Animal activists are up in arms over the budget cut they say turns back the clock on animal welfare over 100 years – when the 72-hour-hold for animals in shelters was first enacted in 1921. Governor Brown recently proposed repealing the Hayden Act, a law passed in 1998, which, among other benefits, most notably guarantees animals will be held in shelters 4-6 open business days. The repeal of the Hayden Act would mean municipal shelters would only be required to hold stray animals and pets for 72 consecutive hours from the moment of impound and shelters would not be required to treat animals with medical care. After that animals could be either euthanized, adopted out to families, or picked up by a rescue organization. Brown’s administration says it will save the state $23 million.
Officials from one of the non-profit shelters, the East Bay SPCA in Oakland, says they are worried they won’t have enough room for all of the animals already coming in from municipal shelters if the law is repealed. Already municipal shelters do not receive funding from the state for holding animals longer since the suspension of the act in 2009 by by Governor Schwarzenegger in an effort to save money.
Laura Fulda, director of marketing and development at the East Bay SPCA, says that many people do not realize their pets are missing for a few days and that they have reunited owners with their animals after several months or even years.
“Making this repeal of the law when they’re not even funding it now to begin with — they haven’t been funding it since 2009 — is just going to take us in a giant step in the wrong direction,” said Fulda.
A group that hopes to stop that step from being taken is Sutter’s Friends, managed by Vicki Steiner, co-director of the UCLA Animal Law program. The group was named after Brown’s corgi Sutter, who has been a media favorite. Sutter’s Friends has gained hundreds of Facebook and Twitter followers in just a matter of weeks.
In a video to Brown, former Senator Tom Hayden asks Brown to reconsider the repeal of the law he authored. “Governor, I see you’re a dog owner. I can tell from the publicity that you love that dog. Your wife loves that dog,” said Hayden. “I urge you to look at your dog before you allow this bill that protects animals to die.”