California Governor Jerry Brown, as a cost saving measure, is recommending deleting parts of the Hayden Animal Shelter Law that had increased stray animal holding times in public and private animal shelters.
Specifically, Brown is seeking to repeal provisions of the law that are “reimbursable state mandates.” The animal rights legislation, passed in 1998, required strays be held, on average, five or six days prior to euthanasia. Before passage, strays were to be held for 72 hours.
The original bill authorized only $1 million a year for all shelters in the state to cover the additional costs associated with doubling the holding period of stray animals. Since passage, funding has been undercut by changing economic conditions and local jurisdiction shelters’ inabilities to pay for the greater number of mandated days and care.
A belief cited at the time of passage that increased adoption fees would offset costs of extended care, has not materialized, according to available state statistics.
In 2000, the Commission on State Mandates ruled that some of the provisions in the Hayden Law required state reimbursement to local governments for compliance costs. When the state budget crisis worsened in 2009, then-Governor Schwarzenegger and the state legislature ceased those reimbursements, rendering them unfunded mandates. These are the provisions Brown is targeting for repeal.
The governor proposes to repeal requirements that shelters provide lost and found lists, veterinary care for other than injured animals, more holding days prior to euthanasia including some weekend and evening viewing availability to accommodate working adults, microchip scanning services, and accommodation for small animals, such as rabbits, in addition to dogs and cats.
Absent Brown’s current proposal, the Hayden Law remains on the books and could, when finances improve, be enforced and funded in the future.
Still in effect after 2009, funding suspensions are provisions that don’t require reimbursement to local jurisdictions, including ones that a shelter cannot kill an animal if a rescue group or “No Kill” shelter is willing to save that animal’s life; shelters cannot deny animals to rescue groups based on temperament evaluations; some types of veterinary care must be provided if needed during the 72-hour holding period; and holding periods are back to 72 hours.
In 1998 when the bill became law, many media outlets were prescient in forecasting the tension between the bill’s laudable motives and consequent financial requirements that could confront public and private kennels.
For additional information see www.animallawcoalition.com/public-shelters/article/1922 (detail of provisions subject to repeal); Senator Tom Hayden video and plea, www.nathanwinograd.com; for provisions of the Hayen Law: www.nokillnow.com/lawSF_SPCA.htm.