ACR 86, the Pet Crisis Response Act, has Vote Postponed by Senate Until 2024
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.
9/15/23, Sacramento, CA – We are disheartened that this week the Senate ultimately decided that three Assembly Concurrent Resolutions (ACR), one of which was ACR 86, Pet Crisis Response Act, would not be voted on until next year.
Unfortunately the delay is an example of how bills can sometimes get caught up in political wrangling that have nothing to do with the contents of the bill itself. ACR 86 had unanimous support in both houses of the legislature.
The story is this. ACR 86 had the possibility to be on the consent calendar, but due to a delay set in motion by the bill's late Senate Business and Professions Committee hearing date, followed by amendments to add coauthors, on top of word that the Republican caucus had some issues with the language regarding breeders, it was not placed on consent. Then, Senate leadership announced that no ACR's would be voted on in the last two weeks of the session.
We learned that the reason no ACR's would be voted on was because there were other ACRs that did not have unanimous support and therefore jeopardized ACR 86. Instead of debating the merits of each ACR on its own, Senate leadership decided that they would not vote on any ACR, including ours. In essence, ACR 86 was held hostage by leadership. At least for now, that is.
However, all is not lost, the resolution is still active and will be voted on in January when the legislature reconvenes.
The content of ACR 86 highlights the ongoing pet overpopulation crisis that is happening now. We know that California faces many challenges that our elected officials must work on, but our state's shelters and veterinary and rescue community are under extreme stress due to this crisis and deserve more focus from our leaders.
In the meantime, over the fall months SCIL will be working with all of the stakeholders who contributed to crafting ACR 86, as well as any other stakeholders who would like to be involved, to help create both legislative and non-legislative solutions highlighted in the resolution for 2024.
Despite the delay by the Senate, we thank Assemblymember Ash Kalra (D-San Jose) and his staff for their work on ACR 86, and all twelve coauthors for their commitment to continue working to solve this crisis.
RESOLUTION TEXT BELOW:
ACR 86 Pet Crisis Response Act
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, which resulted in 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, should encourage out-of-state licensed veterinarians and registered veterinary technicians to become licensed in California to perform or assist with 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.