Pet Sterilization, Round Two?

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A few days ago, a new billboard went up alongside Interstate 5 here in Sacramento, at a location on the freeway where you can see the dome of the state Capitol in the background. That's not by accident.

AB 1634

The above logo plastered on the billboard is new... but the issue is not. In fact, it appears we're in for a new chapter in a contentious battle-- a fight over legislation to require most dogs and cats be spayed or neutered.

AB 1634 by Assemblymember Lloyd Levine (D-Van Nuys) was one of the most talked about bills of 2007 in Sacramento. Thousands of letters, emails, and phone calls on both sides were launched at the Legislature. Levine amended the legislation seven times in hopes of mollifying critics that called it, among other things, an unfair limit on their basic freedoms.

But since July of last year, AB 1634 has sat in the Senate Local Government Committee.

So what gives with the new campaign?

"We're gearing back up," said Judie Mancuso of the pro-AB 1634 California Taxpayers for Safe and Healthy Pets. Mancuso says the billboards were paid for by a Los Angeles physician, and that her group is hoping to revive the issue of mandatory spay/neuter before time runs out.

Mancuso's group commissioned a poll earlier this year where two-thirds of respondents said they either somewhat support or strongly support a proposal like AB 1634. She also says the group hired a powerful lobbying firm to try and run the bill across the goal line in the Legislature.

That being said, there are likely to again be large throngs of opponents decrying what they call a "one size fits all" approach to the pet population. Still, Assemblymember Levine said in a brief phone interview today that "the need for this type of legislation still exists."

Time is short on this one; Assembly bills have until June 27 to make it out of policy committees in the Senate.

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About John Myers

John Myers is senior editor of KQED's new California Politics & Government Desk. He has covered California politics for most of the past two decades, serving previously as Sacramento bureau chief for KQED News and most recently as political editor for KXTV News10 (ABC) in Sacramento. In 2014, he was named one of the nation's top statehouse reporters by The Washington Post. Follow him on Twitter @johnmyers.

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