Gov. Schwarzenneger Vetoes a Humane BillPublished October 1, 2010
This past August, California pet owners had cause for optimism after the California Senate passed AB-2743 with bi-partisan support. The welfare of cats and dogs are once again at great risk. Unfortunately, on Thursday September 30th, Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger vetoed AB 2743, the humane bill which would have prohibited landlords from requiring pet owners to declaw their cats or de-bark their dogs prior to renting them an apartment or house. Even though the California Apartment Association, represented by more than 50,000 rental property owners, industry professionals and managers supported the strategy contained in AB 2743 - suggesting instead that landlords should hold pet owners financially responsible for any pet-related damages that occur, and to establish pet-deposits - their input was apparently ignored. The powerful organization, the California Veterinary Medical Association, strongly opposed the bill, and lobbied diligently to have it defeated. The CVMA sent an alert to California veterinarians to take action to help ensure its defeat asking them to write personal letters to their state senator and the Governor to oppose this bill. They said, "While the CVMA is supportive of the overall goal in this bill, we have taken a 'strongly oppose' position because of several key sections in the current version of the bill. Specifically, language in the bill." An urgent call to action was immediately made for pet lovers to call and write Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger's office in support of the bill. I called the Governor's office and spoke with an aide who informed me that the governor was an animal lover, was considering the bill, but had until the end of September to take action. Naively, from the tone of our conversation I assumed that the final passage of the bill would be a "slam-dunk". Governor Schwarzenegger's veto statement reads: "To the Members of the California State Assembly: I am returning Assembly Bill 2743 without my signature. This bill would prohibit a landlord from requiring a tenant, as a condition of rental occupancy, to have an animal "declawed" or "devoiced." I support the goal of this bill, which would preclude landlords from making inappropriate medical decisions as a condition of occupancy. However, I cannot sign a measure that contains findings and declarations by the Legislature that are unsupported by science. In addition, this measure suggests that declawing should be prohibited for any "non-therapeutic" reason, which would include the legitimate medical needs of a pet owner. Regrettably, this bill goes too far in attempting to deal with inappropriate demands by landlords. For these reasons, I am unable to sign this bill. Sincerely, Arnold Schwarzenegger" It would be indeed an understatement to say I am disappointed with Governor Schwarzenegger's decision. His signature could spare pain and suffering for countless cats and dogs, and the agonizing choice that so many apartment renters may have to face. While scientific proof exists demonstrating that declawed cats and debarked dogs are at risk of serious behavioral issues - as clearly presented on Little Big Cat, Dr. Jean Hofve, DVM's website - it appears that Governor Schwarzenegger chose to turn a blind eye to them and be swayed by the CVMA. Additionally, if it was just the wording of the bill that was unacceptable by CVMA, why didn't they work harder, demonstrating their support of its goal with recommendations for rewording it to assure its passage? What do you think? Leave a comment and share your opinion.