County board of supervisors urges governor to keep shelter law on the books
on March 13, 2012
Angie Markle is proud of her dog, Regie, a small, black Chihuahua Terrier mix. Regie is a social therapy dog with Paws for Healing, a nonprofit that provides canine assisted therapy. Markle takes him around to visit children and veterans in the hospital, and sits with kids when they’re reading in the library or nervous because they’re in court. Markle carries around business cards with a picture of Regie sitting like a good boy on the front, and information about his breed, and his story, on the back.
On Wednesday, Markle was among a group of about a dozen dog owners and animal advocates who brought their dogs to the Alameda County Board of Supervisors meeting in downtown Oakland. The board passed a resolution sponsored by supervisors Wilma Chan (District 3) and Nate Miley (District 4) urging California Governor Jerry Brown not to repeal the Hayden Law, which guarantees stray and lost animals that are not taken to shelters will not be euthanized for up to six days.
Repealing the Hayden Law would eliminate the state’s portion of the bill for sheltering animals, and return the legislation to the way it was a decade ago. Back then, cities and counties covered the cost to hold an animal for three days, and then it was euthanized. Under the Hayden Law, which was passed in 1998, the state pays for an additional three days, bringing the total up to six.
Though the state has not funded its portion for three years, Brown is proposing the Hayden Law be repealed to permanently save the state about $23 million annually.
But three days is not enough time to save dogs like Regie, who was adopted by Markle just before he was to be euthanized, Markle told the board as she held the dog in her arms. “I am Regie’s voice,” Markle said. “He represents thousands of animals who deserve every chance possible to live and be loved, and like Regie, have a positive impact on our community. His life has value.”
About 60 people attended a pre-meeting rally in front of the county building on Oak Street, huddling under a canopy to keep dry as Chan, Miley and animal advocates spoke about the need to keep the Hayden Law on the books.
Chan said that more than 20,000 animals were taken in to county shelters in 2010, and about 50 percent were adopted. While she was speaking, Chan held up a photo of her cat that was adopted from a Dublin shelter and said, “This animal would have been dead if it wasn’t for Hayden’s Law, because he’d been there about a week.”
Allison Lindquist, the executive director of the East Bay Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (SPCA), told the group gathered in the rain that repealing the law would take away “the safety net” for stray and lost animals. Lindquist said members of the SPCA travel around to county shelters, like those in Oakland and Hayward, to collect animals that are nearing their euthanization date. Three days, Lindquist, said, is not enough time to save many animals.
“The pressure on nonprofits like us would be significant,” Lindquist said. Repealing the law “would turn back the clock a decade on animal welfare in California.”
Lindquist said she would like to see the state keep the Hayden Law on the books so it can be funded when there’s more money. She said shelters are already stretched thin trying to come up with money through donations to fund an animal’s three days at a shelter the state is supposed to fund.
“They’re not saving any money, so in the very least, keep the bill on the books so when there is money we can get it back in a timely manner,” she said.
Miley said there’s still time for the governor to reconsider repealing the law, and the board’s resolution will urge him to keep it on the books.
“The board of supervisors recognizes the importance of protecting stray or lost animals and urge the governor to suspend, not repeal, the Hayden Law,” Miley said, reading from the resolution.
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