TheDogPlace > Animal Rights Legislation >> California Bans Public Animal Sales





Sell an animal at a flea market and you're a criminal.  HSUS-backed SB 917 is just one more successful animal rights strategy that takes away your Constitutionally guaranteed rights to free trade.



California Bans Public Animal Sales

by Geneva Coats, R.N.

Secretary, California Federation of Dog Clubs


July 27, 2011 - HSUS-backed SB 917 makes public sale of any animal a criminal offense in CA and it will be fast-tracked in other states.


California Bans Public Animal Sales - Thanks HSUS!SB 917 was signed into law yesterday by Governor Jerry “Moonbeam” Brown. The criminal animal cruelty statute now will include public sales of animals, making sales a misdemeanor offense right up there in the same league with beating, torturing and cruelly killing an animal. The law will go into effect in 2012.


The notorious CA SB 917 has been promoted by supporters as a ban on "roadside sales" of animals. In actuality, this bill prohibits any public animal sales activities unless specifically exempted….roadside or not. No animal sales may transpire in any public place. Offenders would face a fine on a first offense, and misdemeanor criminal charges thereafter. SB 917 adds to the current criminal animal cruelty statue and doubles the maximum allowed penalties for these offenses. Current law describes animal cruelty offenses (such as torturing, tormenting, cruelly beating, mutilating, or cruelly killing an animal) and specifies that such activities can be charged as either misdemeanors or felonies, with possible jail time.


Equating heinous, abusive actions with animal sales sets the bar for animal cruelty at a very low threshold. Under the language of this bill, selling puppies will become as unfavorably regarded by the public as selling such contraband items as illegal drugs or stolen merchandise. SB 917 also establishes a worrisome precedent by criminalizing the very act of sales itself. Where will this lead in the future? It is frightening to contemplate.


Dog club meeting at a coffee shop? Transferring ownership in the parking lot is now a criminal offense. Meeting a buyer midway to sell a puppy in any public place could now earn you a rap sheet. Giving kittens away at the local supermarket could be considered a misdemeanor offense under the provisions of this bill, as that could be construed by overzealous officers as “giving away as part of a commercial transaction”. Hey, the kid has change in his pocket? He must have been selling those kittens!


In a practical sense, what does this mean for animals? Sadly, it means that many people will be afraid to place animals at all, and instead of animals finding good homes, more dogs and cats will become homeless, to starve or be hit by a car; or, they might end up in the local shelter where they will add to the death toll. The Good Samaritan who attempts to find homes for the litter of kittens under his porch would end up with a criminal record.


SB 917 was crafted with some specific exemptions. Shelters, nonprofit rescues, SPCAs, and pet stores are exempt, as are events held by 4-H Clubs, and Junior or Future Farmers Clubs. Agricultural/county fairs are exempt. Stockyards, public livestock sales, and live animal markets are exempt. Dog shows, cat shows and bird shows are exempt.


The fact that certain groups can be exempt from the “crime” of selling, or that the “crime” is OK in some locations but not others, demonstrates that the act of selling itself is not inherently undesirable or criminal.



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The exemption for "dog shows" means the dog sale


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must occur on the confines of the showground. As we


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all are aware, AKC has a strict policy of no


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dog sales at dog shows.


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Further, in order for the sale to occur legally, the show must ensure that all exhibitors comply with all applicable federal, state, and local animal laws. This requirement would be a practical impossibility. Exhibitors travel from different cities, counties and even different states to the show grounds. Different areas have different animal control regulations. In addition, the exhibitors must carry proof of their paid entry fee. This last requirement seems to indicate that animal control personnel intend to police show grounds.


And there is good reason to believe that animal control personnel intend to police this new law, determining administration of violations and penalties. The bill states: "A notice describing the charge and the penalty for a violation of this section may be issued by any peace officer, animal control officer......or humane officer". Many animal control officers have an adversarial attitude toward dog breeders, and will now have the power to serve them with criminal charges and penalties simply for conducting an honest and honorable business transaction. Criminal records adversely affects an individual's employment eligibility and credibility in general and should not be imposed lightly by an animal control officer with an ax to grind and little education in constitutional law.


If the dog show exemption is completely meaningless for dog hobbyists (and it is), what venue for sales is left to California dog breeders? Sales in public is prohibited, and AKC dog shows do not permit on site sales. The only alternative is to conduct dog sales from private residences. The dangers of an individual selling anything from his home are well-known. Home invasion robberies, assaults and even murders have occurred during private party sales gone awry. There have been documented incidents where puppies were stolen at gunpoint from individuals conducting sales at their residences.


Putting aside the danger involved, dog breeding and selling is already laden with multiple onerous regulations and is rapidly becoming cost prohibitive in California. Many localities including Los Angeles City and County limit breeders to one litter per year, and an expensive breeding permit is required. In the city of Los Angeles, it costs $335 per year to license ONE intact dog; and this only IF you meet the requirements to qualify for the intact exemption! The very survival of dog breeding in California is tenuous at best.


The Humane Society of the United States (HSUS) is the sponsor of SB 917. That fact alone should tell you that the bill is part of a larger agenda to stifle animal ownership. This same legislation was brought forward in previous sessions in 2009 and 2010, and did not pass. In 2009, then-governor Schwarzenegger returned the bill, AB 1122, writing:


"I am returning Assembly Bill 1122 without my signature. I am concerned with the scope and unintended consequences of this bill and that it does not assure the humane and ethical treatment and welfare of animals. This bill has unknown costs associated with the enforcement and implementation of prohibiting the sale of live animals in specified venues and could drive the selling of animals underground or to private sites. For this reason I am unable to sign this bill."


A similar measure banning roadside sales was recently nixed by Texas Governor Perry, who wrote in his veto statement:


"House Bill 1768 would encroach upon the rights of private enterprise and property owners while fundamentally altering and expanding the role of county government....... As a state, we should not raise barriers of entry into the marketplace, stifle competition or hinder the entrepreneurial spirit."


Those involved in breeding and raising animals heartily concur!


The HSUS, the sponsor of SB 917, has an admitted agenda to make animal breeding incrementally more expensive and inconvenient. This bill is another weapon in the anti-dog breeder arsenal. Couple the ban on public sales with other bills presented this session that require sellers to report buyers information to animal control (AB 1121), that require microchipping of any dog that is impounded (SB 702), and that prohibit anyone convicted of an animal offense from residing with animals for a period of 5 to 10 years (AB 1117), and we can see the pieces of the puzzle fitting together. With HSUS sponsoring the bill, the intent is clear. Criminalize dog owners by any means possible, and then prohibit them from future animal ownership for a good long time.


The Animal Council and California Federation of Dog Clubs opposed SB 917 early on, and other groups in the state soon joined in the effort as well.


But sadly, the AKC chose to remain silent on this bill, citing lack of an official policy on public sales. Dwindling numbers of AKC registrations and declining sales by private parties does not seem to be sufficient motivation to spur AKC into active opposition of all anti-dog ownership proposals.


The Farm Bureau also naively did not oppose SB 917, pointing to exemptions in the bill for public sales of livestock. Don’t farmers use herding, hunting and guard dogs? Do farmers realize that under SB 917, they could now be arrested for selling a puppy at a fair or livestock show? Creeping incrementalism in these animal rights-sponsored bills will hasten the day that working dogs cannot be obtained at any price.


PIJAC (Pet Industry Joint Advisory Council) actively supported SB 917. It seems that PIJAC was delighted at the thought of eliminating any competition for pet stores and heavily-regulated commercial breeders. Unfortunately, the animal rights groups in California are also lobbying intensely to ban sales of purpose-bred pets in pet stores and replace them with unregulated “rescues”. Combine a pet store sales ban with a ban on public sales, and consumers in California will have limited options for obtaining the pet of their dreams.


On August 2, 1776, at the signing of the Declaration of Independence, Benjamin Franklin said GENEVA COATS, R.N. Speaks Out on SB 917 and what it means to Californians"We must all hang together, or assuredly we shall all hang separately” – meaning that if they did not band together in the fight against the British, they would all be hanged separately. These words still ring true today, 235 years later. We need all the animal interest groups to work together to oppose anti-dog ownership legislation.


So be warned, Californians. Soon you can be a criminal just for selling a dog.


New crimes created by CA SB 917

SEC. 2.  Section 597.4 is added to the Penal Code, to read:

597.4. (a) It shall be unlawful for any person to willfully do either of the following:

(1) Sell or give away as part of a commercial transaction, a live animal on any street, highway, public right-of-way, parking lot, carnival, or boardwalk.

2) Display or offer for sale, or display or offer to give away as part of a commercial transaction, a live animal, if the act of selling or giving away the live animal is to occur on any street, highway, public right-of-way, parking lot, carnival, or boardwalk.


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