California Lawmakers Introduce Bill Of Rights For Dogs & Cats

A golden retriever and two kittens are sitting in a home after a pet adoption. The word "adoption" is written the chalkboard wall.

(Picture Credit: FatCamera/Getty Images)

In California, legislation is underway to potentially set up a Bill of Rights for dogs and cats.

If the bill is passed into law, every animal shelter and animal rescue group would need to adhere. Plus, much like restaurants do with health regulations, they’d also need to have a copy of the new rules on-premises.

Here’s what you should know about California’s new Bill of Rights for dogs and cats.

What Does A Bill Of Rights For Pets Look Like?

Assemblyman Miguel Santiago, a Democrat from Los Angeles, structured Assembly Bill 1881 around seven fundamental rights. For every dog and cat in California, the following provisions would be mandatory by law:

  • freedom from exploitation, cruelty, neglect, and abuse
  • a life of comfort, free of fear and anxiety
  • nutritious food, sanitary water and shelter in an appropriate and safe environment
  • preventative and therapeutic health care
  • proper identification through tags, microchips, and other humane means
  • spaying and neutering to prevent an unwanted litter

“These are basic rights that all creatures should have, especially dogs and cats,” Santiago expressed to The Sacramento Bee.

Judie Mancuso, president of the animal advocacy group Social Compassion in Legislation, sponsored the bill. “Those rights go beyond just food, water, and shelter,” she says.

“As stated in the bill, dogs and cats have the right to be respected as sentient beings that experience complex feelings that are common among living animals while being unique to each individual. We’re thrilled to be codifying this into law.”

Consequences For Violation

dog eagerly awaits adoption from the animal shelter

(Picture Credit: Bilgehan Tuzcu/Getty Images)

While the bill does include a provision to first warn, then fine, shelters and rescue groups who fail to comply, it does not punish citizens.

After an initial warning, a shelter or rescue would be fined $250 for each violation post warning. As for citizens, Santiago says that the bill is educational, as some parents are unaware of pet needs. “It sounds pretty simple, but we need to talk about it,” he says.

Currently, the bill is pending a legislative committee assignment. California’s Animal Welfare Association is reviewing the bill for proposed alterations.

Do you think this Bill of Rights for pets does enough to protect animals? Would you like to see a similar law in your area? Let us know in the comments below.