All About Marie
- Marie Hulett
- Animal Files columnist of the Orange County Register; Emmy Award winning producer of Educational Television Programming; Host of "The Pet Place Radio Show" heard world-wide at www.blogtalkradio.com/petplace; click the player below to listen. Producer/Director/Editor of "The Pet Place TV Show" during the 18 years it ran on KDOC TV in Los Angeles and Orange Counties; Wife, Mother of five kids, Grandmother of one baby boy, and pet parent of three cats, two dogs, and a cockatoo.
Tuesday, September 14, 2010
Assemblyman Silva's Office responds...
A few days ago, I sent an angry message to Assemblyman Silva's office regarding his disappointing "No" vote on SB 250. I mentioned how my husband and adult daughters also had previously written to him and encouraged him to vote "Yes" on the issue. His assistant claimed he had never received these communications, though he failed to ask what their names were, which makes his statement a little far-fetched. We all have different last names! So he wouldn't be able to find four Huletts who had corresponded with his office. But that, apparently, went beyond his scope of research parameters.
So my husband wrote to him...again...and expressed his disappointment in Silva's vote. He received a response which I will excerpt and respond to...but it demonstrates once and for all that the Assemblyman did little to accurately research this bill, find out the real facts (not from out-of-state lobbyists/breeders) and make a solid voting decision based on the real facts. What's sad about this, is that this is just one issue...our representatives have hundreds of issues to vote on each year. No wonder California is in such bad shape.
Anyway, here are the excerpts and my replies to them...
SILVA'S OFFICE: Contrary to the statistics bandied about by the author and the supporters of this bill, according to the National Animal Interest Alliance (NAIA) Shelter Project, statewide in California the number of dogs received by shelters has declined from roughly 680,000 in 1988 to approximately 400,000 in 2005 (a decrease of roughly 41%). The number of dogs euthanized has declined in that period from 440,000 in 1988 to roughly 150,000 (a decrease of roughly 66%) with a low of roughly 120,000 in 2007.
MARIE: "Bandied about?" Really? Is that what you meant to say? That's a little inflammatory considering that this idiom means: "to spread something around in an unfavorable context; to toss words around in a gossipy fashion." Nothing like insulting the author of the bill to make an argument. (If you don't have a leg to stand on, hurl insults!) BTW - let's look at who the NAIA is. The national director/cofounder/spokesperson is Patti Strand. She has been breeding Dalmatians since 1969 and been an American Kennel Club (AKC) board member since 1995.
The NAIA is a front group and industry-funded lobbying organization for animal commerce and agriculture based in Portland, Oregon (NOT CALIFORNIA). Agendas include financial interests, legislation and public relations for farm animal agribusiness, commercial breeding, hunting, fishing, trapping, fur ranching, animal testing, horse slaughter, rodeos, circuses and entertainment. Since 1991, Ms. Strand has lobbied against humane legislation for animals under the NAIA's 501(c)(3) charity status and the NAIA Trust, an affiliated 501(c) legislative branch. Although pandering to "animal welfare", she is reliably antagonistic to animal welfare and progressive legislation. Ms. Strand has no background or current involvement in animal welfare or advocacy. Any group, jurisdiction or individual attempting to introduce humane legislation may expect to be undermined by the NAIA, the AKC or both. Barbara Reichman, the other main NAIA person, is from the New Jersey Federation of Dog Clubs...another breeder...imagine that!
Now let's look at the years that NAIA is focusing on...1988-2005? Really? We're not looking at CURRENT trends? Let's surf on over to California's State Veterinary Website...the place where our legislators SHOULD be getting their statistics (not from BREEDERS)...because it is OUR UNBIASED state government’s master record for this topic...
There has been a 14% increase in both intake AND euthanasia over the past 5 years. In 2009, 475,642 dogs entered California Shelters. 165,666 were housed and later killed at taxpayer expense.
SILVA'S OFFICE: The numbers for cats is a bit different - since 1995, when these statistic were first kept the number of cats received has ranged from a high of roughly 385,000 (2008) to a low of roughly 220,000. The number received during 2008 is only slightly higher than the number received in 1995. The number of cats euthanized has ranged from a height of roughly 285,000 (1995) to a low of 115,000 (1999). Most of the cats euthanized are feral cats.
MARIE: In 2009, 363,443 cats entered shelters. Of this amount 247,195 were housed and later killed at tax payer expense. Saying that these are "mostly feral" is a convenient excuse to make it appear as though the number isn't "as bad" as it sounds. Having previously worked at a large county shelter for almost 15 years...this number is INDEED bad and these animals aren't "mostly feral" as stated. They are just scared cats who will cower, growl, and scratch. That's what cats do when they are scared. It doesn't make them feral. They had owners who never bothered to look for them.
SILVA'S OFFICE: All this without a statewide mandatory program.
MARIE: Is this something we're proud of?
SILVA'S OFFICE: And all trends are downward.
MARIE: Not true...see our unbiased, State Veterinarian's records! Up 14% and rising due to economic problems faced by many Californians.
SILVA'S OFFICE: (Regarding all trends are downward) especially for animals that are pets, thanks in large part to the efforts of many animal rescue organizations. The numbers of dogs and cats placed in adoptive homes has risen from a low of 100,000 (1999) to a high of roughly 205,000 (2008), an increase of 105%.
MARIE: Current trend: Adoptions in 2009 - dogs and cats 200558; Adoptions in 2008 - dogs and cats 212679. Adoptions are DOWN and getting worse due to economic downturn. Talk to shelter directors for 5 minutes to get a sense of what's happening. Not only that, owner relinquishments are increasing for the same reasons!
SILVA'S OFFICE: The author's background information only reports trends beginning in 2004. It ignores much of the significant reductions that have occurred since 1995.
MARIE: That's because it is relevant to what's happening now. And the fact is, this year, we still housed and later killed 412,861 dogs and cats at tax payers’ expense!!! These are not just numbers...these are wasted lives and wasted taxpayer dollars. And all of this could have been prevented with SB250.
SILVA'S OFFICE: This measure contains a tax or fee increase as follows: It authorizes local governments to force the owners of intact animals to pay the costs of spaying or neutering their dogs under specified circumstances.
MARIE: The law would have ONLY targeted intact animals that were roaming the streets at large...you know, the ones that can reproduce because no one is controlling them!
SILVA'S OFFICE: And, it requires that owners or custodians of unaltered dogs be responsible for the established costs of impoundment, which include daily board costs, vaccination, medication, and any other diagnostic or therapeutic applications and "any additional impoundment procedures."
MARIE: Yes - and the problem with this is? If you have a dog that is roaming loose on public property, or the private property of a complainant who has reported the dog (or cat) loose...then you bet that the owner/custodian is responsible for the costs of impoundment, etc. It's certainly not the taxpayers. The owner/custodian has violated existing law, allowing his/her pet to run at large.
SILVA'S OFFICE: The oppose recommendation results from the heavy-handedness of this measure and undeniable interference with the rights of individuals to enjoy their own property without unnecessary interference by government.
MARIE: Heavy handedness? SB250 would have gone after people who are irresponsible and let their pets roam at large...which is against the law! The owners do NOT have the right to do this...and if their pets manage to engage in "procreation" activities while out and about...they are subjecting taxpayers to covering the cost of caring for and killing surplus animals. This is a case where government is SUPPOSED to intervene. Irresponsible pet owners do NOT have the right to create a situation where taxpayers have to clean up their mess.
SILVA'S OFFICE: The Fiscal Analysis, this measure would likely result in major state costs. While this bill will not result in a state reimbursement in 2009-10 to the locals because the Animal Adoption mandate was suspended for one year in AB 12xxxx (General Govt. Trailer Bill-July 2009), the state could incur major reimbursement costs in 2010-11 and in subsequent fiscal years if the suspension is not continued. The total amount of the costs is unknown but could be over $3 million annually.
MARIE: The "fiscal analysis" referred to relies on information from NAIA...isn't that like the fox guarding the hen house? Almost 500,000 animals entered California Shelters in 2009...assuming we spent $50 on each of these pets (and we most likely spent much more than that) taxpayers spent $25 MILLION dollars on caring for animals that mostly belong to irresponsible owners. Realistically, under our current system, it costs closer to $150+/pet that enters a facility (much more if the pet is sick or injured, or impounded by animal control while it is running at large, etc.)...so in reality taxpayers spent about $75 MILLION dollars. So if there would have been costs under the proposed system that could be over $3 million dollars annually, and that's debatable considering the source of the information used by the fiscal analysis, it's still a significant savings to what our costs are currently.
SILVA'S OFFICE - this was a non-partisan issue.
MARIE - Well then why did all Republicans receive a memo from the "Republican-How-To-Vote-On-Issues-People" giving this a "3-STAR-VOTE-NO" categorization (One of the strongest partisan recommendations). Sounds pretty partisan to me!
A final note - breeders from across the country were counseled on how to call California representatives and supply appropriate addresses/zipcodes to appear as though they were constituents. They did not want this law to pass in California as it would set a precedent for the Country. Sadly, our representatives were too blind to recognize this type of "organized cheating" that was occurring. But worse, humane organizations remained lethargic on this issue and never mobilized as a force to make sure this law passed. Last year alone, our state killed 412,861 animals. Silva’s office considers this "good" and "an improvement"...at this rate, we can look forward to killing over 4 million animals here in the great state of California over the next 10 years. FOUR MILLION! I hope Mr. Silva stares into the face of his beloved dogs and imagines them, along with 4 million of their closest friends getting killed for no other reason than there are no homes available – they are “surplus.” It's easy to write the words "four million"...not so easy to visualize...and I don't think Mr. Silva has ever even tried.