SB917 “Exemptions” Claimed? By Who?

We really do not care what any officials claim or do not claim re the new law in California, which is entitled “abuse”, the infamous SB917. Passed in its worst form ever, having been vetoed in years past. What the law states is based on what is written. For interpretation, intent, and construction, statutory construction is used. If in fact the legislature modifies the law in writing,that is one thing. If not, that’s another.

In general, rules of statutory interpretation include, but are not limited to:

  • Statutes should be internally consistent. A particular section of the statute should not be inconsistent with the rest of the statute.
  • When the legislature enumerates an exception to a rule, one can infer that there are no other exceptions.
  • When the legislature includes limiting language in an earlier version of a statute, but deletes it prior to enactment of the statute, it can be presumed that the limitation was not intended by the legislature.
  • The legislature is presumed to act intentionally and purposely when it includes language in one section but omits it in another.
  • Where legislation and case law conflict, courts generally presume that legislation takes precedence over case law.
  • The Rule of Lenity: in construing an ambiguous criminal statute, a court should resolve the ambiguity in favor of the defendant.
  • A court may also look at: the common usage of a word, case law, dictionaries, parallel reasoning, punctuation

Statutes are sometimes ambiguous enough to support more than one interpretation. In these cases, courts are free to interpret statutes themselves. Once a court interprets the statute, other courts usually will not go through the exercise again, but rather will enforce the statute as interpreted by the other court.

SO, if the law as written claims to exempt specific animals, and leaves out others, then there is a host of other animals that “might” be or “might not” be exempted. Shall we start taking the list of exotic animals?  Shall we start taking a list of seldom seen reptiles?  Shall we select service animals but ignore farm animals?  Shall we ignore dogs being trained for specific police work which are bought many miles to a wide open place like a tarmac or a courier pickup station, or a vet’s office?  Or should we ignore those and focus on just small dogs but not feral cats?  Some large rats but not small birds?

Should we start judging rats, snakes and other lifeforms that are not judged so we can be “exempted?”  Shall we make up more and more rules for shows, pageants, parades, exhibitions, vendor booths, giant expos, and anywhere animals are shown or sold, to cut out the selling?  Or shall we instead hire judges when none are needed because we are NOT “non profit?”  What would we do when the non profit group is negligent but exempt?  What should we do when the group which is NOT a non profit is NOT guilty but the non profit who is exempted IS guilty?

While it is true that laws when claimed to be invalid, are tested in part by the intent of the drafter, there are far more issues than just that. As we have stated over and again, this law as written is knowingly and intentionally written to allow “non profit” to be exempted while others are not exempted— from abuse.  It was specifically designed to thwart both selling and giving away, regardless of profit, cost, or whatever else.  It was specifically designed to allow any non profit, without more, to be EXEMPTED from ABUSE.

After all–this IS an abuse law? So any non profits that might be criminally negligent at a show are EXEMPT. Why on earth would anyone want a non profit to be EXEMPT? Shelters should not be exempt from abuse. Rescues should not be exempt from abuse. This is completely and utterly ludicrous. It completely flies in the face of the current penal code section on abuse.

Did the drafters intend that only people or groups which are NOT non profit be targets for the law?  Did the drafters intend to knowingly wipe out sales, transfers, displays, shows, or expos without “competition” or “judging” to be exempt?  Did the drafters intend to claim visiting a vet’s office and then selling the animal upon exit of vet’s office be deemed abuse?  Or handing off an animal to a new home because we had to transport it and we were standing on asphalt outside where we parked the vehicle?

Folks, California has been hoodwinked into believing that any damn fool can write legislation that is viable. HSUS wrote this law and it is not only flawed, we believe as applied it is unconstitutional.  We believe that it was done knowingly, just as the HSUS statute outlawing “depictions of animal abuse” was found unconstitutional.  HSUS is a D (as in DOG) rated “charity” that simply gets mostly free legal help to make anti pet laws. Exemptions from here to eternity will not save it.


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