California’s effort to roll back animal shelter laws creating a huge outcry from animal activists

California’s efforts to repeal parts of the 10 year old Hayden Laws are creating a huge outcry from many animal activists in the state.

Reports vary on whether or not the laws really work.

The fact is that Gov. Jerry Brown is planning to propose a repeal of key provisions of a 1998 law written by political activist and former State Sen. Tom Hayden to protect shelter animals in California from premature euthanasia and increase their chances for adoption, with an estimated cost savings of $23 million.

The “Hayden Law, SB1785, requires shelters to wait at least four to six days before killing an animal, rather than the 72-hour minimum standard that was followed before 1999. These protections requires California shelters to post lost-and-found lists so owners can locate lost pets; and, if they are holding an animal for only four days, to stay open some evenings and weekends to allow owners an opportunity to pick up lost pets after business hours. It also extended protections to animals other than dogs and cats, such as rabbits.

Opponents say shelters could euthanize an animal after just 72 hours, regardless of whether they had been open to the public during that time. In fact, Dog Park is circulating an online petition to accompany the video, calling on Gov. Brown not to repeal major provisions of the law and end up killing thousands of innocent shelter animals” to solve the state’s budget woes:  Opponents also say the shelter could euthanize the animal in 72 hours whether or not they had been open during that time.

According to a Jan. 30 Article in the San Francisco Chronicle, Gov. Brown’s plan on shelter law stirs backlash, by Marisa Lagos, under the Hayden Law, the state must compensate animal shelters for those extra days they keep animals alive. They quote Department of Finance spokesman H.D. Palmer as saying it costs the state about $23 million a year, and is only one of over 30 proposals to save the state money, streamlining government and increasing local flexibility.

Reports on the issue point to the Governor’s references to a 2008 report by the nonpartisan Legislative Analyst’s Office, which recommended doing away with the Hayden Law because it had not made an increase in the demand for pet adoptions.  The report said that shelters that euthanize more pets actually get more funding, while shelters that are most successful in promoting adoptions receive fewer state funds.

Opponents contend the change would cause shelters to incur more expenses because they would have to take on the additional cost of more euthanizations because of the shorter hold time, and not be compensated by the state for the longer hold period. They also maintain they’d lose revenues from fewer adoptions.

Whether or not the findings of this report are correct or not is for the legislators and citizens to debate. However, it would appear that this reduced time frame does not allow much time for someone to find their pet gone missing.

One of the problems in relying for government funding for any service including animal shelters is that when state and federal coffers run short, they start looking for places to cut. It appears to be the case in California. Hopefully this philosophy does not take hold in the rest of the country.

4 responses to “California’s effort to roll back animal shelter laws creating a huge outcry from animal activists”

  1. Debra Kristi Avatar
    Debra Kristi

    I agree with Louise. 72 hours is not near enough time! This really bothers me. I know when my cat went missing we were running from shelter to shelter and sometimes it took days to get to some of them due to schedules. Thanks for bringing this to our attention.

  2. Katie Avatar

    This is so sad. I know California already has an animal control issue, my cousins’ have an uncontrolled feral cat problem in their neighborhood. I understand the need to save money but this doesn’t seem to make sense, putting money before life. But I guess that is the American way now a days. So, so sad.

    1. bjbangs Avatar

      Indeed it is so sad to think we’ve come to this. Seems like perhaps they could cut the allocation without changing the laws.

  3. Louise Behiel Avatar
    Louise Behiel

    72 hours is not enough time for theses situations. i understand dollars, but this make no sense.

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