_by Chad Love
Gundog owners are used to low-grade attacks on our way of life. Not even the loony fringe believes outright bans on hunting dog ownership can work. Yet, there are any number of ways that anti-hunting and anti-pet ownership forces can nickel and dime us with laws that, on the surface seem fairly benign or even well-intentioned. I mean, who isn’t against puppy mills, irresponsible dog owners and animal cruelty, right?

So these groups trot out, mostly on the local level but increasingly on the state level as well, proposed legislation like spay and neuter requirements, dog limit requirements, “kennel licensing” requirements, breeding restrictions, etc., that would make owning, breeding, training, and hunting with dogs as difficult and expensive as possible.

But gundog owners in California need to sit up and take notice on a piece of legislation. The battle over hunting bears and bobcats with hounds is heating up in the Golden State, with round one going to the anti-hunters. But this is much more than just another piece of anti-hunting legislation. Hunting dog owners in California – all hunting dog owners, not just houndsmen, need to fight this.

From this story in the Mount Shasta News:
Hundreds on both sides of the hound hunting debate testified before the state senate’s Natural Resources Committee in Sacramento last week before a bill that would ban the practice was moved forward to the appropriations committee. The vote was 5-3 to approve the legislation, which would make it illegal to use hounds while hunting bear and bobcats in the state of California._

Sounds grim for Golden State houndsmen, but the legislation, known as SB 1221, still has a ways to go before it can be signed into law. It now goes to the state senate appropriations committee, then if passed goes on to the full senate floor, then to the state assembly and the governor’s office. If California sportsmen can get mobilized, maybe they can halt its passage. If not, then all hunting for bears and bobcats with hounds will be outlawed, and then what? Emboldened, will they come next for our beagles? Coursing hounds? Coon hounds? Working terriers?

If you live in California and you own a hunting dog – any kind of hunting dog – then you need to start calling your elected representatives, making placards, sending letters, whatever it takes. The right you save may be your own…