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Sterilization act raises hackles

Wide-eyed kittens mewed and squirmed in the arms of 11-year-old animal rescuer Grace McDonald and her younger brother, Ian, in the Cat Nap adoption room at AnimalSave in Grass Valley.

The nonprofit shelter has 56 abandoned kittens.

The McDonald siblings fostered five litters of kittens last year. Earlier day this month, they helped their mother deliver a record 25 cats in one day to an Auburn spay and neuter clinic.



A proposed law designed to curb the high numbers of unwanted pets throughout the state has raised the hackles of some animal lovers who see the mandate as a infringement on a pet owner’s right to choose.

Nevada County’s Animal Control Department supports the bill, AB 1634, also called the California Healthy Pets Act, department chief Lt. Ron Earles said. Assemblyman Lloyd Levine, D-Sherman Oaks, introduced the bill to reduce the number of animals killed when they are abandoned.




Critics say the bill is poorly written.

“There’s so many things wrong with this bill. It is confusing to everyone,” said Bill Hemby, a Grass Valley man who has organized an umbrella coalition of 25,000 people opposed to the legislation (www.petpac.net).

Spaying and neutering animals at four months old as written in the bill would destroy the selection pool of service dogs because many of those animals come from shelters, Hemby said.

Emily Snelling, speaking for herself and not as executive director of AnimalSave, said she supports the general idea of the plan, but it needs some refining.

The bill needs to better address funding sources, enforcement, include an educational component and give direction on how low-income people can comply with the new rules.

County supports the bill

Enforcement won’t be an issue, said Earles who runs the county’s animal shelter, a division of the Nevada County Sheriff’s Office. Complaints would drive most enforcement, and the high penalties for not complying would motivate people to get their animals altered, he said.

“I believe there will be a lot of voluntary compliance because it’s the law,” Earles said.

The bill would mean fewer unwanted animals would die, Earles said.

“Having animals born to be killed is ridiculous,” Earles said.

While the state euthanasia rate is about 60 percent of shelter animals, or 500,000 animals per year, Earles said Nevada County’s rates are as low as 3 percent.

Funding sources would come from the $500 fines issued to pet owners who don’t comply, Earles said. The new revenue source would allow for the distribution of more spay and neuter vouchers used by low income families at local veterinarians, he said.

“I don’t think it will be that much of a burden, and I think that’s why the state isn’t giving out any money,” Earles said.

Low-cost vets maxed out

Such a mandate would bring in more people to AnimalSave, which offers discounts on spaying and neutering for people who can’t afford it.

But the region has outgrown the group’s current capacity; members are exploring alternatives such as a mobile clinic that could offer the services. Snelling said AnimalSave feels the punch to the group’s bottom line because they pay full price for veterinary services when the Auburn clinic books up.

“It does cause a hardship in some ways, but we’re really happy to see people reach out for spay and neuter needs,” Snelling said.

End of the mutt?

Those who oppose the bill say it means only the rich will be able to afford the permits allowed in the bill to breed their beloved animals.

“What about animals that live on farms?” wondered one local woman who raises Afghan hounds for show. The woman, who asked to remain unnamed, she doesn’t sterilize her animals because she doesn’t believe it’s good for them. She called the law a “blanket cover” for the problem of unwanted animals, and that each animal has a unique situation.

“Mutts are a good thing. People love their dogs,” she said.

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To contact Staff Writer Laura Brown, e-mail laurab@theunion .com or call 477-4231.

Pets endangered by Angora Fire get help

At least two organizations are offering help to animals that have been displaced by the Angora Fire.

They also are looking for donations from humans.

• El Dorado Animal Control, 1120 Shakori Drive in Meyers, will accept pets at the shelter for people who have been evacuated. Officers also are available to rescue animals. People who find animals displaced by the fire may take them to the shelter. For more information call, 577-1766.

• Lake Tahoe Humane Society and S.P.C.A., 1221 Emerald Bay Road at the “Y.” Accepting donations and making distributions of dry name-brand dog and cat food, cat litter and pans and towels. Foster families also are needed. For more information, call 542-2857.

– Tahoe Daily Tribune


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