July 25, 2008

'Pet trusts' and 'no downer' legislation

By pawlitico

There's a lot going on in California pawlitics these days. Governor Schwarzenegger's Labrador Retrievers, Spunky and Gustav, along with Cockapoo Sarge, say their guardian/governor signed two important animal protection bills into law this week.

Governor Schwarzenegger kisses Lab dog Gustav
The first is California Senate Bill 685 (SB 685) for the enforcement of pet trusts. The bill was authored by Senator Leland Yee (D-San Francisco/San Mateo), and its passage brings peace of mind to people who need to know that the trusts they establish for the care of pets will be legally enforceable.

According to the office of Senator Yee, SB 685, which goes into effect January 1, 2009, is "expected to reduce the burden on pet shelters, conserve public services and funds, protect defenseless animals, and guarantee that people’s wills are carried out as intended."

The San Francisco SPCA and the American SPCA (ASPCA) sponsored this bill, with support from the following groups:
The second piece of animal protection legislation is "no downers" Assembly Bill 2098, introduced by Assemblymember Paul Krekorian (D-Burbank). AB 2098 will prohibit any slaughterhouse, stockyard, or animal auction from selling meat or products from downed animals for human consumption. The law imposes stiff criminal penalties on those who sell such products. It also requires immediate action to either humanely euthanize a downed animal or provide veterinary treatment.

The AB 2098 bill is a great step forward in protecting animals as well as human food safety. It strengthens the initial downer legislation passed in California in 1994.

This legislation came about as a direct result of the 2008 downed-animal abuse scandal at a meat packing company. In January, the USDA learned of inhumane handling of downed cattle (non-ambulatory or disabled cattle) at Hallmark/Westland Meat Packing Company in Chino. In February, the company "voluntarily" recalled over 143 million pounds (65 million kilograms) of raw and frozen beef products because of the USDA's investigation into its animal cruelty practices.

Animal lovers who'd like to increase farm animal protection in California or other states and also nationwide should consider supporting Farm Sanctuary. This organization works to stop cruel practices in the "food animal" industry through research, investigations, legal and institutional reforms, public awareness and education projects, rescue efforts, and by providing lifelong refuge for hundreds of rescued animals.

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