June 1, 2007

AB 1634 to stockdogs: "Drop dead."

Sheepdog Trial at Zamora

The latest revision [5/31] of California Assembly Bill 1634 is up: you can find it here. It's worse than ever.

Better writers have already discussed the many reasons this bill will harm, rather than help, the state's law dogs, service dogs, show dogs, companion dogs --- and shelter dogs.

So let me speak up on behalf of the finest working dogs in the state: dogs with more brains, drive and talent than any dog you can imagine. Someone needs to speak up, because AB 1634, if enforced as written, will mean the extinction of stockdogs and livestock guardian dogs in California.

Here's why:

Some of the best working stockdogs and livestock guardian dogs are not registered. Registration is required for an "intact permit."

Some of the best working stockdogs do not compete in sheepdog trials. Competition is required for an "intact permit."

The most important sanctioning body for cattledog and sheepdog trials in North America does not grant “herding titles.” Titles are required for an "intact permit."

As the Directors of the American Border Collie Association have written, “If AB 1634 is enacted, the amazing sheepdogs and cattledogs of California will have been legislated out of existence, at enormous cost to the livestock producers and livestock industry of the state.”

California has more sheep than most other states combined, and cattle ranchers contribute over a billion dollars to the state's economy each year. One rancher in Northern California wrote last month, "We could not get the work done without [our border collies]. We have a line that we have been breeding for many years and if this bill passes we will no longer be able to continue this line. They are registered but my husband's ranch dogs do not compete as he and they are too busy working."

I'm sure PETA Board Member Bill Maher --- who promotes AB 1634 in a video on the official website --- would enjoy mocking my friend's dogs and her family's livelihood.

But I know how special, and how important, her dogs are. And for the life of me I can't figure out how the eradication of those dogs --- and all the other great stockdogs and LGDs in the state --- is supposed to reduce the number of homeless animals in California shelters.

AB 1634 is a terrible bill. If you live in California and happen to read this post early enough on June 1st, call your assembly member, your senator, the governor. Ask them to oppose this badly-written, divisive, unworkable piece of legislation.

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