The Unintended Consequences of a Mandatory Bill

A Senate Bill has recently been introduced in Sacramento, CA that would mandate microchipping for all cats and dogs that pass through the state’s animal shelters. This bill has the potential to successfully address the influx and overpopulation of lost animals in county and city animal shelters due to the inability for non-chipped companion animals to be reunited with their owners. While, on the surface, this bill may seem like a solution to a pressing problem, this mandatory legislation could generate unintended consequences for individuals experiencing homelessness.

SB64 is written with a specific “type” of a citizen in mind. The legislation assumes all individuals with pets have a permanent address, phone number, or other kinds of reliable contact information to be inputted into the microchip. This bill fails to recognize the magnitude of individuals experiencing homelessness with companion animals in CA and how this mandatory requirement may impact this population in their ability to comply with the law should it pass.

Another barrier to this bill is the cost. What are the cost implications for the state to demand the microchipping of all animals, if some animals, even with a chip, cannot be returned to their human-companion due to a lack of home address or phone number? How will SB64 address citizens experiencing homelessness? Will it penalize or require an individual to pay for microchipping if his/her companion animal enters the shelter system? Will it further force individuals experiencing homelessness to separate from their animals due to unmanageable fees associated with microchipping costs? SB64 leaves a lot of questions unanswered.

While My Dog Is My Home does not endorse nor reject SB64, we do feel that there are significant gaps in its construction. While there is no one simple solution to making legislation inclusive to all, we can at least make an effort to ensure legislation it is not working against vulnerable individuals as we continue to find effective policy solutions to some of our most pressing societal problems.