Humane Leaders Urge California Governor to Spare Abandoned and Lost Pets

Groups ask Brown not to make homeless animals victims of budget crisis

National and local humane organizations are calling on Gov. Jerry Brown to rescind his proposal to repeal a state requirement that municipal animal shelters hold stray dogs and cats for more than 72 hours before euthanizing them. In his budget proposal, the Governor has also called for eliminating the requirement for shelters to provide necessary and prompt veterinary care and would allow shelters to legally euthanize rabbits, reptiles and other animals immediately.

These modest sheltering requirements — first enacted in 1998 as part of what is often referred to as the “Hayden Law” (named for the legislation’s author, former state senator Tom Hayden) — have been suspended for the past three years, but the Governor is now proposing wholesale repeal.

Statements from each participating organization are included below:
  • The ASPCA urges California lawmakers not to repeal the animal adoption mandate which would reduce the current six-day stray hold in local animal shelter, significantly limiting the chance of homeless animals from becoming adopted. “California is known for its progressive laws protecting animals and repealing this mandate would be a setback for animal welfare, public health, and local communities who have already realized benefits from the provisions in place,” said Jill Buckley, senior director of community initiatives for the ASPCA
  • “The repeal of these laws will only lead to more euthanasia and force animal welfare back to the dark ages. Owners who lose a pet on Friday will face the reality that their pet may be dead on Monday,” said Julie Johnson, executive director of the Bakersfield SPCA. “Let's rethink this repeal.” 
  • “Best Friends Animal Society and our legions of dedicated members in California adamantly oppose a repeal of the Hayden Law. A repeal will not only cost the lives of untold numbers of homeless pets and cause heart break for families unable to locate their lost pet in a scant 72 hours, a repeal, unlike a suspension, will forever change the character and guiding principles of California's shelters by officially lowering the standards of expected care for companion animals that fall into the sheltering system,” said Best Friends Animal Society chief executive officer Gregory Castle. “A recent poll showed that 71 percent of Americans (and likely more Californians) believe that animal shelters should only be allowed to euthanize animals when they are too sick to be treated or too aggressive to be adopted. Repealing this law would fly in the face of public opinion and set California back decades in the humane care of shelter animals.” 
  • “Repealing the Hayden law would undoubtedly affect families here in the North State. For example, because Northern California is primarily rural – three days is simply not long enough for many families to find their beloved pets when they are lost,” said Kristen Staggs, president of the Butte Humane Society board of directors. “We should explore other options to help keep animals out of shelters - ultimately saving taxpayers millions of dollars. Repealing this law is not a step forward in California's animal welfare standards; it is a major step backwards.” 
  • “Since these requirements are already suspended, the Governor’s repeal proposal is a policy decision, not a budget decision. And the policy consequences of repeal are likely to be adverse for homeless animals’ prospects – indeed repeal cannot possibly move California forward,” said Jennifer Fearing, senior state director for The Humane Society of the United States. “We urge Governor Brown to scrap this repeal idea while calling on California’s sheltering, rescue, veterinary and philanthropic community to come together this year to evaluate current policies and practices based on the outcomes they achieve, and to identify reliable and stable sources of funding tied to policies that promote saving animals’ lives. We must find ways to deliver the outcomes for homeless animals that Californians expect.” 
  • “While some shelters like the Marin Humane Society have always held animals for as long as possible to promote adoption, we work regularly with other shelters in California that are unable to do so, whether because of fiscal limits or space restrictions,” said Marin Humane Society executive director Nancy McKenney. “We should continue to safeguard these most vulnerable animals, and a repeal of any or part of the Hayden law would be a sad and lethal move.” 
  • “The Sacramento SPCA will continue to abide by guidelines established in the Hayden law and will work to ensure that other shelters do as well,” said Rick Johnson, chief executive officer of the Sacramento SPCA. “A great deal of good work was made possible through the financial support that accompanied this piece of legislation, and we urge that the law not be repealed.” 
  • "The Santa Cruz SPCA often takes animals from over-crowded shelters in rural areas where second chances for the animals are rare. We all suffer when money is tight, no one more so than our four-legged friends,” said Santa Cruz SPCA executive director Lisa Carter. “Our family pets are brought into this world to be our companions, our allies, and on some days the only ones who understand us. It's important that we work to stop any repeal of the Hayden law because there is no good reason to deny our defenseless companions a little help when they need it most.” 
  • “Our fear is that a repeal of the suspended requirements would loosen many shelters’ commitment to providing necessary veterinary care to animals and offering reasonable holding times to help more animals find homes. Repealing the Hayden law may become an excuse for many local governments to further cut shelter budgets,” saidSan Francisco SPCA co-president Jennifer Scarlett, DVM. “We believe that it is possible to balance the needs of repairing California’s budget with the needs of homeless animals. That’s why we are calling for a conference of leaders from shelters and rescues to thoughtfully revise the Hayden law in a way that will benefit the animals, with an eye on budgetary needs.” 
  • SPCA for Monterey County executive director Gary Tiscornia calls Governor Brown’s attempt to codify the suspended provisions of the Hayden law unconscionable. “Lost and injured pets will suffer from lack of mandated veterinary care and the 72 hour holding period ‘from time of capture’ will become a race against euthanasia,” he said. “The SPCA for Monterey County is committed to continuing our current practice of holding lost pets long enough to reunite pets with their owners, not placing time limits on the pets in our care, and continuing to provide quality medical care for lost and injured pets arriving at our shelter. Write, call, or email Governor Brown and let him know it is time to build on the momentum we’ve achieved over the past thirteen years, not revert to the failed practices of the past.”
  • Please follow this blog J