who need to relieve them."

"Yes, the shelters need more money, and truly the resources would be welcome. But I think the ultimate goal needs to come from a rethink on how we allowed this problem to escalate to this level. When I look at the rows and rows of pure-bred dogs at any given shelter in the city, it means we have a breeding regulatory issue. I am calling on any and all to come together and work on this big picture with us. Without our intervention the problem will grow, and the shoulders of our city workers, volunteers and our non-profits will break.”

“One of my goals as a proud board member of Social Compassion in Legislation is to bring together the different stakeholders who are each doing their very best to tackle the pet overpopulation problem in California. That includes shelter management and staff, rescue organizations, policymakers, and philanthropic organizations like mine,” said Louise Linton, actress and founder of the Louise Linton Charitable Fund, and board member of Social Compassion in Legislation. “ACR 86 is a call to action, bringing all of these groups to work together to solve this issue in a sustainable fashion.”


“I’ve worked in the veterinary profession for 25 years, as a veterinarian for 10 years, and I have never seen anything as dire as the situation we are seeing today. The shelters I serve are full, my colleagues are breaking physically and mentally from the stress, we are afraid to take a day off knowing it might mean an animal gets killed,” said Dr. Crystal Heath, veterinarian and founder of Our Honor.


"This resolution is an important first step in addressing the shortage of veterinarians and veterinary staff in California. There are too many animals for us to give them the care they need, the shelters are full, and rescue groups are overburdened. The solution is clear—we must increase access to spay and neuter services, discourage breeding, and facilitate the influx of veterinarians and veterinary staff into California," said Dr. Daniela Castillo, founder of the Castillo Animal Veterinary.


“Rescuers like me, who focus on farm animals, are also drowning due largely to the increased breeding of the so called “micro-pig” - a craze that gained its popularity from celebrities, social media influencers, and breeders who continue to promote the lie that there is such thing as a “mini” pig that stays under 70 pounds,” said Simone Reyes, board member for Social Compassion. “Once these pigs hit puberty, they grow too big for most guardians to be able to care for or find themselves living in areas not zoned for pigs. We need to double down on enforcing breeding laws. When breeding is left unchecked, it adds to the steady stream of owner surrenders. Pigs can develop behavioral issues due to being un-neutered. We are in desperate need to get the males, at the very least, fixed at the shelters so that they can be placed into responsible, loving forever homes that meet their specific needs, and stop unwanted litters that contribute to this tragic pet-pig trend.”



ACR 86 Pet Crisis Response

WHEREAS, There is a pet overpopulation crisis in California; and

WHEREAS, California’s private and public shelters and the private rescue organizations that support them are overwhelmed with animals; and

WHEREAS, California’s private and public shelters are chronically underfunded while tasked with tackling many of the state’s animal needs, such as fighting animal abuse, addressing mental health issues, such as hoarding, providing safekeeping for pets when owners are arrested or placed in the hospital, supporting public safety, such as rabies control, assisting first responders during emergencies and natural disasters, reunifying pets with their people, and providing life-impacting veterinary interventions and care, animal behavioral support, and adoptions; and

WHEREAS, Due to breeding and lack of access to spaying and neutering services, the state’s shelters are experiencing overcrowding, leading to higher rates of illness, euthanasia, and operational hardships; and

WHEREAS, Due to shelter overcrowding, shelters are turning away animals from intake, leading to higher rates of animals procreating and struggling to survive on the streets; and

WHEREAS, There has been an influx of rabbits, horses, pigs, and other agricultural animals into shelters whose higher level of care puts further strain on shelter resources; and

WHEREAS, The COVID-19 pandemic exacerbated the challenges that shelters face due to shelter closures or highly reduced hours, staffing shortages, and functional interruptions; and

WHEREAS, Californians adopted pets at record numbers during the COVID-19 pandemic and many Californians underestimated the time that was needed to care for pets and then returned to work, leading to higher rates of owner relinquishment; and

WHEREAS, Due to the brief spike in demand for pets during the pandemic, many Californians, seeing an economic opportunity, began breeding dogs for monetary gain, thereby contributing to the pet overpopulation crisis; and

WHEREAS, Californians are currently not adopting pets from shelters and rescues at the level needed; and

WHEREAS, Californians are buying unaltered “purebred” animals from both in-state and out-of-state breeders; and

WHEREAS, There is a shortage of pet-friendly housing in California, leading to increased owner relinquishment; and

WHEREAS, Due to the pandemic, veterinary clinics and shelters were not able to perform routine spay and neuter surgeries, perpetuating more unwanted litters; and

WHEREAS, There is insufficient community access to low-cost or free spay and neuter clinics, as well as a lack of resources needed to fully enforce state and local laws concerning licensing, breeding, spaying, and neutering; and

WHEREAS, There is a lack of affordable veterinary services available to Californians and their companion animals, which contributes to animal suffering and increased owner relinquishments; and

WHEREAS, There are only two veterinary schools in California, both with limited seating, which fail to meet the state’s demand for licensed veterinarians, and there are not enough academic faculty at those institutions to teach veterinary students; and

WHEREAS, There are not enough licensed veterinarians and registered veterinary technicians, particularly those trained to perform high-volume spay and neuter surgeries, to meet the service demands of California’s shelters, leading to shelter animals being adopted unaltered, thus adding to the pet overpopulation crisis; and

WHEREAS, There is a mental health crisis among veterinarians and shelter and rescue volunteers and staff due to occupational stress, leading to reported suicide rates four to five times higher than the general population; and

WHEREAS, Local jurisdictions spend over $400,000,000 per year in operating the state’s shelters to house, adopt out, and euthanize homeless animals; and

WHEREAS, The only annual state funding for shelters is the roughly $500,000 allocated through the Pet Lover’s Fund funded by the Pet Lover’s specialized license plates program, and a tax check-off program for low-cost spay and neuter; and

WHEREAS, Millions of private and philanthropic dollars are spent every year to assist California’s shelter animals; and

WHEREAS, The Legislature has failed to appropriate ongoing funds to carry out the mandates of Senate Bill 1785 (Chapter 752 of the Statutes of 1998), authored by Senator Tom Hayden; now, therefore, be it

Resolved by the Assembly of the State of California, the Senate thereof concurring, That the Veterinary Medical Board, with support from the Governor, other state boards and agencies, and interested stakeholders, encourages out-of-state licensed veterinarians and registered veterinary technicians to become licensed in California to perform the necessary spay and neuter surgeries and other medical services in order to address pet overpopulation; and be it further

Resolved, That the state and local municipalities, in cooperation with public and private shelters, nonprofit rescue organizations, and private foundations, are encouraged to develop and fund high-volume spay and neuter clinics across the state to provide sterilization services; and be it further

Resolved, That allocation of adequate funding for statewide spay and neuter programs and resources for broader enforcement of state and local licensing, breeding, and spay and neuter laws is urgently needed; and be it further

Resolved, That the State of California is encouraged to conduct a public relations campaign urging Californians to adopt shelter animals rather than buying an animal from a breeder, and to always spay and neuter them; and be it further

Resolved, That the Chief Clerk of the Assembly transmit copies of this resolution to the author for appropriate distribution.

If you appreciate and support what we do, please donate today. Our group exist on your donations alone. Please give today!

Thank you so much,

Judie Mancuso, founder/CEO/president

Social Compassion in Legislation

Social Compassion in Legislation
See what's happening on our social sites:
Facebook  Twitter  Instagram