Suzanne Potter California News Service
Photo Credit: Wikimedia Commons

SACRAMENTO, Calif. – A slew of animal protection bills moved forward in the California Legislature this week – including proposals to limit animal abuse, hunting, poisoning and trapping.

Senate Bill 580 would force people convicted of such serious crimes as aggravated cruelty, bestiality and hoarding to undergo mental-health evaluation and get treatment if necessary. Kim Kelly legislative affairs director with the Animal Legal Defense Fund says lawmakers are seeing the need to deal with people who abuse animals, before they hurt people.

“This is a way to intervene early on,” says Kelly. “Oftentimes, people who are violent towards animals, there might be an underlying issue. And so, this mental health evaluation would get to the root of the problem and hopefully get them appropriate counseling, so that we could stop the escalation.”

Assembly Bill 1788 would ban certain types of commercial rat poison that also harm wild animals that eat the carcasses. Other bills would ban trophy hunting of bobcats and commercial trapping of other animals for fur; forbid the use of certain endangered animals in circuses and criminalize the sale of most fur products.

Opponents of many of these bills say they represent government overreach.

California law makes it a misdemeanor to sexually assault an animal. But Kelly says the current definition is too narrow, and her group supports Assembly Bill 611 to change that.

“So, the bill would strengthen the law in California by expanding the definition, preventing offenders from possessing animals, and requiring veterinarians to report signs of animal sexual abuse to law enforcement,” says Kelly.

Currently, eight California cities ban the procedure of declawing cats because they say it is painful for the animal. Assembly Bill 1230 would institute that ban statewide.

Photo Caption: Traps set for wild animals often injure pets. Assembly Bill 273 would ban commercial trapping in California.