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AB 1122 CA BILL by ASM Ted Lieu

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Feel free to send your version of this letter!

April 23, 2009

Assemblymember Ted Lieu In Re: OPPOSE AB 1122

Capitol Office

Sacramento, CA

Dear Ms. Meyers:

First, let me thank you for your kindness for providing the opportunity to address our concerns over the issues that AB 1122 presents. We are indeed heartened that you are an animal lover. Whether a two-legged or four-legged "constituent", one can expect compassion from you!

As I previously stated, our goal is to implement no-kill policy statewide. We firmly believe that punitive laws such as AB 1122, though fraught with benevolent intentions, will result in the opposite of protecting animals. It will cause not only suffering by humans, but likewise for the animals that would be supposedly protected. These animals would instead be brought into shelters where the likelihood of death by contagious disease would only be surpassed by the reality of shelter euthanasia. In other words, if you are a puppy, kitten or any animal, the least safe place to be is a shelter.

We understand Assembly member Lieu’s concern for puppies sold haphazardly on street corners, but this is more of a local phenomena in some areas in Southern California and is rarely seen in Northern California where no-kill policy is prevalent.

The vague and undefined terms in AB 1122 serve to only breed fear that many longtime traditions and hobbies will fall prey to misinterpretation. These include but are not limited to: transport and transfer of rescued animals by volunteer good Samaritans, animal shows and exhibitions such as dog shows, equestrian trials, cat shows, reptile exhibitions, agility events, herding and hunting trials. It is often a common practice that animals be transferred, sold or placed at such events. AB 1122 could make simply the act of participation in such events a criminal act.

As written AB 1122 will cause more problems than it solves -

SECTION 1. Section 597.4 is added to the Penal Code, to read:

597.4. (a) It shall be unlawful for any person to willfully sell,

trade, barter, display, or offer for sale, trade, or barter, or give away as part of a

commercial transaction a live animal on any street, highway, public

right-of-way, commercial parking lot, or at any outdoor special sale,

swap meet, flea market, parking lot sale, carnival, or boardwalk.

Under California law a dog show with supply vendors is considered a "swap meet" and this would put all dog show exhibitors at risk of breaking the law. This could have a negative impact in the millions of dollars on the California budget as exhibitors from other States will not want to take the risk of being charged under the Penal code and/or having their dogs impounded. The famous and highly successful Eukanuba Dog Show, once a $65 million dollar windfall for Long Beach, has now been moved to Florida due to concerns with punitive laws in California that could jeopardize the exhibited dogs. Should this bill pass in its current form, thousands of other animal shows, expos, exhibitions, and trials will be forced to follow suit. The resulting economic impact on California would have been avoidable, especially during this recession.

Just the mere inclusion of the word "display" can certainly be interpreted to include exhibition events such as dog shows. Is the intent of this bill to make criminals of those exhibitors who display their animals? Is it the intent of this bill to include exhibitors that display their animals that are for sale at these events which in many cases is a longtime tradition? Kittens, rabbits, birds and reptiles are often offered for sale at these shows.

"It shall be unlawful for any person to willfully display a live animal on any street, highway, public right-of-way, commercial parking lot, or…"

This phrase as written means no:

•walking the animal (a sidewalk is a public right-of-way)

•driving the animal (seen in the car window is a display on a street, highway, or public right-of-way)

•taking the animal to the vet or Petco (display in commercial parking lot)

It means animals shall be housebound and can’t even be taken to the vet or exercised by walking.

The Committee Analysis does recommend removing the comma after "display" and adding one after "transaction", but that’s insufficient. The words "trade, barter," were stuck from the bill bet ween the words "sell," and "display,". They struck the wrong words:

Better wording:

Replace "display," with "barter, trade,"

Strike the "or" before "offer for sale"

Add a comma after "transaction"

"It shall be unlawful for any person to willfully sell, barter, trade, offer for sale or give away as part of a commercial transaction, a live animal on any street, highway, public right-of-way, commercial parking lot, or at any outdoor special sale, swap meet, flea market, parking lot sale, carnival, or boardwalk."

That gets an animal being seen in public as no longer a crime and puts the onus on the transaction itself, where it belongs.

In addressing the issue of making criminals out of now presently law abiding citizens, let’s examine this part of the bill:

Section 597.4 is added to the penal code to read;

(b) (1) A person who violates this section for the first time

shall be guilty of an infraction punishable by a fine not to exceed

two hundred fifty dollars ($250).

(2) A person who violates this section for the first time and by

that violation either causes or permits any animal to suffer or be

injured, or causes or permits any animal to be placed in a situation

in which its life or health may be endangered , shall be

guilty of a misdemeanor.

&nbs p; (3) A person who violates this section for a second or subsequent

time shall be guilty of a misdemeanor.

(c) A person who is guilty of a misdemeanor violation of this

section shall be punishable by a fine not to exceed one thousand

dollars ($1,000) per violation; the court shall weigh the gravity of

the violation in setting the fine.

We respectfully ask what is the intent of this section:

(2) A PERSON WHO VIOLATES THIS SECTION FOR THE FIRST TIME AND BY THAT

VIOLATION EITHER CAUSES OR PERMITS ANY ANIMAL TO SUFFER OR BE INJURED OR

CAUSE OR PERMIT ANY ANIMAL TO BE PLACED IN A SITUATION IN WHICH ITS LIFE

OR HEALTH MAY BE ENDANGERED SHALL BE GUILTY OF A MISDEMEANOR ...

This is out of place here and does not seem to fit with the rest of the bill but could be misused as a catchall for all sorts of things. Any sporting event an animal participates in involves risks: agility competitions, horse jumping events, hunting and most certainly rodeos ..... It appears on the face to apply even if the animal(s) are not injured, just the potential of harm is good enough for being guilty of breaking the law. There is no mention of intent and thereby, even accidents could be included such as a traffic accident involving a horse trailer where the horse is injured. This is so vague that it could be used to harass anyone with a working animal or use any incidental injury as a Penal code violation.

d) A notice describing the charge and the penalty for a violation

of this section may be issued by any peace officer; animal control

officer, as defined in Section 830.9; or humane officer qualified

pursuant to Section 14502 or 14503 of the Corporations Code.

Animal Control is not a non profit approved by the IRS and state of California. It is a PRIVATE MUNICIPAL CORPORATION which is a PRIVATE CORPORATION. They do NOT get their powers (which they don’t have anyway) from 14500 thru 14503. A Municipal Corporation is a PRIVATE CORPORATION. That’s why Animal Control cannot be delegated powers by the Legislature. Only police departments/sheriff’s offices are state trained and certified, and therefore, state authorized government law enforcement. Peace Officer salaries etc. are partially funded by the state. They are in effect State Officers. Animal Control officers are NOT funded in any way by the state. They can try to read it any way they want, but it remains unconstitutional to delegate law enforcement powers to private entities. The CORPORATE CODE IS NOT ABOUT STATE LAW ENFORCEMENT. IT IS ABOUT PRIVATE CORPORATIONS.

To equate animal control officers and humane officers with the same powers, responsibilities, risks and arming them as peace officers will surely lead to demands for the same salaries, pensions and other benefits that will amount to hundreds of millions of dollars in costs to the state annually. Humane Officers are a huge liability to the state because of vague laws, implied powers and the resulting deaths and damages to the citizens of the State of California . (Pending WRONGFUL DEATH LAWSUIT of senior citizen, Los Angeles ). We are deeply concerned that the unconstitutional transfer of police power to "humane officers" casually mentioned as enforcing parties will serve to only expand illegal actions by so-called "humane" organizations against innocent Californians and their animals. The California Constitution clearly and emphatically states that no law may be enacted that would confer power to private corporations.

The Corporations Code illegally grants powers to a Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, and Humane Society, a private corporation, the ability to authorize employees of that corporation, to enforce peace officer powers of arrest, enforcement of warrants, carry a loaded firearm while on duty, and powers to affect an arrest using force. While a Judge of a local Superior Court is involved in the appointment of a Humane Officer, the court itself does not grant these powers. The Corporations Code allows privately employed humane officers to illegally display and wear a law enforcement badge. While the Corporations Code requires certain educational qualifications, these qualifications are not certified by the Commission on Peace Officers Standards and Training. The Corporations Code illegally requires local cities and counties to pay $500.00 to a private corporation to augment the salaries of Humane Officers.

What IS THE DEFINITION OF POLICE POWERS IN THE CALIFORNIA CONSTITUTION? There is none as there is no such thing as police powers - it is VOID for vagueness. This is why VOID FOR VAGUENESS is described in our California Constitution just for laws like CPC 830.9, CPC 832, CPC 836 and many more that are complicit with and lobbyied for by the Animal Rights syndicate. These laws are left to interpretation for the layman and the untrained and heavily armed humane officers that prey on the citizens through illegal search and seizures of property with/without illegally issued warrants from judges who also don’t understand the California Legislature’s vague laws. VOID FOR VAGUENESS creates the unconstitutional 5th Amendment Takings of Citizen’s Constitutional Rights to own and sell Property; and Interferes with the Commerce Code of the United States and the basic principals of Free Enterprise.

AB 1122 states that animals (private property) cannot be sold from public property which could also face challenge due to three California precedent cases: putting for sale signs on a vehicle parked on the street, (Ventura County and City of Los Angeles); limiting yard sales (City of Los Angeles) all violating the constitutional rights of free enterprise, the right to sell property and limiting commerce. (Cases supplied upon request)

Article 2. SEC. 12. No amendment to the Constitution, and no statute proposed to the electors by the Legislature or by initiative, that names any individual to hold any office, or names or identifies any private corporation to perform any function or to have any power or duty, may be submitted to the electors or have any effect.

We respectfully request that the words "animal control and humane officers" be struck from this bill and that exemptions be added protecting events such as obedience trials, cat and dog shows, horse competitive conformation and sporting events, rescue missions, animal transport and many more events nearly too numerous to mention that would be jeopardized by broad interpretation of AB 1122.

THE BILL STATES ANIMAL CONTROL AND HUMANE ORGANIZATIONS ARE EXEMPT. WHY?

ANIMAL CONTROL AND HUMANE ORGANIZATIONS SHOULD NEVER BE EXEMPT WITH REGARD TO ANY CRUELTY LEGISLATION. HOW CAN WE ALLOW EXEMPTION OF THOSE WHO ARE SUPPOSEDLY THERE TO PROTECT AND SERVE FROM THE SAME LAWS WE MUST FOLLOW?

(See Attached recent photos from the SPCA of LA and Los Angeles County Animal Control. DVD available.)

In the interest of correct legislative code designation of this bill now under SECTION 1. Section 597.4 is added to the Penal Code, to read:

597.4., we suggest that due to the context within of "sale of animals", it should instead be placed under the following codes:

Food and Agriculture Code 16441.5 (Civil Penalties and Remedies) (new) for horses and other livestock;

Food & Agriculture Code 30505 (General Provisions) (new), or 30950 (Regulation) (new), or 31400 (Violations) for all other animal sales.

If the true intent of the proposed legislation is to eliminate the sale of puppies which have been smuggled in from Mexico to be sold at flea markets in Southern California, there are already laws that can and should be enforced to the fullest extent, and there are federal agencies that handle this type of crime, including the U.S. Border Patrol Puppy Task Force. There are, in fact, figures published that such puppies are coming across the border in the thousands, many dying in transit. The proposed legislation as written, if enforced against all private individuals with a single litter of puppies, will use so much manpower and budget dollars that it will compromise and negatively impact the strategy needed to control and eliminate the illegal importation and sale of puppies and will create an increasing hazard to health of both humans and animals in the State of California. If domestic born puppies are confiscated by animal control agencies and confined with sickly imports they will be put at risk of contracting contagious diseases, potentially resulting in death, creating an even greater burden on State and County budgets. To place these puppies into shelters places them in harm’s way and the unnecessary tax burden on both local and state government and already overburdened budgets is something that State and local governments cannot afford.

Yet, another aspect should be discussed in light of public safety. Many people sell or place rescued animals do so in public places to protect their families and homes from becoming a target for criminals. One highly publicized crime occurred in which the family was selling a litter of Yorkshire Terrier puppies and invited the prospective buyers to come to their house to view the pups and parents. What happened next was a home invasion with multiple armed assailants in which the family was terrorized at gunpoint and the pups including the mother dog were stolen, which was all captured on the family’s home security videotape system. Even now, this type of home invasion and robbery is ever more prevalent to even those re-selling vehicles or even furniture. It has long been known that in many cases the visitors inspecting puppies at the breeder’s residence for purchase return later to steal the pups out of the family’s yard. Taking away the ability for people to act in the interest of their own security by meeting in a public place should not be removed as an option as violent crime could escalate which would be a far worse outcome than the present issue AB 1122 tries to solve.

Furthermore, to avoid criminalizing an entire sector of presently law-abiding citizens, as well as addressing the fact that this bill creates a new "crime" consideration should be duly given to the protocol for crime or infraction laws. In many cases, when a new crime or infraction thereof, is put into law, such as the seat-belt and cell phone laws, the first offense merits only a WARNING. Second offense would be better served with a mandatory assignment of community service within the local municipal animal shelter; and any subsequent offenses be designated as civil offenses with appropriate fines. To place this new offense of "selling animals" within the Penal Code, will only serve to increase enforcement costs to the State and thereby costs will be passed down to the taxpayer. There should also be exclusions of any concurrent charges for the same event.

Please do not hesitate to contact us for further clarification and input. We deeply appreciate this opportunity to address our concerns and grievances with you.

Sincerely,

 

Diane Amble

Director

For those of you that read this all the way through, thank you, for knowledge is POWER and we hope you will take this POWER and use it! For those of you that helped compile this letter, God bless you all! 

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