Ensuring the well-being of our pets and wildlife is one of my big priorities in Sacramento. I am a trained Project Wildlife Native Songbird Rehabilitator, and my experience raising orphaned and injured songbirds and returning them to the wild has guided me in legislation I introduce and support. I’m happy to report that most of that legislation has been signed into law.
For example, my legislation created the Native California Wildlife Rehabilitation Voluntary Fund, allowing taxpayers to check off contributions on their tax returns to support injured or sick wildlife. Another bill prohibits the sale or transfer of shelter animals to research facilities for experimentation or testing. I co-authored legislation requiring any public or private college or university that uses dogs or cats for research to offer those animals for adoption once they are no longer needed, along with a bill that protects good Samaritans who break into hot cars to rescue trapped animals. Another co-authored bill prevents the sale of wild horses for slaughter when purchased at public auction, along with legislation that bans the use of mile long drift gill nets, which often have severe unintended consequences for species like whales, dolphins and sea lions.
Since researchers have established significant correlations between animal abuse, child abuse, domestic violence, elder abuse and other violent crimes, sentencing options currently available for persons convicted of animal abuse need to be strengthened. That’s why I introduced AB 829 this year. The bill will expand current counseling requirements for those on probation for animal abuse, while giving judges discretion to order mental health evaluations for animal abusers if deemed appropriate based on evidence presented during the trial.
Appropriate mental health counseling and evaluation are important tools that can protect animals, enhance public safety and reduce recidivism. Until now, those tools have been inadequate. That will change when AB 829 becomes law.
Assemblymember Marie Waldron, R- Valley Center, represents the 75th Assembly District in the California Legislature, which includes the cities of Poway, Santee, portions of the City of San Diego, and most of rural eastern and northern San Diego County.