The Senate on Monday passed legislation making it a crime to kill and eat any animal commonly kept as a pet.
"I think the animals will sleep better tonight," said Jackie Speier (D-San Francisco), author of the bill.
The measure also would allow veterinarians to place for adoption any unclaimed animals. Under current law, unclaimed, injured animals must be destroyed.
In a highly publicized incident earlier this year, two Cambodian immigrants were charged with cruelty to animals after they killed a German shepherd puppy in their Long Beach apartment. The men told police they intended to eat the animal. Speier decided to carry her legislation at the request of the Cambodian Assn. of America, which said it hoped the measure would help dispel racial stereotypes that Asians eat dogs and cats.
Speier's proposal originally referred only to dogs and cats. But she changed the language of the Assembly bill to broaden the category of animals after other Asian organizations protested that the legislation unfairly singled out certain ethnic groups. Although the bill passed the Senate on a 21-4 vote, some members questioned whether the broad category of "traditionally or commonly kept . . . pets" would result in a wave of lawsuits against people--such as farmers--who raise other animals, such as chickens or rabbits.
The bill earlier passed the Assembly and on Monday was returned to the lower chamber for action on Senate amendments.