Guest post: Calling all California voters! Support SB 917! »
[Olivia, celebrity pig!]
In 2004, a teenage girl witnessed the sale of potbellied piglets in a parking lot. Concerned, she approached the individual and inquired about the pigs. The man stated some were sold for pets, a couple for meat, and the last one would possibly be purchased by someone who would eventually eat her. Appalled, the girl implored the man to give her the piglet. Moved by her emotional response, he obliged, and the young woman left with a squirming, screaming pig.
Later, she and her parents called Animal Place and shared the story of the piglet. The sanctuary, already home to seven potbellied pigs, agreed to take in the animal. She was later named Olivia and is a crowd favorite at tours, with her rotund belly and drama-queen personality.
When the family asked us about the legalities of selling animals in parking lots, Animal Place explained it was allowed in California. In fact, animals can be sold alongside highways, at carnivals and boardwalks, and at any public right of way. There is no legal oversight or protection given to these animals.
In 2009, Animal Place, along with several other animal welfare organizations, worked with then-California state Assemblyman Ted Lieu to ban the practice of selling animals at flea markets and in parking lots. Unbeknown to us, there is a flea market coalition in California that apparently has more clout than an association of animal advocacy groups—the bill ended up failing.
But Mr. Lieu did not give up. This year, as a senator, he has introduced SB 917, which not only bans the sale of animals in certain areas but also tightens up the penalties for animal abuse. The bill would prohibit puppies and kittens from being sold out of boxes in supermarket parking lots. It would stop the practice of selling amphibians, reptiles and other species alongside highways and streets. It is sadly ridiculous that this law needs to be introduced at all—every city and county should have already banned these practices in the state.
It exempts livestock auctions, 4-H/FFA events, public/private animal shelters, state/county/city fairs, and live animal markets. Which is great for shelters, so they can continue offering meet and greets for adoptable animals, not so great for farmed animals and smaller animals who will still be sold with no legal protection at auctions and flea markets, but it’s a great start to solving a serious animal welfare problem.
Passing a bill is no easy task, and this bill will face its own hurdles. Californians can help by voicing their support for SB 917—that is a very simple thing to do!
If you can only write one letter or make one phone call, make sure to contact Senator Lieu and thank him for introducing SB 917, providing such basic, commonsense protections to the animals:
The Honorable Ted Lieu
State Capitol, Room 4090
Sacramento, CA, 95814
Phone: (916) 651-4028. All you need to say is that you are a registered California voter and want to express your support of SB 917, done!
Want to make more of an impact? ContactPublic Safety Committee Chair Senator Loni Hancock and urge her support of SB 917:
The Honorable Loni Hancock
State Capitol, Room 2082
Sacramento, CA 9581
The first hearing for SB 917 is scheduled for Apr. 12, so get your letters and phone calls in soon! It’s so easy to make a difference for animals, all you need to do is pen a short letter or make a brief phone call! Olivia thanks you—but only if you give her vegan cupcakes first.
Marji Beach is the ridiculously awesome Education Manager for Animal Place. She’s super smart, so you should listen to her.