California Governor Brown signs wildlife-friendly SB 1221 and pet-friendly SB 1229 into law

It’s been a good few days for the animals in Sacramento, California, this week. Governor Jerry Brown has signed two important pieces of animal-friendly legislation, which Best Friends supports, into law. Many thanks to our members and friends in the Golden State who responded to our Action Alerts on these bills and helped to move them through the various stages of the legislative process.

The first, Senate Bill 1221, which ends the routine practice of using packs of dogs to hunt big game, was introduced by State Senator Ted Lieu.

Hounding, as the practice of chasing game with radio-collared dogs is known, has been used in California primarily to hunt bears and bobcats. It is a cruel activity that employs the dogs’ natural chase instincts to terrify and exhaust the target animal who finally seeks escape by climbing a tree. The barking dogs surround the tree, and the hunter just follows the sound of the dogs or the collar-radio signal transmission to the location of the tree and takes an easy kill shot from below.

Not only is hounding unconscionably cruel to wildlife, the dogs are themselves victims. Many are injured through encounters with predators, and some literally run themselves to death from exhaustion and dehydration. Others become lost, and almost all of them end up in shelters or otherwise disposed of when their useful hunting life of just a few years is over. Likewise, many dogs from backyard breeders and mills who don’t make the cut as hunters land in the pound as hard-to-adopt-out young adults with few social skills, obsessive barking behavior, and a predilection to take off in pursuit of any interesting scent that wafts by.

On another front, Senate Bill 1229, introduced by State Senator Fran Pavley, makes it illegal for a landlord to require that cats be declawed or dogs be debarked as a condition of renter tenancy. Both declawing and debarking involve painful surgical mutilation of the animal that inhibits natural behavior and causes numerous undesirable side effects that often result in the declawed or debarked animal being surrendered to a shelter.

SB 1221 and SB 1229 are wins for the animals, wild and domestic, so cheers for Senators Lieu and Pavley, Governor Brown, and the many individuals and organizations who advocated for their passage and worked hard to see them become law. And, of course, cheers to you for making your voice heard in Sacramento.

Francis Battista