Thursday, June 07, 2007

The nanny state, redux

Add to the list of brilliant legislation being considered by the Golden State a bill which would require all pets to be spayed or neutered. If this becomes law (and it's already passed the state Assembly), mutt owners will be fined for not altering their pets, and owners of registered purebreds will be eligible for an exemption--for a price, of course.

Yes, this bill has good intentions. Overpopulation, abuse and neglect, and lack of appropriate housing are serious problems in these parts, and not just for H. sapiens. If everyone would just prevent their pets from breeding, maybe we wouldn't have such problems.

There oughta be a law, right?

Be careful what you wish for. In the words of Assemblyman Doug LaMalfa, R-Richvale (Butte County):

"This is a prime example of why this Legislature becomes a laughingstock, when we want to reach into that personal aspect of peoples' lives telling them this is how you need to handle your animals' reproductive capacity. We ought to be tackling other issues."

I can't believe I'm saying this, but I agree with a California Republican.

Let's imagine that this bill becomes law, and it is fully enforced. As only registered purebreds will be allowed to keep their 'nads, after a certain number of generations the only animals available for sale or adoption will be either purebreds themselves (and thus allowed to reproduce) or a cross between two different breeds (and thus prohibited from reproducing). Mutts, lacking the necessary equipment to pass along their variegated legacies, would become artificially selected out of the population.

Hypothetical as this situation may be, it sounds an awful lot like a really scary thing that begins with an E and ends with a UGENICS.

I made a comment to this effect to Mrs. Gerbil this morning. She reminded me that just because a law is on the books doesn't mean that everyone is going to obey it. This is true. However, why bother to pass a law which you don't want everyone to follow? Why incorporate penalties (like a $500 fine), if not to deter lawbreaking?

I have a better idea. Instead of giving the state the power to determine who's worthy of breeding, why not fund sliding-scale (or even free) spay/neuter clinics? There's nothing inherently wrong with mutts that their owners shouldn't have a choice about whether to have them altered--just as there's nothing inherently wrong with purebreds.

And, if you think about it, mutts are pretty darn consistent with the (often over-hyped) Californian ideals of diversity and multiculturalism.

PS. For the record, our furry bundle of joy was spayed twice before we adopted her. The shelter mistook a post-op Josie for another calico and (somehow failing to notice her shaven, stitched-up underparts) opened her up again before realizing their error.

3 comments:

Lea said...

If that law passes, the furry population in CA will be like the human population in West Virginia.

Ya mama is ya aunt and ya daddy is ya brother.

Lavender said...

I agree with you there. If spay/neuter wasn't over $100 a pet, then more people would be willing to do it. Setting a law up won't make people follow it, especially when it's so expensive. It could probably be argued that the law is unfair to those lower on the income scale, as they are more likely to be pet owners but less likely to be able to afford the surgeries.

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