Tougher Rules for Humane Officers Approved by Wilson

Gov. Pete Wilson has signed a bill increasing training requirements and limiting the powers of state humane officers.

The law was written by Assemblyman Louis Caldera (D-Los Angeles), who said he acted after reading a Times series on problems with humane officers, who are sometimes unpaid or low-paid volunteers who enforce animal-abuse laws.

Under a little-known civil code, hundreds of humane officers have been credentialed under the sponsorship of private animal welfare groups. After securing the approval of a local judge--usually routinely granted--they were authorized to carry guns, wear badges and uniforms, execute search warrants, make arrests and confiscate and destroy private property.

Under Caldera's bill, which takes effect Jan. 1, humane officers will have to meet the same screening and training requirements as other California law enforcement officers to carry guns.

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