Gazette.com Long Beach's Favorite Community Newspaper Long Beach, CA 90803
By Amy Bentley-Smith Features Editor
An altered dog breeding ordinance that combined the suggestions of members of the animal rights community and professional dog breeders got its first "atta boy" Tuesday night.
A second and final reading is expected next week. Unlike in December when the City Council struck down that necessary approval on the previous dog breeding ordinance, this reading likely will go through without objection. Council members and the public that spoke on the issue said the ordinance before them was much improved over the previous draft and gave the city.s Bureau of Animal Control the tools necessary to enforce it. But as animal welfare advocates thanked the city for working with the public, they still expressed reservations about the change. Many said they would prefer a no vote.
"Friends of Long Beach Animals does not condone breeding of animals, but we are realists," said Shirley Vaughan, president of Friends of Long Beach Animals, a spay/neuter advocacy group in the city. "We give Wesley Moore (manager, Animal Control) and Animal Control staff and the city attorney credit and kudos for coming up with a workable ordinance."
The proposed amendment came about after American Kennel Club officials advised the city's Convention & Visitors Bureau that their members were reconsidering having its major dog show return to Long Beach because they objected to being in a city that banned their sport. AKC is scheduled to bring its Eukenuba-sponsored national dog show to Long Beach later this year and again in 2007.
When the ordinance came up for its second reading before the City Council last December, dog welfare advocates, who were shocked to learn of the ordinance change, raised their own objections. Although they admitted the ban was rarely enforced, they said its existence was an important element in fighting pet overpopulation. Allowing breeding would lead to larger number of dogs being killed in the city.s animal shelter, they said. They convinced the council members, who voted to request staff work with concerned groups on a new draft that addressed the issued raised.
The council saw the results Tuesday. The revised draft adds more restrictions on those seeking to breed their dogs -- both professional breeders and "backyard breeders". Animal Control Manager Wesley Moore said such restrictions should act as an incentive to obtain a permit or reconsider breeding at all.
"Hopefully we'll see a reduction in breeding and more spay and neutered animals," Moore said before the meeting.
Deputy City Attorney Richard Anthony, who wrote the ordinance, highlighted seven aspects of the new law that addressed the primary concerns raised at a January public meeting on the issue. In addition to more restrictions on breeding and getting a permit, the new proposed ordinance requires all dogs be micro-chipped; prohibits breeding of those dog breeds disproportionately euthanized at the shelter or dogs not recognized by national kennel clubs; limits permits to one dog per household per year; requires a permit for the sale or transfer of animals within the city, specifically for rescue groups or breeders from outside the city; and includes administrative penalty and misdemeanor criminal penalties for violators.
Enforcement was a major issue with both rescue and spay/neuter groups and city staff. They said that without ways to enforce the law, the ordinance would have little effect. In a separate agenda item, the council received and filed a report regarding proposed fees related to the ordinance. Animal Control is proposing permitting fees of $500 ($200 for an application fee, $300 for a permit fee), and an increase from $36 to $54 in the dog license fee for unaltered dogs. The council will have a hearing on the fees at a separate City Council meeting.
Money generated from fees -- and violations -- would be enough to pay for more officers to enforce the ordinance, Moore said. But Justin Rudd, founder of Haute Dogs, which puts on dog events, questioned that assertion.
"I'm concerned. If you hire two staff persons and a truck, the fines and fees, will it be enough?" Rudd asked. "If not, where will it (the money) come from?"
He received no answer, but council members said the ordinance should be closely followed. Councilwoman Tonia Reyes Uranga (Seventh District) suggested the city establish an advisory group that would monitor and make recommendations on animal issues in the city.
I have to agree with duchess. And alicat still makes some great points.
You know, I think it's funny that the government is going to such lengths to consider "fixing" overbreeding, dog overpopulation problems but our country hasn't found a way to isolate and get rid of AIDS? Does anyone else think the time and money put into this could be redirected into a different, equally hopeless cause?
There is never going to be a way to fix the dog overpopulation problem that is going to make people happy. It's like cutting off your nose to spite your face. I will always be a firm believer in the fact that we could be spending all this time educating the average person on the downfalls of purchasing a puppy mill/pet shop puppy. And hey - rather than putting restrictions on breeding, why don't we heavily fine people for surrendering their dog to a Shelter? (this would require microchipping or tatooing all dogs).
I see what these folks are trying to accomplish, but I think they need to seek input from outside sources and try and do some additional research before they pursue what they are attempting. I start to feel like the authors of the legislation only have 1/2 of the information they need to speak for their constituents. Anyone else feel this way?
Hey, here is a novel thought, shutting down all pet stores would close down a large percentage of puppymills. Why do dog supply stores need to carry puppies coming from puppymills anyway? Oh, right, that would be big business, they won't be shut down any time soon.