SACRAMENTO, Calif.–Citizen advocates and humane organizations from across California participating in Humane Lobby Day 2012 rallied Tuesday at the state capitol to urge passage of important animal protection legislation, including Senate Bill (S.B.) 1221, which would ban the cruel and unsporting practice of using dogs to chase down bears and bobcats, known as "hounding." The ASPCA® (The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals®), The Humane Society of the United States (The HSUS), Born Free USA, Lake Tahoe Humane Society & SPCA, the Marin Humane Society, Project Coyote, the Sacramento SPCA, the San Francisco SPCA, the Santa Cruz SPCA, and the Yolo County SPCA participated in Humane Lobby Day 2012.
"Humane Lobby Day provides an opportunity for California lawmakers to hear directly from their constituents and see how deeply California voters care about protecting bears, bobcats, and dogs from this abhorrent practice," said Nancy Perry, senior vice president of ASPCA Government Relations. "Hounding is not a sport, it is blatant animal cruelty as exhausted, frightened wild animals are chased, cornered and eventually shot."
"It's exciting to see such tremendous support from California citizens for enacting humane laws," said Jennifer Fearing, California senior state director for The HSUS. "We hope Sacramento lawmakers have listened to citizens' demands to take action to protect bears, bobcats and dogs from this inhumane and unsporting type of trophy hunting."
Hounding involves fitting packs of dogs with high-tech radio collars and GPS devices that allow the hunter to monitor the dogs' movement remotely. Dogs are released to chase a frightened wild animal, often for long distances, until the animal is exhausted and typically seeks refuge in a tree. At that point, the hunter approaches the cornered animal and shoots the bear or bobcat down from a limb.
In addition to the fatally injured bears and bobcats, the dogs suffer, too. In the course of defending themselves, bears have inflicted fatal injuries to dogs. And when these dogs are injured, it's often easier for their owners to dump them than to treat them. If a dog shows fear or can't keep up, he or she is often simply abandoned to starve to death. Due to this type of hunting, animal shelters are often inundated with cast-off or injured hunting dogs no longer wanted by their owners.
Humane Lobby Day participants attended the Assembly Water, Parks and Wildlife Committee hearing on S.B. 1221 and met with individual lawmakers throughout the day in support of the legislation. Introduced by Sen. Ted W. Lieu, D-Torrance, S.B. 1221 has 12 legislative co-authors, including Senate president pro tem Darrell Steinberg, D-Sacramento. Thousands of California ranchers, hunters and landowners have written or called in support of the bill, as well as dozens of animal protection, wildlife rehabilitation and animal sheltering organizations.