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By Roz Rogoff

About this blog: In January 2002 I started writing my own online "newspaper" titled "The San Ramon Observer." I reported on City Council meetings and other happenings in San Ramon. I tried to be objective in my coverage of meetings and events, and...  (More)

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Joan Buchanan is no friend of animals

Uploaded: Sep 2, 2010
As many of my readers know, I'm involved in animal rescue groups. For years we have supported spay and neuter laws. Senate Bill 250 would have applied current law related to stray, and non-spayed, and unneutered dogs and cats that are impounded by a public pound or private shelter to all unlicensed, unaltered and impounded animals that are released from California's local shelters.

Buchanan voted against SB250 in 2009, claiming it would require purchase of a special "unaltered" license at a higher fee which "would have placed an undue hardship on breeders and the average pet owner."

According to Judie Mancuso, President, Social Compassion in Legislation, "the opposition succeeded in delivering misinformation and alarming legislators into believing that SB 250 was a mandatory sterilization bill for ALL pet owners. SB 250 would only apply to pets that are not properly licensed and not in compliance with existing law."

An amended version of SB250 was brought back to the Assembly this August, and again Joan Buchanan voted No. Evidently Buchanan wasn't one of the members of the legislature according to Mancuso who ". . . took the time to read the language of the bill, hear our arguments and concerns, and reconsider their vote on the issue."

In the meantime the State of California is spending over $300 million annually controlling pet overpopulation. Over 500,000 dogs and cats are annually housed and euthanized in our local shelters. Enforcing spay and neuter laws would reduce the amount of unwanted animals at shelters being euthanized and cut the cost of continuing this disgraceful practice.

Buchanan doesn't get it. Last September she sent a letter to Elise Stewart, thanking her for "taking the time to contact me regarding your opposition to SB250." Except Stewart, who is the President and founder of Safe-Cat Foundation, is in favor of the bill.

Buchanan's letter continued on about finding ways (presumably other than requiring spaying and neutering) to limit the overpopulation of dogs, when our organization is about saving cats. So much for how much attention Buchanan paid to SB250 or her constituents.

Abram Wilson is running against Buchanan for the 15th Assembly District. He supports AB250, which he called "a no brainer."

Wilson is a fiscal conservative and would be happy to find ways to save the State $300 million a year spent on putting dogs and cats to death. I urge everyone who cares about animal welfare and overpopulation, and saving the State millions of dollars, to vote for Abram Wilson this November.

Local Journalism.
What is it worth to you?


Posted by Elise Stewart, a resident of San Ramon,
on Sep 3, 2010 at 7:46 am

Thank you Roz. It was ridiculous that after spending 20 minutes on the phone with Joan Buchanan's office explaining the importance of this legislation and how I have to sift through "kill lists" daily to save a few, that she wrote a letter thanking me regarding my opposition. That her office would even communicate the exact opposite of my intentions, or that she so blatantly ignored her constituent, reveled she had no business representing me. How could she have gotten this so wrong? How can it be punishing low income pet owners when it's their unaltered animals that are flooding the shelters with unwanted kittens and puppies that everyone has to pay for just to kill? The cost of not altering animals costs every tax payer, it impacts all of society. Personally I'd rather put my tax money in the school system to educate children to become compassionate adults than pay for a system to justify the killing of hundreds of thousands of innocent animals.

Posted by Mary Lou Oliver, a resident of San Ramon,
on Sep 3, 2010 at 1:50 pm

Roz, thank you for all your efforts on behalf of SB 250. I was very sorry to see it go down to defeat in the Assembly. For a complete list of those Assembly Men and Women who voted against the bill, here is a list. Web Link
For those of us who's pets are rescues, and who understand the plight of unwanted and forgotten animals, I hope this bill returns for another vote.

Posted by Rose Nadeau, a resident of San Ramon,
on Sep 3, 2010 at 2:12 pm

I'm not in favor of SB250, however, I very much feel that everyone should spay/neuter their pets. Talk about a no brainer. Anyone who feels that they don't need to spay/neuter these animals need to spend a season trying to save and find homes for all the animals born that are unwanted and/or wild. it's heartbreaking and so unfair to these animals. Contact any rescue in the area. There are many of them and they are all in need of volunteers.
There may not be many loose dogs running around this area but there are plenty of cats, whether you seen them or not. If you keep your animals contained in your home, you may think you don't need to spay/neuter. Think again. They only have to get out for a short time and the deed is done. Or you may become ill, have to move, or a million other reasons that result in your animal needing to find a new home or be in the care of someone who lets them out. it's much better for the animal to be spay/neutered at a young age. Don't wait.

Sometimes things happen, people have a bad day, they make mistakes and you may think that's what happened to Ms. Stewart when she contacted Joan Buchanan. I only know about Ms. Stewart's situation from what I've read above, but I assure you, this is not Buchanan's office having a bad day. I'm convinced it's "business as usual" for Buchanan's office. I've spoken with both her Sacramento and her San Ramon offices several times. A couple staff members talked about the overwhelming job of dealing with all the bills. Listening to them, it was obvious that the staff, and Buchanan, just isn't up to the task of the job. It's too overwhelming for them. If they had less apathy for the issues and the voters, it would probably help them a great deal but I doubt they'll change their ways or even want to. I should point out that while I called to talk about the spay/neuter bill, at the time I spoke in favor of it.

I was told that my questions would be answered by letter. The staff member told me that Buchanan sends more letters to her constituents than any other assembly person. I pointed out that volume isn't what matters. As the staff member talked on (ranted), it became apparent that most likely, if I got a letter at all, it would be a form letter, not one that specifically answered my questions. I told the staff member that if all they plan to do is send me a boilerplate, form letter, that's as good as no letter at all. The staff member who had spent most of the phone call trying to get off the phone, shouted, "I don't take threats!" and hung up. Now I ask you, is that a mentally sound person? I never received any letter. I doubt that staff member even made note of the questions.

No, Joan Buchanan isn't a friend to animals. I think she has voted no on all the bills that have come by her desk that were of benefit to animals. She doesn't care about animals and she can't do her job. I'm hoping when it's election time, we have many candidates to chose from, that we can find a good one..

But don't lose sight of what else is important here, your cats and dogs need to be spayed. Do it now. Do it for the benefit of the animals, the environment and the world. Wild cats are a worldwide problem and if your animal isn't spayed, you are contributing to this problem, regardless of your excuse. If you need reasons to spay/neuter, you can find more than you have time to read on the internet. You will find reasons to forget your excuses. Until the world only has the number of cats and dogs that there are homes for, very few cats and dogs should be breeding, for any reason.

If you spay/neuter your animals voluntarily, there won't be a need for a law that requires you to pay higher licencing fees, higher fees to get your animals out of the pound and most importantly a law that will give the sometimes barbaric animal control staff reasons to work against animal owners and the people who are caring for cat colonies and are doing rescue work. Don't forget, most bills are initially written just to win over the voters. Once them are implemented, there is no end to how they can be manipulated and re-written without voters even realizing it.


Posted by Lindsay Cuff, a resident of San Ramon,
on Sep 5, 2010 at 6:59 am

Abram Wilson is a devote REPUBLICAN. It should be noted that ever since the inception of mandatory spay/neuter bills (AB 1634 and SB 250) NO REPUBLICAN has voted in favor. It is easy for an opponent of Buchanan to say publically that "it's a no brainer" but when it comes down to the voting, Wilson would have in no short means, voted against SB 250 as did ALL of the House and Senate REPUBLICANS. I applaud Assemblywoman Buchanan for sticking to her convictions about using punitive measures such as a mandated surgical procedure for minor infractions. I have a friend in Riverside where mandatory spay/neuter is used just like SB 250 would have been. Her champion intact parson russell terrier got out ONCE because of a faulty gate. After getting him back from the shelter, she has received a REQUIRED NEUTER CITATION. She must either neuter this handsome, intelligent dog or surrender him to the shelter. She has no other choice. In SB 250, if she receives just one more infraction over the course of her personal life, SHE WOULD HAVE NEVER BEEN ALLOWED TO OWN AN INTACT PET EVER. These are severe consequences and ones that should not be handed out lightly without evidence that this owner truly is not responsible. Two minor infractions, even something like not having tags on your dogs' collars, would have set SB 250 into motion.

Let's look at the real issues with shelter populations (that have decreased steadily over the decade) like Calgary's model of animal services and education rather than "hitting a flea with a hammer" one-size fits all approaches. There was more to SB 250 than what this reporter states. We all need to be responsible owners, but let's work with people rather than putting the fear of government and neighbors. Look at Santa Cruz and Los Angeles where SB 250 style ordinances have been in place-- these two areas have the HIGHEST RATE OF EUTHANASIA in the State because they have higher numbers of surrenders and feral cat turn ins. Look at all the facts and statistics before hitting Buchanan for understanding the BIG PICTURE and remember, Wilson would have voted "no" as well.

Posted by Cathie, a resident of another community,
on Sep 5, 2010 at 7:37 am

Actually AM Buchanen is a friend to animals. In every place there is mandatory spay and neuter we see that the rate of dogs surrendered increases and euthanasia increases and shelter costs increase. One has only to look at Santa Cruz, Lake County and Los Angeles. Los Angeles "enjoyed" a 25% increase in killing of dogs alone after passing MSN - and the Los Angeles law was brought to the City by Judie Mancuso.
Buchanen also took note the the fact that there were not exemptions for service dog puppy raisers. Search and rescue dogs were in violation whether actually on a search or training.
The non-dog lovers were the minority in the Assembly who voted for a bill to increase costs and deaths; the dog lovers voted NO.

Posted by Laura Sanborn, a resident of another community,
on Sep 5, 2010 at 8:45 am

Joan Buchanan is a good friend of animals. A hallmark of Joan Buchanan's service is that she has always cut through the rhetoric and bases her positions on a careful examination of the facts. In the case of SB 250, the rhetoric from supporters falls apart when the facts have demonstrated again and again that mandatory spay-neuter laws end up backfiring and killing more dogs and cats.

Most who do not spay or neuter their pets want to do so but cannot afford the cost of surgery. There are not nearly enough low cost or free spay-neuter services to cover the need.

When they are cited for having an "illegal" intact dog or cat, low-income pet owners often have no choice but to relinquish their pet to animal control. So a law that starts out with the intention of saving animals ends up becoming a vehicle to confiscate beloved companions from families, where they often end up being killed in shelters. Shelter killing and associated costs end up increasing when these laws pass.

Los Angeles saw shelter killing soar by 25% for dogs after passing a spay-neuter law advocated by the Judie Mancuso and other supporters of SB 250. Fifteen years after passing mandatory spay-neuter, Santa Cruz County has higher per capita shelter kill rates than other counties in the region, including Contra Costa and Alameda Counties -- Joan Buchanan's district. Santa Cruz County also has per capita animal services costs that are 74% higher than the statewide average -- mandatory spay-neuter is expensive.

Joan Buchanan's NO vote on SB 250 was a vote to save the lives of countless animals from an ill-conceived measure that ends up killing more dogs and cats.

Posted by Angela Niles, a resident of another community,
on Sep 5, 2010 at 11:56 am

I am a constituent of Joan Buchanan and I congratulate and applaud her no vote on SB250. I applaud her and her staff for reading the bill rather than listen to rhetoric and someone else?s boiled down summary. I also applaud her understanding of how this bill, in conjunction with local laws and ordinances, could adversely impact her constituents and their pets and working dogs. She was not fooled by the sugary name of SB250 or the hyperbole. She read and understood the contents. Proponents like to say that this bill only affects 'irresponsible' owners whose dogs violate roaming, leash and licensing laws. Joan and her staff understood, because they read and understood the text within the bill, that many of her ordinary good citizens could be inadvertently classified as irresponsible by the language of the bill. For example: Do you use a flexilead while walking your dog? If so, when the lead is extended beyond 6 feet, then you are in violation of almost all local leash ordinances in within Alameda county and would have been subject to the mandatory sterilization penalty of this bill. Another example: virtually all K-9 search and rescue personnel?s dogs would be subject to the mandatory spay and neuter penalty of this bill during actual searches as well as during trainings. I am such a K-9 SAR volunteer and my dog and I were one of over 200 rescuers who searched for Sandra Cantu, the young girl from Tracy, who was murdered and her body found in a suitcase in a pond. My dog and I had been given search areas that contained sloughs and ponds as well as heavy cover. For the protection of my dog against drowning and strangulation hazards, I removed his collar. As a cadaver and area certified search dog, he works off leash. In doing so I put him in violation of two of the City of Tracy's laws (the City of Tracy?s animal ordinances makes no allowance for SAR dogs ? nor do most city and county animal ordinances): 1)he was in violation of a leash law and 2) he was not wearing his collar with his license tag. According to SB250, I was an 'irresponsible' owner and the penalty of surgically castrating my dog and never, for the rest of my life, allowing me to own another intact dog again was a suitable penalty for volunteering my time and my specially trained dog to aid in the solving of this horrible murder. That is what SB250 dictates. Read the bill. Joan did. Our organization, along with other organizations, contacted the authors with this and other failings in the bill and we received no response. Over the life of this bill the authors did not once include the real stakeholders who would be damaged when crafting amendments. Not once. Didn?t even return phone calls. The proponents turned their backs on us and continually character assassinated us calling us liars, greedy breeders and various types of scofflaws. Joan is aware of this.
Joan Buchanan is also aware that laws with overly harsh penalties like mandatory spay and neuter unfairly target lower income families who have to make the nightmarish decision of whether to relinquish their unlicensed pet to a shelter or to put food on their table. Joan Buchanan knows that laws like SB250 do not lower shelter numbers and often have the horrific result of increasing them. She knows this because she has seen and understood the shelter statistics reported to the CA State Dept of Health Services, as required by law. She has seen and understood that the disastrous +30% increase in dog and cat euthanasias that rocked the Los Angeles Animal Services shelters the year immediately following the passage of their mandatory spay and neuter law was due primarily to that law and not the failing economy. She knows this because she has also seen the euthanasia numbers for surrounding areas and counties that were hit harder than LA by the economic meltdown that did not show anywhere near the increase of LAAS.
Finally, and most importantly for the saving of the lives of animals, Joan Buchanan understands that cities and counties that have extremely low shelter numbers and high adoption rates have a universal commonality that would be impossible with the passage of SB250. That commonality is that in those areas all of the various dog and cat groups: rescues, purebred rescues, breeders, trainers, clubs, etc. are all active resources available to shelters and they all offer their areas of expertise and participate in the efforts to rehabilitate, rescue, retrain, and rehome animals in order to save their lives and get them adopted into permanent homes. In these cities and counties great efforts have been made to stop the character assassination and finger pointing that drives wedges between groups and then to patch those wounds so that those groups can begin to work together to save lives. Joan Buchanan understands that this final piece would be impossible under SB250. Thank you Joan for your reading comprehension and your critical thinking and problem solving skills. Finally, thank you Joan Buchanan for your no vote on SB250.

Posted by Lynn, a resident of another community,
on Sep 5, 2010 at 1:06 pm

The Goal of all "Animal Rights" sponsored bills is to strip people of the right to own animals,and instead replace that right with a mere "guardian" status that places the Court System and Laws paramount and superior to "actual" ownership.SB250,with NO Funding in Place for State-wide Low-Cost and Subsidized Spay-Neuter,was a typical "cart before the horse" short-sighted heavy-handed and fiscally disastrous Bill,with no thought or even grasp of it's actual effect(s) on animals/ and those that own them.
Not surprisingly,neither the Presidents of PETA or HSUS-(the two wealthiest and lawyer-saturated "Animal Rights" groups in the USA that push politicians like Ms. Mancuso to host ill-fated Bills like SB250) own any animals!
Killing more pets,removing pets from homes,and punishing Breeders is the not-so hidden AGENDA of these Groups.Assuming that animal owners and breeders are criminals to begin with,reflected in draconian penalties,NO funding for Low-Cost Spay/Neuter, and onerous fines built in-resulting in escalating kill rates in shelters due to surrendered pets/ and unclaimed pets- is WHY SB250 failed.
Thank You , Joan Buchanan for standing up for common sense, and your constituents' rights,and-importantly- their animals' welfare.
The more votes-four per day-taken on the closing days of this bad legislation,the more NO votes came in.Ms. Mancuso is 0-4 now on her Agenda. Now the AR media machine is trying to paint the majority voters in the Assembly( who rightly euthenised this Bad Bill) as "NOT friends of animals". Statistically raising euthenasia rates, punishing the poor and unemployed, AND responsible animal professionals,while having no infrastructure in place for compliance are the reasons SB250 failed...

Posted by hermine, a resident of another community,
on Sep 5, 2010 at 1:44 pm

Anyone who wants to make laws which make it almost impossible to own an animal and to breed that animal is living in a country without the Constitution and Bill of Rights of THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA. Mancuso and her ilk lie about statistics and just about everything else concerting animals. She has all but robbed the simple innocent pleasure of owning a pet from millions of people, many of them children whose bonding with animals is a wonderful foundation for a compassionate life. she can call her organization "Social Compassion" but remember "National Socialism" had an acronym and that acronysn was NAZI.

Posted by Roz Rogoff, the San Ramon Observer,
on Sep 5, 2010 at 8:54 pm

Roz Rogoff is a registered user.

I contacted Judie Mancuso for her answer to some of these questions. Here is her reply:

Hi Roz,
It just goes to show you that they have no idea what the bill really did. There is no need for exemptions, the bill simply stated that if your dog was picked up at large or impounded and was unlicensed and unaltered it would be subject to spay and neuter. I cannot imagine their expensive search and rescue dogs are unlicensed. If that was the case, there was an appeals process in the bill, and I'm sure animal control would work with them. Thanks for taking a stand and submitted a commentary.

So I looked up SB250 and here's my abbreviated summary of the important points. Most of what is in this bill adds to existing laws. There are already laws requiring licensing of dogs with a reduced rate for dogs that are sterilized.

1. EXISTING law already provides for a reduced license fee for dogs that are spayed or neutered. Dogs that are not pay 50% or more for a license. License fees are set at the local or regional level by a city, country, or shelter.

2. Older dogs or animals that could be at risk from the surgery are exempt from being sterilized. Also the requirement to sterilize a dog may be appealed.

2. Fines of $35 (once), $50 (twice), and $100 (third time) for an unaltered and UNLICENSED dog running lose would be in addition to local fines already in place by a city, county, or shelter.

3. An unsterilized cat allowed to roam at large would be required to be sterilized.

4. Anyone selling, trading, or putting up for adoption an unaltered dog or cat, must tell the person who is getting the animal about sterilization requirements, or the person transferring the animal could be fined.

5. This bill exempts owners, breeders, and trainers of dogs used for farming, herding, hunting, police, firefighting, service, or guide dogs as long as they are properly licensed.

For those of you who want to read the complete bill and proposed state law, here's a link: Web Link

Posted by Laura Sanborn, a resident of another community,
on Sep 5, 2010 at 9:29 pm

Yes, please read the text of SB 250. Because despite the denials coming from supporters, SB 250 clearly DOES apply to licensed dogs.

SECTION 1. 30804.6 (b) of SB 250 reads:

(b) The licensing agency shall utilize its existing procedures or
may establish procedures for the denial or revocation of an
unaltered dog license and may deny or revoke a license for one or more of the following reasons:
(1) The owner, custodian, applicant or licensee is not in
compliance with all of the requirements of this section.
(2) The owner, custodian, applicant, or licensee has violated a
state law, or a city, county, or other local governmental provision
relating to the care and control of animals.
(3) Any unaltered dog license held by the applicant has been
revoked for violating a state law, or a city, county, or other local
government provision relating to the care or control of animals.
(4) The license application is discovered to contain a material
misrepresentation or omission of fact.
(5) In any case in which the owner or custodian of a dog with
an unaltered dog license is cited for permitting the dog to roam at
large, the license of the dog shall not be subject to revocation for
a first violation, if at the time the dog roams at large the dog
possesses a current license pursuant to Section 30801, Section
121690 of the Health and Safety Code, or as required by the local
licensing agency.

So this section empowers agencies to "revoke" unaltered dog licenses and "deny" them in the future on account of even the most minor infraction of animal control law.

This means that if a licensed dog is being walked on a leash that extends out more than 6 feet in length -- something forbidden in many local animal control ordinances -- the owner can have all of his unaltered dog licenses revoked, and denied in the future. Since dog licensing is mandatory under existing state law, the owner would not be allowed to own an intact dog ever again.

This means that if a licensed dog is not wearing its collar and the owner is cited for the dog not wearing its license or rabies tag, the owner may have the unaltered dog licenses revoked for all dogs he owns and also be forbidden from licensing any unaltered dogs ever again. Since dog licensing is mandatory under existing state law, the owner would not be allowed to own an intact dog ever again.

This means that if a the owner of a licensed dog is exercising and socializing his dog off leash in a park and fails to get his dog leashed up the minute off leash hours are over, the owner may have the unaltered dog licenses revoked for all dogs he owns and also be forbidden from licensing any unaltered dogs ever again. Since dog licensing is mandatory under existing state law, the owner would not be allowed to own an intact dog ever again.

SB 250 is mandatory spay-neuter for all dogs a person owns now and into the future due to minor infractions already subject to appropriate fines.

Forced sterilization is an excessive penalty, comparable to forbidding a person from registering a car due to a broken taillight.

Surgery is a medical procedure, not a punishment.

Likewise, organizations that breed and train guide dogs for blind and service dogs for the disabled, search-and-rescue organizations that save missing people, and associations of K9 law enforcement officers that protect public safety also read SB 250 -- and asked the California state legislature to vote against it.

Of the 78 members of the California state Assembly, 50 voted against SB 250. They read it, and saw it for what it is.

Posted by Laura Sanborn, a resident of another community,
on Sep 5, 2010 at 9:43 pm

As far as the "exemptions" for working dogs in SB 250, they are window dressing designed to get legislators to vote for SB 250. They are not designed to actually address the problems SB 250 creates for working dogs. Despite his repeated promises to do so, going as far back as Spring 2009, Senator Florez and his office refused to work with opponents to fix the serious problems that SB 250 would have created.

Before they become guide dogs for the blind, signal dogs for the deaf, or service dogs for the disabled ? or breeding dogs used to produce the future generation these dogs ? these dogs spend the first year of their lives unaltered and in the homes of volunteer puppy raisers. Puppy raisers are not legally the ?owner or trainer? and these dogs are not yet ?guide dogs, signal dogs, or service dogs?. While they are with puppy raisers, these dogs are not exempt from the provisions in SB 250.

Search-and-rescue dogs have no exemption at all in SB 250 despite Senator Florez's promise over year ago to the Assembly Appropriations Committee to exempt them. Search-and-rescue area search and cadaver dogs work and train off leash and without their collars for safety reasons. Many local ordinances make no exceptions for search-and-rescue dogs in their leash laws / at large laws or in their requirements that dogs wear their license or rabies tags. SB 250 increases penalties for search-and-rescue dog owners to include revocation or denial of unaltered dog licenses.

Before they become peace officer?s dogs for police service work, drug sniffing, or bomb sniffing, these dogs are in pet homes. Most of the time neither the dog owner nor anyone else has any idea he is raising a future law enforcement dog. These are dogs that may grow up into adults that are ?too much dog? for the pet owner to handle. If this happens the dogs are rehomed back to the breeder or other intermediary, and if suitable end up in being sold to law enforcement. But before this happens these dogs are subject to all of the same provisions in the law as any other pet. SB 250 does not have an exemption during that time, and cannot do so because no one ? not even the pet owner ? knows he is raising a future law enforcement dog. Dogs that are sterilized before they are 2 years of age rarely grow up to be suitable for police service work.

Most importantly, the breeding populations that produce the next generation of working dogs are largely unprotected from the provisions of SB 250. With or without exemptions for the working dogs themselves, or those owned by today?s breeders, there is no way to craft exemption language to protect the breeding populations required to supply future working dogs because a large percentage of future breeding dogs for work are not in the homes of today?s breeders or working dog handlers. They are not legally distinguishable from pet dogs.

Posted by Roz Rogoff, the San Ramon Observer,
on Sep 5, 2010 at 11:38 pm

Roz Rogoff is a registered user.


I appreciate your detailed analysis of this bill and that you used your real name so I could find out more about you. It seems that you are primarily interested in keeping certain breeds of male dogs intact.

I did not see anything on the Save Our Dogs website Web Link
against sterilizing cats. If another bill aimed at spaying and neutering cats was proposed would you and your group be as vocal against it? I suppose you'd claim it was a slippery slope with dogs to follow, but I'd really like to see the number of kittens born every summer and fall cut down, so that adult cats who need homes could all get them.

BTW Calgary isn't a good comparison to California. They're Canadians, and Canadians are so nice.


Posted by Angela Niles, a resident of another community,
on Sep 6, 2010 at 12:06 am

Judi played a game of equivocation with you, exchanging improperly licensed with unlicensed.

Tracy's municipal code section 5.08.130 (g) states:
License tags. A suitable tag shall be furnished by the City, at the expense of the City, to each owner who shall pay such license fee, which tag the owner shall attach and keep attached to a collar around the neck of such dog at all times. Such tag shall have legibly stamped thereon the registered number of the dog.

When I removed my dog's collar, complete with attached license tag, during the search for Sandra Cantu, my dog became improperly licensed and in violation of the City of Tracy's municipal animal code.

Tracy's municipal code section 5.08.130 (i) states:
Dogs not allowed at large. Such license shall entitle the owner of the dog for which such license is issued to keep such dog in the City during the term for which the license was issued; provided, however, such owner at all times shall keep such dog securely enclosed in a room, pen, or enclosure or shall keep such dog securely tethered or on a leash, and it shall be unlawful for any person at any time to have, own, or possess any dog within the City, whether the dog shall be licensed or not, unless such dog shall be kept so enclosed, tethered, or on a leash.

When I removed the leash from my dog in order to have him search slough and pond areas for Sandra Cantu, my dog became a roaming dog according to the City of Tracy's municipal animal code.

Under SB250 these two violations would make my SAR dog subject to the penalty of surgical castration. Under SB250 I would be subject to the penalty of having all of my unaltered dog licenses revoked. In order to continue to own my remaining dogs legally, I would need to castrate them and then purchase altered dog licenses. Under SB250 I would be subject to the penalty of being denied ever obtaining an unaltered license again making it impossible for me to legally own an unaltered dog, ever. Under SB250 I would be subject to the penalty of additional monetary fines.

Read and understand the bill. Read and understand the local laws.

Now I am curious. Is it correct, then, that you also agree with Judi that I should, as a volunteer with a specially trained SAR dog under the conditions described above and assisting authorities in a juvenile murder crime, have to go through an appeals process in order to possibly escape the penalties of SB250 (I may not win the appeals)? I wait with baited breath.

Posted by Roz Rogoff, the San Ramon Observer,
on Sep 6, 2010 at 12:28 am

Roz Rogoff is a registered user.


I doubt the city of Tracy would charge your dog with being unlicensed because you took off his collar during this search. I can't predict what local authorities would do in every situation, but that sounds like something guaranteed to make them look really bad in the media.

Laws often have several different interpretations and levels of enforcement. It sounds to me like you are interpreting the potential penalties of SB250 in the harshest possible light and that a community you are trying to help would punish you and your dog for violating it.

This seems like a very unlikely scenario to me. If you are that concerned about violating local laws, why not contact animal control before doing the search? As you said, this depends on knowing local laws. If the local officials are that petty, then don't offer to help them.

Posted by Laura Sanborn, a resident of another community,
on Sep 6, 2010 at 1:08 am

Roz wrote "Laura, I appreciate your detailed analysis of this bill and that you used your real name so I could find out more about you. It seems that you are primarily interested in keeping certain breeds of male dogs intact."

The purpose of Save Our Dogs is to advocate on behalf of working dogs in the legislative process.

Roz wrote: "I did not see anything on the Save Our Dogs website against sterilizing cats. If another bill aimed at spaying and neutering cats was proposed would you and your group be as vocal against it?"

Save Our Dogs is, as the name implies, about dogs. But we work with groups and individuals throughout the dog and cat communities. We are not going to throw cats under the SB 250 bus. The nation's leading advocate for the welfare of cats, Alley Cat Allies, opposes SB 250.
Web Link

Are you aware that after Judie Mancuso and Company got mandatory spay-neuter instituted in the City of Los Angeles, that shelter killing there soared even more for cats than it did for dogs?

Posted by Laura Sanborn, a resident of another community,
on Sep 6, 2010 at 1:29 am

Roz, I too am a volunteer search-and-rescue dog handler. FYI, search-and-rescue is an emergency, and most of the time we are paged out between 10 pm and 3 am. We often have to leave immediately. Nobody has time to check local ordinances pertaining to dogs when we drive through the night to reach a search location.

There are over 500 local jurisdictions in California, each of which can have their own local ordinances. Good luck keeping track of all the variations in animal control ordinances in over 500 jurisdictions.

I do not buy the idea that it's OK to pass an unreasonable, overreaching law but we should not worry that it would be administered as it says it should be. Sorry, but the simple answer is to not pass unreasonable, overreaching laws.

"You should not examine legislation in the light of the benefits it will convey if properly administered, but in the light of the wrongs it would do and the harm it would cause if improperly administered."
- Lyndon Johnson, 36th President of the United States

Posted by Angela Niles, a resident of another community,
on Sep 6, 2010 at 11:47 am

You avoided answering the question directly. SB250 was so broad that it puts large numbers of people and animals at risk that ought not to be. Is it correct and proper that the category of K-9 SAR volunteer and their dogs should subject to the penalties of this law? The issuance of a citation is irrelevant. I am still waiting with baited breath.

The issuance of a citation bears no relevance as to whether or not a law has been violated. A law is so poorly crafted that it DEPENDS upon unequal application is even worse. The affect on society by such laws encourages citizens to break laws if they think they won't get cited. It suggests to the authorizing agency that it is acceptable to discriminate when enforcing a law and that it is acceptable to apply a law arbitrarily and with no standard criteria. The justification you gave for this approach was essentially that there are so many poorly written laws in existence and arbitrary enforcement is so commonplace that it is perfectly acceptable to add one more poorly written law to the pile with the understanding that it will be ignored or selectively enforced however fairly or unfairly. I fundamentally disagree with that approach. It creates an environment ripe for corruption, abuse, discrimination and profiling. I oppose this approach because it erodes respect for the rule of law which is a cornerstone component in our society. It fractures society and can make the most efficient and effective solutions to problems impossible because groups critical to the solution may be on divided sides and unable to work together.

People who opposed SB250 for this reason were dutifully character assassinated by supporters as being 'no friend of animals', greedy breeders or other types of scofflaws.

There are many many people opposed to SB250 who are involved in the saving of animal's lives that are relentlessly attacked by supporters simply because they disagree that SB250 would achieve its stated goals. They do not think that it is the best and most efficient path. There are also people who would be of immense value in the saving of the lives of animals that are being driven away as a direct result of these attacks. MSN bills like SB250 commonly result in an increase in animal relinquishment because of their punitive penalties. And, their divisive nature drives away people who would like to help but don't dare because they've had their character assassinated.

People who opposed SB250 for this reason were dutifully character assassinated by supporters as being 'no friend of animals', greedy breeders or other types of scofflaws.

You did it yourself. You attacked Joan Buchanan as if SB250 was the singular solution to the stated problem. Well, she doesn't think that it is and neither did a total of 50 of the 78 Assemblymembers. And, neither do I. Your binary metric of anyone who opposes this piece of legislation as being 'no friend of animals' is false and unfair. What you really mean is that you want to damage her character because she did not share your view that SB250 was the best path to solve the stated problem.

The best animal control program, in terms of the highest licensing rates and the lowest per capita euthanasia rates is, without question, in Calgary, Canada. It was developed and is headed by Bill Bruce. I had the opportunity to spend a day with Bill escorting him through the Capital in 2009 to discuss the factors contributing to Calgary's success to several members of the Senate. I discussed the development and deployment of Calgary's program at length with him. It has a proven track record that kicks the pants off of anything posing as neural activity passing between the ears of Judie Mancuso. But, in order to begin implementing the strategies of this successful program, one must first defeat and prevent laws like SB250 from irreparably poisoning the environment of community trust and participation that are essential for Bill's program. Your comment that 'BTW Calgary isn't a good comparison to California. They're Canadians, and Canadians are so nice.' is bizarre at best if taken seriously and even if taken in jest continues to poison the water for Californians.

Amazingly, even people who opposed SB250 because they would like to see programs similar to Calgary's implemented here were dutifully character assassinated by supporters as being 'no friend of animals', greedy breeders or other types of scofflaws. The performance track record of Mancuso's one-trick-pony MSN legislative style has been fatally disastrous for both dogs and cats at LAAS. If the goal is truly high licensing and low euthanasia rates, then the Calgary model is a no-brainer. If the goal is something else, then all bets are off.

Web Link

* Santa Cruz County ? SB 250 supporters? ?model for the state? for mandatory spay/neuter ? kills 16 times as many animals as Calgary, per capita

* Los Angeles County ? one of the few counties in California with mandatory spay/neuter ? kills 22 times as many animals as Calgary, per capita

* Lake County ? also one of the few counties in California with mandatory spay/neuter ? kills 104 times as many animals as Calgary, per capita

Posted by Lynne Price, a resident of another community,
on Sep 6, 2010 at 11:50 am

I thank Joan Buchanan for recognizing that SB 250 was a bad bill.

Low cost spay/neuter clinics and information on responsible pet ownership are proven ways of reducing the number of unwanted animals that are produced. Laws such as SB 250 penalize responsible pet owners without lowering the number of animals surrendered to shelters.

I am a pet owner, not a breeder. I want my next dog to come from someone who has researched the breed in general, the parents of the puppies, and their relatives. Responsible breeders screen for genetic diseases, temperament, general health, and the characteristics that typify the breed. Every litter is produced to improve the breed, usually at a significant monetary loss. Responsible breeders socialize young animals, introducing them to people, other animals, and a variety of situations. They also encourage easy house breaking by keeping their animals in clean conditions.

Had SB 250 been made into law, virtually all responsible breeding would have been eliminated in California. Shelter populations would not have declined. People who acquire pets, tire of them, and then take them to shelters would not have been affected, nor would people who ignore existing law by habitually allowing intact animals to run loose. Feral cats would still have reproduced.

Posted by Roz Rogoff, the San Ramon Observer,
on Sep 6, 2010 at 12:08 pm

Roz Rogoff is a registered user.

I just received a phone call from Judie Mancuso challenging all of the claims presented by some of the posters in this blog. Judie wanted me to put a link to her website with what she calls "the correct data." Judie says that spay and neuter laws work where they have been adopted and the kill rates in shelters have gone down not up. Web Link

There are additional links at the top of the page to the numbers for Los Angeles, Lake County, and Santa Cruz.

So I still stand by my position that Joan Buchanan was influenced by special interests and not concern for the half-million dogs and cats being put to death every year in California.


Posted by Angela Niles, a resident of another community,
on Sep 6, 2010 at 12:20 pm

Fascinating. Now I have a second question for you. Still waiting for an answer to the first.

New question:
1) Name the area, town, city or county in North America that has the lowest per capita euthanasia rates for dogs.

Posted by Roz Rogoff, the San Ramon Observer,
on Sep 6, 2010 at 12:32 pm

Roz Rogoff is a registered user.

OK my comment about Canadians was facetious. I did not want to get sidetracked by getting into the differences between the two countries and populations, which are many.

Mancuso said that feral cats and roaming dogs cannot survive the freezing winters in Calgary, which is why the kill rates are so much lower than in California where animals left out doors survive all year round. That makes sense to me.


Posted by Roz Rogoff, the San Ramon Observer,
on Sep 6, 2010 at 12:52 pm

Roz Rogoff is a registered user.

Angela & Laura,

Since you are asking me questions with baited breath, here's one for you. If you are against any Spay and Neuter laws but want to help reduce pet overpopulation with education and support for voluntary spay and neuter, why don't you support Mancuso's CASpay license plate? That's not a law, it's an opportunity. It would help low income pet owners pay for sterilizing their animals, especially outdoor cats, and reduce the number of cats and kittens in feral colonies. This seems to be something you could all agree on.

By the way, your own Save Our Dogs website describes the penalties for picking up a stray dog in Calgary as, "Before the pet can be released to its owner, licensing requirements must be met and the owner is fined $250. Repeat offenders face penalties that increase in $250 increments per violation." That's a stronger penalty than in SB250, which is $35 for the first offense, and up to $100 for the third.


Posted by Angela Niles, a resident of another community,
on Sep 6, 2010 at 1:05 pm

How very interesting. 100% environmentally driven. So, program policies don't play into it at all? I suppose that one test of that hypothesis would be to look at shelter statistics in the period preceding Bill Bruce's reign to see what the baseline was when he took the helm. Should I contact him for that information? What if you and Judie don't like the answer?

One conversation that I had with Bill that was particularly fascinating to me was that he told me that when he was crafting an ordinance to address a particular problem, he would have a series of maps made of the city that contained specific demographic information, complaint information, citation information, etc. When an ordinance was implemented, he attached qualitative goals and pass/fail criteria to the ordinance and then used the maps to assess the performance of the ordinance. The purpose of that was so that he could quantify the success or failing of an ordinance and make useful changes. I was impressed and I strongly suspect that he can provide real data that shows impounds and euthanasia rates were much higher in the years that preceded him.

You have become a medium of sorts.

What is Judie Mancuso's explanation of the difference in licensing rates between Calgary and California?

You still have not answered my first question and I've piggy backed more on top.

Posted by Angela Niles, a resident of another community,
on Sep 6, 2010 at 1:21 pm

I participate in numerous volunteer programs. Some include helping animals. Some are for other things. I have been volunteering for various things since the 1960's - a very long time. There are only so many hours in the day and I have to decide how to spend them. I have not supported Mancuso's CAspay license plate because I know nothing about the program. Haven't looked into it. Remember the bit about driving people away who could be really helpful to your cause because you've demonized them for having a different perspective than you? Judie's antics over the last four years have driven me away from her.

Posted by Angela Niles, a resident of another community,
on Sep 6, 2010 at 1:46 pm

You still have not answered my first question. You have expended far more energy exhibiting avoidance behavior than it would have taken to simply answer the question. You also rely heavily on Judie Mancuso to answer for you when you do respond. Nor have you provided the name of the area, town, city, county, whatever with the lowest per capita euthanasia rates in North America. You are avoiding that by attempting to marginalize Calgary. If you wish to state someplace other than Calgary, that is fine by me. Just curious to see what you consider to be good numbers.

Posted by Roz Rogoff, the San Ramon Observer,
on Sep 6, 2010 at 1:46 pm

Roz Rogoff is a registered user.


It sounds like there's demonization going on by both sides. Here's the information on CASpay license plates. Web Link

I hope you will put a link to it on your websites, because you are clearly very articulate and passionate about your beliefs and have many followers.

I have to go back and re-read your original questions to see what I left unanswered, but the success in Calgary appears to be based on very stiff penalties for unlicensed animals that are picked up. The major difference between that and SB250 is that the penalty isn't based on whether the dog or cat is neutered, and you consider that a better law.


Posted by Laura Sanborn, a resident of another community,
on Sep 6, 2010 at 2:22 pm

Roz, earlier this year I sent out over 800 emails to humane societies, SPCAs, rescue groups, and public shelters asking them to them to help spread the good word about the Municipal Shelter Spay-Neuter Fund. I attached a flyer that we made for these groups to distribute to the public.

The Municipal Shelter Spay-Neuter Fund was sponsored in 2008 by my partner organization Concerned Dog Owners of California, through Assembly Bill 2291 (Mendoza). It was supported by the ASPCA, State Humane Association of California, and a large number of the groups that have opposed mandatory spay-neuter.

This fund generates money for low cost and free voluntary s/n services through "checkoff box" voluntary donations on our California income tax forms. So the fund uses no taxpayer money.

Judie Mancuso and her Social Compassion in Legislation did not support AB 2291.

I hope that next year during tax time you help to spread the word about the Municipal Shelter Spay-Neuter Fund.

Posted by Laura Sanborn, a resident of another community,
on Sep 6, 2010 at 3:05 pm

For two years, Judie Mancuso has been tossing out accusations disputing the statistical evdience we have generated showing that mandatory spay-neuter laws backfire and increase shelter killing and costs.

Two years later she has still not presented a shred of statistical evidence to back up her accusation.

I stand by our work. This is not rocket science. It's simple to verify if you wish to learn the truth, because we provide the official government sources of the information used, official sources that are are all available on the Internet.

I have seen the content of Judie Mancuso's website. She has no statistical evidence to back up her claims that Santa Cruz County, City of Los Angeles, or Lake County MSN have been successes. She has throwaway lines from unnamed officials. Not statistical evidence.

Since we called her out for publicizing fabricated-from-whole-cloth Santa Cruz County shelter numbers in 2007, she has refrained from publishing shelter statistics, knowing that we will double check.

Judie Mancuso also references the Santa Cruz SPCA, a private group that is NOT Santa Cruz County Animal Services. The valid comparisons to make are the open admission public shelters such as Santa Cruz County Animal Services, which has submitted their shelter statistics to the California Dept. of Public Health as required by state law. It is from CDPH that we got the stats -- verified against original documents on record with the Santa Cruz County clerk.

A number of years ago, the Santa Cruz SPCA had the contract with Santa Cruz County to provide county animal services. But the Santa Cruz Sentinel reported that the Santa Cruz SPCA lost the contract under accusations of fiscal mismanagement.
Web Link

Posted by Laura Sanborn, a resident of another community,
on Sep 6, 2010 at 3:49 pm

Roz, I know you care deeply about animal welfare issues. That is very clear. I strongly encourage you to contact Bill Bruce, Director of Calgary Animal Services, to learn more about what made Calgary's animal control "the envy of the continent".

I was privileged to attend two different Bill Bruce seminars and then spend a day touring legislators' offices in the California state Capital early this year.

You can view a Bill Bruce seminar here
Web Link

As Bill Bruce has said repeatedly, Calgary's success is largely based on voluntary compliance. That's because voluntary compliance works better, and because enforcement is too expensive.

Calgary's success is not based on stiff fines. While they have them, according to Bruce they "very rarely" impose the fines. They issue repeated warnings if necessary to get people to comply, and waive the fines if pet owners comply to the warnings.

As Bruce says, the fines and penalties are for the 5% of the population who don't do the right thing. He says the other 95% of pet owners are responsible and that voluntary compliance -- through the carrot not the stick -- works with them.

More importantly, it is Bill Bruce's innovative positive programs, effective PR, education of school children, drastic reduction in dog bite incidents, 100+ dog parks, drop-off at home of dogs and cats picked up stray, community partnerships, modern state-of-the-art shelter, low cost s/n services and other programs offered by Calgary Animal Services has that caused voluntary compliance there to skyrocket. Every program Calgary Animal Services has is funded by pet licenses -- they don't get a dime from the taxpayers.

Calgary has no mandatory spay-neuter, no breed specific legislation, and no pet limit laws.

Bill Bruce is a mediator by training, and his programs are based on bringing stakeholders in the community together to work cooperatively toward common goals. It is the exact opposite of Judie Mancuso's strategy which is to based on spreading hatred and misinformation, and driving deep wedges between the community of animal lovers. And that's what this article and the comments here are Roz, we are the community of animal lovers -- split thanks to Judie Mancuso.

Calgary has the highest live release rate for dogs of any municipality we have seen data for, mainly because it is based on return to owner and less so on adoptions. Many dogs picked up stray in Calgary never set foot in a shelter, the ACO calls the owner and drives the dog straight home. That's the sort of thing that becomes possible when dog licensing compliance approaches 95%.

Try to imagine this, when they started licensing cats a few years ago, the stampede of cat owners applying for online cat licenses was so great that it crashed the City of Calgary's webserver. Cat owners wanted the services that dog owners receive through licensing. And it was well known that cat licensing income would pay for Calgary's new s/n clinic.

In California, licensing compliance is very low (10-30%) and has been dropping over time. An increasing number of California pet owners have come to fear living in a state under assault by Draconian differential license fees, mandatory spay-neuter ordinances locally, hyper-controversial mandatory spay-neuter legislation in the state Capitol, unreasonably low pet limits, unreasonable restrictions on breeding, and character assassination of those who try to stop the madness.

Posted by Steven, a resident of another community,
on Sep 6, 2010 at 4:22 pm

The people who are vocal against SB 250, including those commenting on this blog, 95% share the same trait... they breed animals for profit or for show. The same tired names and tired comments show up each time mandatory spay and neuter comes up.
I am in animal control and have worked in two communities where some variation of mandatory spay and neuter was implemented; in both places we saw a marked increase in people taking advantage of spay programs after the law was in place, and in both places saw positive results not only in our intake vs. euth numbers but in community attitudes about caring properly for their pets.
I am tired of animal breeders posing as animal patrons and spreading garbage. SB 250 was a simple, very reasonable bill and did not at all match the ridiculous lies posted about it. To all true animal lovers, please join us in moving towards no kill in the only way that it is truly possible, by cutting down on the births. There are simply too many animals (WAY too many) for the available homes.

North Cal

Posted by Angela Niles, a resident of another community,
on Sep 6, 2010 at 4:44 pm

Here ya go Roz!


'The people who are vocal against SB 250, including those commenting on this blog, 95% share the same trait... they breed animals for profit or for show. The same tired names and tired comments show up each time mandatory spay and neuter comes up.'

I've just had the pleasure of being the recipient of an Ad Hominum Abusive attack. Again.

Nope. Never bred a dog in my life. Don't Show dogs. Don't sell dogs.

Well hello Steve!
For which municipality do you work in animal control now and for which two areas that have MSN are you referring. I have on my computer 1) scanned and notarized copies of the state reported shelter statistics for all counties in California from the CDHS-VPHS dating back through the 1990's and 2)scanned copies of the original documents submitted by the individual shelters to the local animal control services and submitted to the CDHS-VPHS and verified against County Clerk's records for some counties and 3)annual CA state aggregate shelter data going back to 1970.

I can help you to be more specific in your claim! I can give you numbers and percentages on exactly how your areas performed in the years before and after passage of you MSN ordinances! I can compare your area to surrounding, adjacent and demographically similar areas that do not have the same ordinances in place so your story can stand out in all of its glory! Then you can step away from these broad brush unsupported sound bites and talk real numbers!

How about it Steve? Which areas are we talking about and when?

Posted by Laura Sanborn, a resident of another community,
on Sep 6, 2010 at 5:25 pm

Roz wrote "Mancuso said that feral cats and roaming dogs cannot survive the freezing winters in Calgary, which is why the kill rates are so much lower than in California where animals left out doors survive all year round. That makes sense to me."

Who to believe?
Southern California resident Judie Mancuso?
Or Bill Bruce, Director of Animal Services for the City of Calgary?

Judie says Calgary doesn't have feral cats or roaming dogs.

Bill Bruce says Calgary does have roaming dogs because his Animal Services picks up several thousand roaming dogs a year.

And Bill Bruce says that Calgary does have feral cat colonies and they do make it through the winter. Like Judie, I had assumed otherwise. We were both wrong on that point ;-)

Posted by Laura Sanborn, a resident of another community,
on Sep 6, 2010 at 5:39 pm

Steven wrote "The people who are vocal against SB 250, including those commenting on this blog, 95% share the same trait... they breed animals for profit or for show. The same tired names and tired comments show up each time mandatory spay and neuter comes up."

No Steven, that accusation as well as Mancuso's accusation labeling us "underground dog breeders and puppy millers" are pure and simple lies. They are actually libel.

I've never bred or shown any animal.

I have never made a penny in income (let alone profit) off of any animal.

I have spent thousands of dollars of my money as a volunteer search-and-rescue dog handler.

My husband and I have spent thousands of dollars of our money supporting rescue, including 3 un-reimbursed trips he made to Montana last year as a behavioral expert to help dogs seized from an abusive hoarder. We have fostered and adopted rescue and shelter dogs.

Posted by Roz Rogoff, the San Ramon Observer,
on Sep 6, 2010 at 6:43 pm

Roz Rogoff is a registered user.

Angela & Laura,

I don't know all the details about which groups opposed SB250, but many of them were breeders. That doesn't mean you or others who opposed SB250 are breeders. Steve's comment may be an over generalization, but the list of organizations that visited Calgary in 2009 are dog show and breeder groups: California Federation of Dogs Clubs (CFoDC), Orange Empire Kennel Club, Silver Bay Kennel Club and assisted by The Kennel Club of Palm Springs

I know you and Judie Mancuso are on opposite sides of this issue, but I believe you all want the same thing -- to reduce kill rates at shelters. You just want to go about it in different ways.

Steve and Judie see these sad results of pet overpopulation at shelters every day. They are looking for a way to stop it. Yes, personal responsibility is always better than passing laws, but as Judie said, "Some people need a nudge to do the right thing." Whether that nudge is a high penalty for having an unlicensed dog running lose, or the threat of sterilization for having an unlicensed and unsterilized dog running lose, one or the other appears to be needed to solve this problem.

You say that Bill Bruce rarely imposes the high penalties and works it out with the owners, but you fear that any California city in which you offer to help with search and rescue would not be nearly as accommodating. Are you saying Canadians are nicer?


Posted by Laura Sanborn, a resident of another community,
on Sep 6, 2010 at 7:25 pm

Roz, Calgary doesn't have mandatory spay-neuter. Bill Bruce uses an example of waiving fines for pet owners who didn't license their pets, and who do so when they receive a reminder warning from Calgary Animal Services. But more generally, Bill Bruce has metrics for success, and one of them is that they want the number of citations issued by Calgary Animal Services to go DOWN over time. Watch the video I linked to previously, this will become more clear.

I wouldn't say that Canadians are nicer than Californians. After all, Ontario has a total ban on pit bull breeds, something that is illegal under California state law.

I would say that Californians who spread lies that those who oppose their SB 250 are "greedy breeders" or "underground dog breeders and puppy millers" have been consumed by hate.

Yes, dog federations and kennel clubs have been the ones that have brought Bill Bruce here so that Californians can learn about one of the most successful animal welfare programs in North America. By the way, are you aware that most people who belong to these clubs are not breeders? I belong to two dog breed clubs and have never bred anything. Probably 90% of the members of these breed clubs are not breeders.

SB 250 is not a nudge. It is a sledgehammer that has driven a huge wedge within the community of animal lovers, has damaged the community stakeholder cooperation and mutual respect that is required to achieve lifesaving success, and has poisoned the well to get truly progressive dog legislation passed in Sacramento.

Posted by Angela Niles, a resident of another community,
on Sep 6, 2010 at 11:24 pm

You said:
'I don't know all the details about which groups opposed SB250, but many of them were breeders.'

The above sentence is a character assassination of the opposition. Since you admitted to not knowing the details of the groups, then how can you possibly know whether none, a few, some, many, most or all of the members of the groups are breeders? For reasons that only you know, you decided on the word many but what if in reality it is only a few?

I point this out to you because I am firmly convinced that the most productive, direct and efficient path to reducing shelter deaths lies in all of the stakeholders of the animal community working together. I am firmly convinced that taking pot shots at people with opposing views results in the death of animals because the character assassination drives people away that otherwise would have stayed to help save lives if you had only been a little less critical.

Bill Bruce told me that he worked very hard to minimize the hostilities between the various factions. He had to get rid of people who continually poisoned the well through finger pointing and character assassination. It takes a long time to repair such damage. Even with a background in conflict resolution it took Bill Bruce roughly 10 years before the animosity between the various groups fell to a low enough level to where they started to work well together. Eventually he was able to build teams of people with valuable skills and knowledge that did not share the same ideologies but who were strongly goal oriented towards reducing shelter intakes and euthanasia. He felt that if that was the true goal, even people with differing ideologies could work together towards a pragmatic solution. The ones with a different agenda would eventually show their true colors and not survive.

Over time he has accrued a list of over 500 contacts including breeders, vets, behaviorists, trainers, breed clubs, dog sport clubs, rescues, etc and he uses them constantly. If a litter of pups are brought in that are not quite weaned, he calls breeders to see if he can find a foster dam. If a certain breed of dog comes in with a certain behavior, he calls trainers that specialize in that breed to help evaluate and work with the dog. These groups all work with the various rescues. Bill Bruce eliminated limit laws. By doing that he vastly increased the number of available foster homes. Go to Judie Mancuso's website. It opens with a video of a woman telling a story about killing unweaned puppies. Make no mistake, those puppies died because the people who were most qualified to help and save them, breeders, have been so heavily vilified that they were driven away. Those puppies would not have died in Calgary. Bill would have found a foster home or two with a nursing dam.

When Bill first started his program, he waived the first two years of license fees for dogs i.e. he gave the tags out for free. There were no penalties for unlicensed dogs. He heavily marketed that a licensed dog would get driven home if found at large on the street. He marketed that a licensed dog would not get destroyed or adopted out if it entered a shelter. Eventually he enacted a penalty for unlicensed dogs.. but not until Calgary's licensing rate was already enviably high. He did things to strengthen the bond between people and their pets such as increasing the number of dog parks (Calgary has over 100 dog parks!). He worked hard to remove the stigma between animal control and the public and sold animal control as a service - not an adversary. He told me that he limits enforcement costs to 5% of his budget because while enforcement is necessary for a very small percentage of pet owners, it is expensive, inefficient and always runs in the red. He secured sponsorship from a franchise hardware store to provide fence and building materials to homes that had licensed dogs that repeatedly escaped from yards. Bill recognized that the many languages and dialects resulting from the high Asian immigrant population posed a problem in communicating pet responsibility and care in some first time pet homes. He decided that the most efficient way to work with those families was through educating their children. So, he hired a full time credentialed teacher to work with elementary schools to teach children how to responsibly care for pets. When the kids go home, they pass what they learned to their parents. He has no cost spay and neuter program for eligible residents. He has pet socialization programs. They fund vet clinics for emergency stray dog and cat care. He developed a campaign to outline and promote Principals of Responsible Pet Ownership. All covered by the revenue generated through voluntary licensing compliance. And, he has a reward card with sponsors and a discount program to reward people who license their pets.

Web Link
Web Link
Web Link
Web Link

For this effort, Calgary has the highest return-to-owner and lowest euthanasia rates on the continent. It also has a licensing compliance rate of over 90%. Revenues generated by licensing pay for everything meaning no taxpayer $$$ are needed or used. Bill Bruce's program approach emphasizes teaching and rewarding good behavior.

I have a dare for you. Contact Bill Bruce and find out for yourself, not through the filter of Judie Mancuso, details about his program and how it performs. Then write a new article that does not character assassinate anybody but instead begins the process of bringing all of the community of animal lovers together to work on lowering shelter impounds and euthanasias. I double dare you.

Posted by Roz Rogoff, the San Ramon Observer,
on Sep 7, 2010 at 1:29 am

Roz Rogoff is a registered user.


Calling many of the opponents breeders isn't "character assassination" unless you believe that all breeders have bad characters. There are good, caring, concerned breeders, and there are the "puppy mill" breeders who have bad reputations. I didn't say all opponents, or all breeders, or everyone against SB250 are puppy mill breeders. So who's taking potshots?

You said, "Go to Judie Mancuso's website. It opens with a video of a woman telling a story about killing unweaned puppies. Make no mistake, those puppies died because the people who were most qualified to help and save them, breeders, have been so heavily vilified that they were driven away."

I have seen that video and the shelter worker said they had no fosters to take them. If breeders want to help they could volunteer to be fosters for bottle babies. They can join a rescue group or start their own rescue groups, and work with shelters. No one is stopping them. They would not be vilified if they offered to foster abandoned puppies.

Judie has seen how many puppies and kittens are put to death in shelters. If you are willing to see how bad it is, contact Judie and you will see why she's doing what she's doing it. I can put you in touch with one of our volunteers at the Martinez shelter. She can show you why we supported SB250.

You have found one person in another country who has been successful in reducing the need to kill stray and unwanted pets. I watched part of the video of his class, and that's a good start to get more local agencies to do what he's doing, but that's a piecemeal approach. California is a big, diversified state. Calgary is a medium-size city in a country with a very different political system and population. One size does not fit all.


Posted by Laura Sanborn, a resident of another community,
on Sep 7, 2010 at 3:17 am

Just back from a search in Marin County. As I wrote above, SAR callouts typically happen between 10 pm and 3 am. ;-)

Roz, it's truly sad that you are so wedded to failure that you cannot see successes like Calgary for what they are -- examples to study, learn from, and emulate. Instead, knowing next to nothing about them, you marginalize and dismiss them.

Calgary is a city of 1 million (hardly "medium sized") that stopped killing dogs for population control, has the highest return to owner rate for stray dogs on the continent, built a state of the art shelter and s/n clinic and over 100 dog parks -- all from pet licensing fees and nothing from the taxpayers.

Washoe County, NV stopped killing dogs for population control, even though they have per capita shelter intake rates twice as high as the California statewide average.

Charlottesville, VA and Tompkins County NY also stopped killing dogs for population control

Albany, Berkeley, Emeryville, and Piedmont haven't had to kill a dog or cat for population control since 2002. And yet at one time, not that long ago, they killed dogs and cats at per capita rates similar to those in our own Contra Costa County.

These programs are in different regions of North America. They have different cultures, different political systems, and different demographics. But they have key things in common.

They all had a vision to collaboratively and respectfully engage all of the stakeholders in their community with volunteer programs, foster programs, low cost or free s/n, behavioral rehab, adoption outreach and more.

All of them stopped the culture of vilification and blame.

All of them stopped trying to solve their problems by punishing their community into compliance.

And all of them stopped saying success isn't possible here because we are different in X, Y, and Z ways. Instead, they made it happen. The naysayers had to go.

Posted by Angela Niles, a resident of another community,
on Sep 7, 2010 at 11:20 am

The word breeder as a descriptor for the opposition has been used as an Ad Hominum by AB1634 and SB250 supporters for four years now. Breeders have been loudly accused of over breeding and indiscriminate breeding and this has been marketed by proponents as direct causes for shelter issues. To assign false membership of people to such a group is to character assassinate them. To point out that I observed it is not an Ad Hominum.

I no longer wish to discuss the negative.

I agree with Laura's earlier statement that we are the animal loving community but that we have become deeply divided. As a fist step towards bridging the divide, I suggest that we find some common ground in the form of agreeing on some positive action that can be easily and inexpensively administered that we all think would have some positive impact on shelter numbers.

I gave a great many examples of things that I thought were very clever from the Calgary model. I will present my suggestions and make them available for comment. If one of them grabs you, say so, if you have one, add it:

I think the following will increase return-to-owner rates, lower shelter impound rates and increase licensing rates:

1) One year free dog licensing for unlicensed dogs.
2) Begin an 'I-Heart-My-Pet' rewards card program for licensed dogs.
3) Begin a Free Ride Home policy for roaming licensed dogs.
4) Market this as a friendly courtesy service by Animal Control.

I think the following will increase the number of homes that are available to work with rescues as foster homes:
1) repeal limit laws

I think that the following would reduce the number of shelter intakes attributed to habitual roaming dogs:
1)Obtain partial or full sponsorship from a hardware store for fencing materials, gates and locks & make the free or reduced price materials available to owners of dogs found roaming to due inadequate yard confinement.

If each of these were implemented and each prevented 10 animals/year from entering a shelter, annual shelter intakes would lower by 30x#shelters holding all other variables constant.

Have something better? Let's hear it. These are nudges. The only rule is that the nudges cannot be punitive. We are establishing a common ground.

My total vision would be to have us try to implement what we finally decide on and then have Roz document what we did in an article to show what can happen when opposites establish a common goal and work together to achieve it. Roz, I volunteered you for the final part because you are an author.

Posted by Laura Finco, a resident of Alamo,
on Sep 7, 2010 at 11:57 am

As a science teacher in Alamo, I have always encouraged my students to look closely at the facts and statistics; let the science show you the truth. In this discussion, it is very evident where that truth is and why AM Buchanan voted against SB 250.

As someone who has bred dogs, it is heartbreaking how vilified this has become. I am a good breeder who carefully checks pedigrees, monitors the health history of every dog, thoroughly review prospective families and have a life long connection with every puppy I have ever sold. I follow the laws, pay taxes on what I sell, and do my best to make sure none of my puppies ever end up in a shelter. All of them go to new homes with microchips. I have agreements with all my new homes for age/breed appropriate spay/neuter unless the dog will be used in conformation, SAR, or some other venue where altering is not feasible. I am not the exception. This is the norm for modandy and cat breeders who are involved in the fancy. And many are actively involved in Rescue or support Rescue.

There is nothing wrong with being involved in showing dogs. There is no crime. But to hear supporters of SB 250, one would think so. There are many involved in showing and breeding dogs as well as people like Laura Sanborn and Angie Niles who use dogs bred by show/pet breeders and other service organizations who are stakeholders and have the knowledge to work toward realistic solutions. Solutions will not happen overnight but nothing will happen if mandates keep being pushed. The Municipal Spay/Neuter fund is a step in the right direction. Get the services to those who are on need of them the most.

Posted by Laura Sanborn, a resident of another community,
on Sep 7, 2010 at 12:55 pm

Roz wrote: "California is a big, diversified state.... One size does not fit all."

That is an argument against statewide legislation -- such as SB 250.

Another argument is that since the policy that SB 250 would create has failed everywhere it's been implemented at the local level, it would appear that it "does not fit" anywhere.

Posted by Diane Blackman, a resident of another community,
on Sep 7, 2010 at 7:01 pm

Hi Steven

I see that you don't care to share your name or details that would allow me to put statistics to your statements. Oh well. Let me be another who is (a) against SB250 (b) not a breeder (c) not an owner of any AKC dog and (d) owner of three dogs from shelters or off the street - all neutered. I've spent countless hours helping people with dog issues, persuading people not to breed, helping people understand good dog management and good dog breeding. SB250 is not good law. Take for example, Roz's comment that the letter of the law might not be applied to a search dog. It is just bad policy to pass laws intending that they not be enforced as written. The failure to provide for reasonable exemptions is either intentional or the result of base incompetence. There is a large gap between Ms Mancuso's claims and the effective language of the bill. Again, if she honestly intended the bill to act as she states then it is incompetently written. Very importantly the money used for enforcement could be more effectively spent on prevention. Reasonable thoughtful people can be against SB250 because of the harm it would have done.

Posted by Tina Perriguey, a resident of another community,
on Sep 8, 2010 at 9:02 am

Steven wrote: "The people who are vocal against SB 250, including those commenting on this blog, 95% share the same trait... they breed animals for profit or for show. The same tired names and tired comments show up each time mandatory spay and neuter comes up."

Steven, are you aware of the fact that the American Society for the Prevention of
Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA) did not support SB 250, that in fact their Position Statement on mandatory/spay neuter (MSN) legislation doesn't work. Are you aware that the State Humane Association of California (SHAC) - the state coalition of humane societies - did NOT support SB 250? Are you aware that the California Veterinary Medical Association (CVMA) did not support SB 250? Did you know that the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) issued a position statement (on May 14, 2009) opposing all MSN laws such as SB 250?

Written by a California resident who sacrificed a considerable amount financially fighting SB 250 - and who has never owned a male or female dog (or cat) who produced a litter.

Posted by Roz Rogoff, the San Ramon Observer,
on Sep 8, 2010 at 8:45 pm

Roz Rogoff is a registered user.

I had to take a break from this discussion to get some work done. I agree we should focus on our common goals of helping animals and finding mutual ways to do that.

I signed up for a California Spay and Neuter license plate, which will go to help fund low cost and free spay and neuter clinics for people who cannot otherwise afford to spay and neuter their pets. This is especially necessary for cats, since they are more likely to be left outdoors than dogs.

I have been lobbying for San Ramon to take over its own Animal Control function, but the City Council believes it would be too expensive. The city sends $335,000 to Martinez to manage our animal control, which I consider too expensive for what we get. I'll look at Bill Bruce's video again, and see if I can get members of our City Council to look at it too and reconsider putting our animal control under the control of the city and not the County. I think we could do a better job of it and keep it local. I hope those of you living in or near San Ramon would support this too.


Posted by Angela Niles, a resident of another community,
on Sep 9, 2010 at 10:57 am

That would be both a tremendous responsibility and a tremendous opportunity. I am glad that you are willing to revisit Bill Bruce's video. He is very approachable and willing to go into details regarding the hows and whys of the various components that comprise his total program. I was delighted that he clearly identifies goals for the various components and clearly identifies pass/fail criteria that he uses to assess whether or not a component is achieving its goal. If something fails the criteria, he, in general, does not rely on stepping up enforcement -too expensive & it does not address the deficiencies in the approach that lead to the failure. He tries to understand the mechanisms that are causing the failure and then modifies the approach accordingly. This is a practice that is common amongst people who are successful problem solvers.

The voluntary high licensing compliance rate in Calgary coupled with acknowledgment that $$ spent on enforcement are best kept to a minimum means that those $$ are then available towards programs that work. That aspect of Calgary's model just tickles the heck out of me. At the local level, it is easier to recruit volunteer help and donations for successful programs that work than for those that don't. And the moral is better.

One of the volunteer organizations that I belong to has a discount sponsorship with a pet store chain. I spend over $100/month/dog just on food and treats - even more when the rest of the stuff I buy for my dogs is included. The discount I get from that card in two months alone exceeds the annual cost of my dog licenses. Licensing compliance statewide is estimated at 15%-30%. If people who licensed their dogs could be given such a discount card as a 'thank you', they would more than recoup the cost of the license in purchases that they would make regardless. What a fantastic way to generate revenue that the Dublin AC would then have direct control over for setting up their own efficient spay and neuter programs and other programs tailored specifically to its needs. Of course, those programs would have to reinforce trust between the public and AC or else the licensing rate will fall. Ha! What a thought that Dublin could become a Best Practices model for the rest of California for its licensing program.

Posted by alice smith, a resident of another community,
on Sep 15, 2010 at 3:40 pm

First of all the plate is UGLY.. even if it was drawn by a "movie star". Most people I have asked said they would not put it on their wagon much less their actual car. Second, the monies coming in are being funneled to who else.. Judie Mancuso.. when they should be placed in a neutral holding fund for disbursement to the appropriate groups.

As for Bruce and Calgary, I have been to two of his lectures.. very inspiring and workable.. no mandatory castration, no harsh penalties for a loose dog, actual return of the pet to the owner ( for a small fee but who would not want to pay?)

In other words.. the carrot that Calgary and Bruce propose could be workable instead of the stick and punishment that Mancuso favors.
Fully 85% of owned dogs are already castrated according to the CVMA and over 90% of owned cats. The problem is reaching the groups who are already wary of the "policia" and breaking the language barrier, making sure that these people know they will not be arrested, fined or in any way harmed by having their pets licensed and castrated. Pretty hard to do when they read and hear that they will be fined, their pets taekn and.. who knows what else..
As for the expenses stated to "kill" the animals, the costs to run the shelters is FIXED in many instances.. like salaries ( they tend to INCREASE) petrol for vehicles ( going down?? I don't think so) replacement of fixtures.. ( crates, fences, computers) office supplies, and much more. The actual costs of these will not change no matter how many fewer animals are killed.. as long as the doors stay open.. newer bigger more expensive "shelters" are sought.. look at Sacramento for a perfect example.. multi million dollar place complete with marble floors and"artwork" now struggling to keep the doors open.. why.. over spending and lack of understanding what was really needed.. FUNDING FOR FREE spay/neuter..Licensing incentives.. and more "in touch" programs with the community instead of a building.
Mandatory castration will NOT CLOSE the shelters.. in fact many shelters that COULD close or run on a much more limited budget refuse to do so and import animals from all sorts of other places..
Punitive actions tend to cause LESS cooperation with the populace.. and certainty leads to more death in the shelters..

Posted by alice smith, a resident of another community,
on Sep 15, 2010 at 3:46 pm

Good Idea Roz.. keep it local.. that is what we all said when fighting against first ab 1634 and then sb 250.. local laws work best for animals and people.. IF they are fair and reduce the friction between the ACO's and the people who pay their salaries.
By the way.. one very good way to reduce the amount of animals in the shelters in to drop the "limit laws" and allow people to have multiple pets regardless of how many they have .. Calgary has no limit laws.. and yet.. no "hoarding" problems either.. sadly a mental illness is now becoming another "created crisis" that the animals rights groups are pushing in order to squash the No Kill program.

Posted by Roz Rogoff, the San Ramon Observer,
on Sep 15, 2010 at 5:59 pm

Roz Rogoff is a registered user.


I don't like the illustration on the license plate either. I suppose getting the support of Pierce Brosnan helped get the plate accepted, and if it raises money for low income and irresponsible pet owners to spay and neuter their outdoor and free roaming pets, then it's a badge of honor to wear it.

The money goes to the California Veterinary Medical Board (CVMB) in conjunction with the California Spay and Neuter License Plate Fund, compliance with the Government Code section 11015.5. This is a fund to spay and neuter animals. Web Link If Judie Mancuse is doing this, good for her!


Posted by A Little Bird, a resident of another community,
on Mar 30, 2012 at 8:11 am

Calgary's Bill Bruce has been a speaker at a NAIA (Patti Strand) conference.

That's the only red flag I need.

Source: Web Link

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