Lassie doesn't save the day
SACRAMENTO - Refusing to heel to an overflow crowd of protesters, the Senate Local Government Committee Wednesday approved bitterly contentious legislation that would hand animal control officers the authority to force irresponsible pet owners to sterilize their dog or cat.
The 3-2 vote came despite a lobbying campaign by former child actor Jon Provost, who played Timmy in an early Lassie television series. Lassie also was in the audience, cast in the unfamiliar role of not saving the day - for now.
She/he will have another opportunity when Assembly Bill 1634 moves to the Senate Appropriations Committee.
Sen. Christine Kehoe, D-San Diego, helped advance the legislation with her vote. It passed 3-2.
Its future may turn on one word. The bill was amended at the last minute to change language stating that animal control "shall" issue citations to a more discretionary "may."
"The whole point of this bill is to reduce the needless killing of hundred of thousands of dogs and cats in our shelters," said Assemblyman Lloyd Levine, D-Sherman Oaks, who is carrying the measure.
Opponents, who outnumbered supporters by about 5-1, claimed the bill goes too far and is an attack on individual rights.
The bill focuses on irresponsible pet owners who let their dogs and cats roam or bite. Not having a license is one of the offenses. Dog owners may be fined for the first two offenses, with the third-strike being required spaying or neutering. For cat owners, sterilization would be ordered on the second offense.
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Bless the Bullys