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Legislative Action Center

Veterinarians, Animal Health Institute Join AKC in Opposing CA Dog and Cat “Bill of Rights”
April 13, 2022 by AKC Government Relations

A bill pending in the California State Assembly seeks to adopt a “Dog and Cat Bill of Rights”, with such vague statements as giving a dog or cat the “right to be spayed or neutered”, a right to a life “free from fear and anxiety”, and many other broad statements.     

While the author and supporters are touting this as merely a list of responsibilities and helpful reminders for pet owners, Assembly Bill 1881 actually opens the door for a radical shift in the legal status of animals in the state – a shift that could dramatically alter how animals are cared for and treated throughout California.  

In response to these concerns this week, the California Veterinary Medical Association (CVMA) and the Animal Health Institute (AHI) joined with AKC in making a joint public statement in opposition to AB 1881. 

In the letter, we ask questions such as whether a “right” to a life free from anxiety means dogs should not be taken to the veterinarian if they are afraid and nervous?  If a dog doesn’t like being on a leash, should it be allowed to roam free?

We also express concerns with using terms such as “guardian” rather than “owner”, which further imply an intent to alter the legal status of animals by using terms typically reserved for humans (visit AKC’s key issue page at www.akcgr.org/guardian to learn more about this and related issues).

The joint letter also reiterates previous requests we have made to the author’s office that the bill clearly state that it does not alter the legal status of animals in the state.  

Under current California law, pets are considered property.  This legal status does not lessen our special bond with our animals, but is essential in ensuring that it is clear under law who is responsible for the animal’s care and well-being.  This legal status also protects the ability to use current penal code regarding penalties for theft of a pet in California.

AKC thanks CVMA and AHI, and the many other animal experts and leaders who are joining us in standing up for the best interests of animals by opposing AB 1881.

Join us in opposing AB 1881:

Assembly Bill 1881 is being considered by the Assembly Business and Professions Committee on Tuesday, April 26.  View AKC’s alert for talking points and information on how to submit written comments in opposition to this bill, and be sure to check the AKC Legislative Action Center at www.akcgr.org for the latest updates and information.

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