California’s ban on foie gras, set to take effect July 1, has been debated nationwide by chefs, diners, animal advocates and lawmakers.
Supporters of the law suspect some influential chefs will try to overturn the ban by introducing a new bill. Foie gras comes from the livers of ducks and geese that have been force-fed to quickly fatten them — a practice that animal-rights groups decry as inhumane while supporters maintain does not harm the fowl.
Lawmakers adopted the measure in 2004, but delayed implementation to give producers time to adapt. The Golden Gate Restaurant Association, which did not return emails seeking comment, has reportedly hired lobbyists to lay the groundwork for new legislation.
John Burton, a former state senator from San Francisco who authored the original bill, has sent lawmakers a letter accusing the chefs and a foie gras producer of backpedaling from a 2004 compromise.
Sen. Ted Lieu, D-Torrance, is carrying Senate Bill 1221, which would ban hunters from using hounds when chasing bears and bobcats. Lieu said the dogs can hurt animals other than the intended prey. Also, the bears or bobcats could turn and harm the dogs.
Lieu said he doesn’t hunt. “But I know there are hunters who hunt bears without hounds. It’s doable,” he said.
Joe Sovinsky, director of Wilderness Unlimited in San Diego, does hunt bears without hounds. But he thinks hunters should be allowed to use dogs if they wish.
“The houndsmen who run their dogs (after bears) are respective people. They love their dogs,” he said. An advantage is that a treed bear can be checked first to make sure it is not a cub or a pregnant or nursing female.
That’s one of the points raised by Josh Brones, president of California Houndsmen for Conservation based in Sacramento County.
“Using dogs allows you to catch and release,” Brones said.
Ali Crumpacker, director of the Ramona-based Animal Care Center that includes 16 rescued bobcats, is not swayed. She said her primary concern is the danger to the dogs.
“Bobcats fight back. It’s not uncommon to find dogs are injured,” she said. “These cats can be pretty vicious.”
• Repealing a mandate that the state reimburse local governments when strays are kept longer than three days in shelters. The requirement cost the state $46.3 million over the past two years. Gov. Jerry Brown proposes to not cover the extra days, but animal-rights advocates say that will force financially challenged shelters to euthanize animals more quickly.
• Senate Bill 1229 would bar landowners from requiring tenants to have their pets declawed or “devocalized.”
• Senate Bill 1145 would increase penalties for cockfighting, including fines on spectators.
Assemblyman Martin Garrick, R-Solana Beach, has stepped into a long-simmering issue about who is allowed to perform a teeth-cleaning process called scaling. Veterinarians say they should have exclusivity given the necessary training and the risk involved, but mobile pet-care specialists say scaling is safe and they can do it cheaper.
The California Veterinary Medical Board is considering whether to ban mobile cleaners from doing scaling. That’s where Garrick’s Assembly Bill 2304 comes in. He wants to make sure mobile cleaners can use scaling devices.
Veterinarians “are desperate to retain any revenue stream they possibly can. Teeth cleaning is one of them,” said Cindy Collins, president of Canine Care, which has about 600 locations statewide. Putting animals under anesthesia so vets can do extensive scaling is expensive and a health risk, she said.
Contra Costa County veterinarian Jay Kerr counters that most mobile scaling services are rendered without training and can lacerate the animals’ gums or worse.
“There are pets being harmed by this procedure. Pet owners are being misled,” said Kerr, president of the California Veterinary Medical Association. Kerr said going to a vet can also detect more serious health problems early, saving owners money and sometimes the lives of pets.
Andy Jecusco, who runs Breath Savers Pet Dental Care out of Irvine, said he usually works in conjunction with a vet. He charges a $150 flat fee and is in the San Diego area about six days a month.
Jecusco, who said he trained under a vet in Colorado, said he needs the right to use a scaler. That’s because more routine — and less expensive cleaning — helps prevent disease, he said, while owners are urged to bring their pets to a vet if he sees certain problems.
Sen. Juan Vargas, D-San Diego, sparked backlash when he submitted Senate Bill 969 to force pet groomers to obtain licenses and comply with a list of other regulations.
Vargas, in an interview, said his legislation will be “ratcheted down” to call for a voluntary certification system overseen by an appointed council consisting of representatives for the SPCA, groomers and lawyers.
He conceded that licenses are “onerous and expensive.”
But he declines to back down from a number of stipulations in the bill, including insurance requirements, tracking specific information about each pet and owner, proof of vaccinations and cages for animals not being groomed.
San Diego groomer Eileen Hecker, who owns Hot Dogity Do’s, said the legislation still goes too far. One example: the cage requirement.
“I can think of six dogs that if I put them in a cage will go ballistic,” she said. Cage-free “creates a better, happier environment for the dog.”
Hecker said she already has a certificate, spending $4,000 to go to school.
“How are most groomers going to afford that? Groomers don’t make that much money. We do it because we love animals,” Hecker said.
Vargas said oversight is necessary because too many pets are being harmed by inexperienced, unregulated groomers.