Animal Protection Amendment Act of 2007

The Animal Protection Amendment of 2007 is currently being reviewed by the DC City Council. It contains a wide range of animal-related legislation, among others.

Highlights of the significant items in this amendment:

  • Establishes economic and non-economic damages for vet malpractice
  • Establishes liability for economic and non-economic damages for the death of a companion animal
  • Mandatory spay/neuter of dogs and cats over 6 months
  • Requires reporting of animal cruelty by law enforcement officers
  • Makes it a felony to be a spectator at an animal fight, and sets standards for kennels and catteries

More information about the Animal Protection Amendment Act of 2007 after the jump.

(Thanks Karen)

Here is a full summary of the Animal Protection Amendment Act of 2007:

Allow courts to order counseling, treatment, community service, or forfeiture of the right to possess animals in cases of animal cruelty; requires reporting of animal cruelty by law enforcement officers; makes it a felony to be a spectator at an animal fight; mandatory spay/neuter of dogs and cats over 6 months; requires permits for breeding; defines dangerous dog, sets out procedure for determining that a dog is a “dangerous dog”, and sets out requirements for owners of dangerous dogs; requires licensing of veterinarians; establishes economic and noneconomic damages for vet malpractice; requires cross reporting by humane officers and law enforcement officers; prohibits pound seizure; requires immunization of guard dogs; prohibits debarking; requires owners of guard dogs to have liability insurance; sets out humane standards for guard dogs; sets standards for kennels and catteries; sets standards for animals kept in classrooms; allows nonprofits to sue to enjoin animal cruelty; establishes liability for economic and noneconomic damages for the death of a companion animal; requires the inclusion of domestic animals in a disaster plan.

Here is the complete document of the Animal Protection Amendment of 2007.

A petition has also been established in support of one of the elements in this bill. Read a petition regarding the Animal Protection Amendment Act of 2007.

5 Responses to “Animal Protection Amendment Act of 2007”

  1. Cynthia (cynthiak23) says:

    My feeling about this issue still stands.

    AB 1634

    One problem is, people hear one thing about a bill and they think it’s good without researching it further. Before promoting any bill please look at all the facts and viewpoints, even if it’s something you don’t want to hear, This bill has serious flaws and needs to be reworked.

    Having a pet spayed or neutered before puberty is dangerous! I would NEVER consider having it done at 6 MONTHS!

    The sex hormones are needed for achieving peak bone density, healthy growth and development. Puppies that are sterilized before they are physically mature and their growth plates have closed can be identified by their longer limbs, a lighter bone structure, narrow chests and narrow skulls . Some may also be more prone to suffer CCL rupture, in addition to the risks listed above.

    Early Spay-Neuter Considerations
    for the Canine Athlete
    One Veterinarian’s Opinion
    © 2005 Chris Zink DVM, PhD, DACVP

    Those of us with responsibility for the health of canine athletes need to continually read and evaluate new scientific studies to ensure that we are taking the most appropriate care of our performance dogs. This article provides evidence through a number of recent studies to suggest that veterinarians and owners working with canine athletes should revisit the standard protocol in which all dogs that are not intended for breeding are spayed and neutered at or before 6 months of age.

    Orthopedic Considerations
    A study by Salmeri et al in 1991 found that bitches spayed at 7 weeks grew significantly taller than those spayed at 7 months, who were taller than those not spayed (or presumably spayed after the growth plates had closed).(1) A study of 1444 Golden Retrievers performed in 1998 and 1999 also found bitches and dogs spayed and neutered at less than a year of age were significantly taller than those spayed or neutered at more than a year of age.(2) The sex hormones, by communicating with a number of other growth-related hormones, promote the closure of the growth plates at puberty (3), so the bones of dogs or bitches neutered or spayed before puberty continue to grow. Dogs that have been spayed or neutered well before puberty can frequently be identified by their longer limbs, lighter bone structure, narrow chests and narrow skulls. This abnormal growth frequently results in significant alterations in body proportions and particularly the lengths (and therefore weights) of certain bones relative to others. For example, if the femur has achieved its genetically determined normal length at 8 months when a dog gets spayed or neutered, but the tibia, which normally stops growing at 12 to 14 months of age continues to grow, then an abnormal angle may develop at the stifle. In addition, with the extra growth, the lower leg below the stifle likely becomes heavier (because it is longer), and may cause increased stresses on the cranial cruciate ligament. In addition, sex hormones are critical for achieving peak bone density.(4) These structural and physiological alterations may be the reason why at least one recent study showed that spayed and neutered dogs had a higher incidence of CCL rupture.(5) Another recent study showed that dogs spayed or neutered before 5 1/2 months had a significantly higher incidence of hip dysplasia than those spayed or neutered after 5 1/2 months of age, although it should be noted that in this study there were no standard criteria for the diagnosis of hip dysplasia.(6) Nonetheless, breeders of purebred dogs should be cognizant of these studies and should consider whether or not pups they bred were spayed or neutered when considering breeding decisions.

    Cancer Considerations
    A retrospective study of cardiac tumors in dogs showed that there was a 5 times greater risk of hemangiosarcoma, one of the three most common cancers in dogs, in spayed bitches than intact bitches and a 2.4 times greater risk of hemangiosarcoma in neutered dogs as compared to intact males.(7) A study of 3218 dogs demonstrated that dogs that were neutered before a year of age had a significantly increased chance of developing bone cancer.(8) A separate study showed that neutered dogs had a two-fold higher risk of developing bone cancer.(9) Despite the common belief that neutering dogs helps prevent prostate cancer, at least one study suggests that neutering provides no benefit.(10) There certainly is evidence of a slightly increased risk of mammary cancer in female dogs after one heat cycle, and for increased risk with each subsequent heat. While about 30 % of mammary cancers are malignant, as in humans, when caught and surgically removed early the prognosis is very good.(12) Luckily, canine athletes are handled frequently and generally receive prompt veterinary care.

    Behavioral Considerations
    The study that identified a higher incidence of cranial cruciate ligament rupture in spayed or neutered dogs also identified an increased incidence of sexual behaviors in males and females that were neutered early.(5) Further, the study that identified a higher incidence of hip dysplasia in dogs neutered or spayed before 5 1/2 months also showed that early age gonadectomy was associated with an increased incidence of noise phobias and undesirable sexual behaviors.(6) A recent report of the American Kennel Club Canine Health Foundation reported significantly more behavioral problems in spayed and neutered bitches and dogs. The most commonly observed behavioral problem in spayed females was fearful behavior and the most common problem in males was aggression.(12)

    Other Health Considerations
    A number of studies have shown that there is an increase in the incidence of female urinary incontinence in dogs spayed early (13), although this finding has not been universal. Certainly there is evidence that ovarian hormones are critical for maintenance of genital tissue structure and contractility.(14, 15) Neutering also has been associated with an increased likelihood of urethral sphincter incontinence in males.(16) This problem is an inconvenience, and not usually life-threatening, but nonetheless one that requires the dog to be medicated for life. A health survey of several thousand Golden Retrievers showed that spayed or neutered dogs were more likely to develop hypothyroidism.(2) This study is consistent with the results of another study in which neutering and spaying was determined to be the most significant gender-associated risk factor for development of hypothyroidism.(17) Infectious diseases were more common in dogs that were spayed or neutered at 24 weeks or less as opposed to those undergoing gonadectomy at more than 24 weeks.(18) Finally, the AKC-CHF report demonstrated a higher incidence of adverse reactions to vaccines in neutered dogs as compared to intact.(12)

    I have gathered these studies to show that our practice of routinely spaying or neutering every dog at or before the age of 6 months is not a black-and-white issue. Clearly more studies need to be done to evaluate the effects of prepubertal spaying and neutering, particularly in canine athletes.

    Currently, I have significant concerns with spaying or neutering canine athletes before puberty. But of course, there is the pet overpopulation problem. How can we prevent the production of unwanted dogs while still leaving the gonads to produce the hormones that are so important to canine growth and development? One answer would be to perform vasectomies in males and tubal ligation in females, to be followed after maturity by ovariohysterectomy in females to prevent mammary cancer and pyometra. One possible disadvantage is that vasectomy does not prevent some unwanted behaviors associated with males such as marking and humping. On the other hand, females and neutered males frequently participate in these behaviors too. Really, training is the best solution for these issues. Another possible disadvantage is finding a veterinarian who is experienced in performing these procedures. Nonetheless, some do, and if the procedures were in greater demand, more veterinarians would learn them.

    I believe it is important that we assess each situation individually. For canine athletes, I currently recommend that dogs and bitches be spayed or neutered after 14 months of age.

    Reasons for Opposition
    Health Considerations of Our Animals

    AB 1634 does not address the health considerations associated with spaying and neutering animals at an early age, especially affecting the long-term health of working breeds or any dog (purebred or mixed breed) that participates in working or athletic events.
    • Orthopedic Considerations: abnormal bone growth due to lack of sex hormones; lower bone density due to lack of sex hormones; increase incidence of CCL rupture; increased incidence of hip

    • Cancer Considerations: greater risk for hemangiosarcoma and bone cancers

    • Incontinence Considerations: in both sexes due to lack of sex hormones, estrogen and testosterone

    • Behavioral Considerations: increased incidence of fearful behavior and phobias; aggressive behavior

    • Metabolic Considerations: increased risk of hypothyroidism, acute fatal pancreatitis, diabetes, obesity…

    • Infectious Disease considerations: increased incidence of infectious disease

    • Surgical Considerations: surgical complications, anesthetic complications pediatrics and geriatrics, cardiac arrhythmias

    • Vaccine Considerations: increased incidence of adverse reactions to vaccines

  2. Cynthia (cynthiak23) says:

    This is why C.O.P.S (California Organization of Police and Sheriffs.) is so against this. This is their reason…

    To: California Legislature

    From: (Your name and email)


    Dear California Legislature,

    We join COPS, the United States Police Canine Association, the Western States Police Canine Association, the North American Police Work dog Association and the Canine Specialized Search Team in opposition to California Assembly Bill 1634.

    The legislation has been craftily titled the “Healthy Pets Act” but the effect would be to force the surgical sterilization of all dogs and cats. Elimination of future police dogs would devastate police K-9 departments. AB 1634 would also eliminate many guide dogs for the blind and service dogs for the disabled.

    The bill mandates all dogs and cats must be neutered at four months of age, with few exemptions. And the remaining pure bred animals with exemptions would be taxed and regulated by a newly created government bureaucracy.

    The legislation even threatens criminal penalties for pet owners– we don’t want police spending time arresting citizens for having unneutered cats and dogs!

    Nearly all working police dogs were once somebody’s pet dog. They are bought as young pups, placed with families, and then if they pass all the working and health tests, eventually they may end up with a police department. If AB 1634 passes, these future police dogs would be sterilized before making it into police work. Neutering all non-breeding K-9’s will destroy law enforcements ability to have successful K-9 departments.

    It is already difficult for law enforcement to find dogs that are suitable for police work. AB 1634 would make an already difficult task nearly impossible. AB 1634 would increase costs to the taxpayers to purchase dogs from a shrinking supply of suitable dogs.

    Th AB 1634 takes away the rights of law abiding citizens, discriminates against our disabled citizens, and creates new taxes and government bureaucracies to regulate our dogs and cats. We don’t need AB 1634.

    (Your name)

  3. trucorgi says:

    “It contains a wide range of animal-related legislation, among others.”
    Wrong! It contains a wide range (48 pages worth) of ANIMAL RIGHTS legislation.
    Itchmo has linked to the HSUS (animal rights) summary on this. What was conveniently left out of that summary is that it changes the language in every single law from owner to guardian. This is the crux of the situation. Make so mistake about it. Look beyond the fluff. This is the real purpose of the law. Many of the other things are already covered in the currant DC laws. Does anyone really think that animal cruelty and dog fighting are not already outlawed in DC? “Requires licensing of veterinarians” Does anyone really think that vets are NOT already licensed in DC? By promoting the HSUS talking points, it shows Itchmo’s obvious bias toward animal rights legislation. Very disappointing.

    Here’s the CFA’s summary:

    A draconian DC ordinance, titled the “Animal Protection Amendment Act” is a serious affront to pet ownership giving power to animal activist groups to invade private property and confiscate pets. This ordinance includes the term “guardian”. Mandatory spay/neuter is required unless a person obtains a breeder permit; with many requirements including inspection, standards of care and certain vaccinations. Veterinarians are subjected to new liability standards that may include both economic and non-economic damages.
    • Mandatory spay/neuter of all cats/dogs 6 months or older unless a person possesses a breeding permit.
    • The breeding permit means describing the number and type of animals and inspection. If approved the permit holder cannot exceed the number or type of animals in the permit. Anyone with ONE dog or cat “capable of breeding” will be treated as a commercial breeder. Fees are not specified so they could be extremely high as is generally the case when home inspections are necessary.
    • The Mayor can revoke a permit and take away animals of any permit holder not in compliance with rules.
    • Any “non-profit” that claims to be “concerned with humane treatment of animals” may legally enter private property and confiscate the person’s animals. People with these powers would not be required to have any training. They need only bring a suit in the DC court, with sworn affidavit or testimony claiming the order is necessary. The pet owner would have no opportunity to defend the claim.
    • Kennel and cattery standards are included; records and certain immunizations are required. Not all breeders or owners want or need to vaccinate cats for FeLV or FIP but these are required.
    • The “guardian” term is inserted in the DC animal law. See the CFA guidance on the use of this term. In human laws guardians have wards and this sets up the potential of others challenging guardianship rights. The legal change may not be immediate but this sets the stage for eliminating the concept of pet ownership rights.
    • Non-economic damages for “loss of society, companionship, comfort, protection, love, affection, and services” mean veterinarians would be subjected to new liability. The cost of veterinary care will go up. Economic and non-economic damages are also extended to anyone else who intentionally or with gross negligence” causes the death of another’s companion animal.
    There is much more including dangerous dog law amendments, guard dogs, animal boarding facilities and humane education provisions.

  4. Stefani says:

    I STRONGLY support the provisions of this bill that woudl allow the recovery of non-economic damages when a veterinarian causes the death of a beloved family pet through gross negligence or intentional, unlawful acts of bad faith — like some of these horror stories we hear about vets who body slam animals into the surgery table or onto the floor. If and when things are done, there needs to be some legal remedy.

    I have had heartbreaking experiences with veterinary care gone wrong, so have many others — please read at and for just some of these stories.

    Currently if a DC resident’s pet were the victim of GROSS NEGLIGENCE by a vet — or worse, outright abuse — and the animal died, the owner would be limited to “market value” — which is usually nothing for those of us who have adopted from a shelter.

    You CFA people and others may have pets who are purebred and breeding, therefore YOU can recover economic damages. But please realize that those of us who adopt unpedigreed animals LOVE THEM AS LIVING BEINGS who share our lives. Why you should wish to deny us our day in court when negligence kills our pets — even though you HAVE your day in court because you have purebreds and may be making money off breeding or showing them — this is beyond me.

    Love of our animals needs to be recognized by the courts, not just their economic value.

    Negligence that is “gross” needs to be addressed, put on the books, adjudicated.


  5. Jack and Joan says:

    We are so grateful for this information since we had been told we must get our dog neutered at 6 months. This is our first dog, a golder retriever of 6 months. We just returned home from the vet to discuss our decision of our much loved “person” of the house, as we were told he must have surgery for severe hip dysplasia. Due to your information, we will not be having our much loved dog neutered until at least 14 months. Thank you!

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