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Will California’s Lost Pets Be Killed in 3 Days?

March 10, 2012 14 comments

When my dog, Lady, went missing in November of last year many of you were right there with me, praying and hoping and helping and spreading the word. You understood my pain and worry at not knowing where she was or if she was alright. I had a lot of things to worry about those 12 long days and nights – the cold weather, cars, coyotes, strangers picking her up, winter weather and the everlasting fear that I would never find her. It was agony that I hope never to experience again.

Throughout that awful time when she was missing, the one worry I didn’t have was the possibility that Animal Control would pick her up and euthanize her before I could I could find her. However, for many pet owners in California that fear may become a reality soon if Governor Jerry Brown has his way.

Governor Brown wants to repeal the “Hayden Law”, which was passed in 1998 to provideowners more time to find their lost pets and to improve the chances for a pet to be adopted.

Hayden’s Law:

– Extended the holding period for a stray or lost pet to 4-6 days (from the previous requirement of 72 hours)
– Required that shelters post lost and found lists to ensure that lost pets could be found quickly and reunited with their families
– Mandated that sick and injured animals be provided veterinary care promptly
– Ensured that other pets, like rabbits and reptiles, be subject to the same treatment and holding requirement as given cats and dogs
– Provisioned for the state of California to reimburse shelters for the additional hours added to the holding period (i.e., 3 days)

According to Nathan Winograd of the “No Kill” movement, “These provisions helped reduce the killing of dogs and cats by nearly 250,000 in just one year after the provisions went into effect.” It also offered pet owners a better chance of finding their lost pet. Now Governor Brown wants to take that chance away – permanently. Hard to believe he’s a dog lover himself isn’t it?

I know that I am not a Californian. This law and it’s repeal have absolutely no affect on me whatsoever, however I am the owner of a formerly lost dog. I know what it’s like to lose a pet and worry and wonder if they will ever be found. I know how many tears I cried while Lady was missing. I know how much sleep I lost worrying that some harm would befall her. And, I can imagine the absolute terror I would feel knowing that if I didn’t find her before animal control did, she could be dead before I could rescue her. No. This bill may not affect me personally, but it does affect many California pet owners who are going through many of the same worries and fears and emotions that I did. It doesn’t take much for me to see why this decision by Governor Brown is a bad one.

So what can you do?

Sign the petition at Change.org
or
Sign the petition at Stray Cat Alliance

Join Social Media Day this Tuesday, March 13th, by tweeting Governor Brown and posting a message on his Facebook page letting him know that you do not support his decision to repeal this law.

If you live in California, join the rally being organized by the Best Friends Animal Society on Tuesday, March 13th.

Additional information:
History
– Hayden’s Law was named after California State Senator Tom Hayden, who sponsored the bill.
– The bill was signed into law in 1997 by Governor Pet Wilson.
– In 2004, Patricia Lock filed a lawsuit in Kern County, California to force California shelters to cpmply with the law. The case went on for two years, but Lock prevailed and won in 2006.
– In 2004, Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger briefly tried and failed to repeal Hayden’s Law
– Five years later (2009), Governor Brown suspended the law as part of a deal to balance the state budget.
– In 2009, Governor Brown suspended Hayden’s Law and no further state money has been provided to shelters since that time.
On March 13, 2012, the Animal Adoption Mandate (Hayden Law) Repeal will be heard and voted on in the California State Assembly and Senate budget committees.
– Among the people and groups opposed to repealing Hayden’s Law are: Best Friends Animal Society, Nathan Winograd, Elayne Boosler, the Barbi Twins, former state senator, Tom Hayden (the author of Hayden’s Law), Maddie’s Fund, the Humane Society of the United States, ASPCA, the San Diego Animal Support Foundation, Bakersfield SPCA, Sacramento SPCA, San Francicsco SPCA and the Los Angeles City Council.

Facts
– California reimburses shelters to keep animals alive for up to an additional three days at about $23 milliion a year
About 80 percent of pets are claimed by their owners within the first three days, but last year, about 1,100 lost pets were reunited with their owners on their fourth and fifth days in the shelter.
In 2008-09, the county impounded 45,903 dogs, with 54 percent adopted or returned to their owners. In 2011-12, the projected number of impounded dogs stands at 48,823, with 57 percent returned or adopted.

Read more about Hayden’s Law:
The Governor Flip-Flops on Hayden Law by Nathan Winograd (Definitely worth the read.)
Hayden Law Update via Maddie’s Fund
Hayden Law: Jerry Brown Proposal To Allow Earlier Pet Euthanization Met By Angry Activists by Kathleen Miles (Huffington Post-Los Angeles)
Humane Leaders Urge Calif. Governor to Spare Abandoned and Lost Pets
Barbi Twins Speak Out Against Hayden Law Repeal: Doom for Shelter Pets
Barbis, Boosler vs. Brown & Board of Extermination by Elayne Boosler and The Barbi Twins

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