California lawmakers on Tuesday passed a bill to allow people with infectious diseases to quarantine llamas for up to 12 months, as the state grapples with an outbreak of coronavirus.
The legislation was part of a package of measures introduced in a special session by Assemblyman Matt Diaz (D-Los Angeles), who is leading the effort to combat the outbreak.
The bills also would provide for the transfer of llamas from a zoos to a petting zoo and the adoption of llama puppies.
In recent weeks, the state has seen several instances of people refusing to let llamas into their homes after the virus was first detected in Southern California.
But the state’s Department of Public Health and the California Department of Animal Care and Control have been in a constant state of emergency, and state officials say that people can be quarantined for up a year or more without the need for an outbreak declaration.
“There are no restrictions,” said DPH spokesperson Stephanie Beasley, adding that there are no specific restrictions in place to quarantine animals, but they will review any potential quarantine orders after the initial outbreak declaration is issued.
“But we want to make sure people understand that we don’t want people to quarantine their pets.”
The California Department to Protect Animals and Children (CDPAC) issued a statement Tuesday saying that “a quarantine is a state-sanctioned process and that a quarantine order is not the same as a quarantine, but we do have protocols in place that we use to address any issues that arise with people with certain infectious diseases.”
“It is a good idea to have people with the disease who are not sick in the first place be quarantineed,” said CDPAC spokesperson Nicole Coyle.
“If someone is not sick but they are not taking their pets to their veterinarian, they can be placed in quarantine, so that is a really good thing.”CDPAPAC officials said that they are aware of at least two instances of animals refusing to be quashed and are working with state and local officials to make it easier for people to get their animals quarantinated.
But they added that, because they are working on these measures, they will not be providing details about the cases.
“The goal is to get llamas out of people’s homes as quickly as possible so that we can have the best chance of making sure they are healthy and well,” said Beasley.
The quarantine law, which Diaz introduced last week, also includes requirements for people with contagious diseases to have their pets vaccinated and a process to determine if they need to be vaccinated.
“We’re trying to be proactive,” said Diaz, who noted that the measure does not require quarantine orders for pets in homes or for people in quarantine.
“I think it’s really important that people understand what we’re trying and that we’re not just trying to control the outbreak, we’re going to be doing everything we can to get people to come back home safely.”
The state is in the midst of a pandemic, which has killed more than 4,600 people and sickened 1.5 million.
The virus, first detected last year in California, is highly contagious and can be spread through close contact.
As of Friday, the disease has killed nearly 5,800 people and infected nearly 10,600.