Target: California Governor Jerry Brown
Goal: Support pet adoptions/reunions by not eliminating the waiting period before euthanizing animals at shelters.
Passed in 1998, Hayden’s Law (or SB1785) was instated in order to help lower the alarmingly high number of animals put to death every year in animal shelters across California. In the year before it was introduced by former state senator Tom Hayden, the California Department of Public Health estimated that 576,097 dogs and cats were euthanized in California animal shelters; the number dropped to 327,991 in the first year of the law’s passing. But in 2009, when former Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger suspended the law, the number rose once again to 455,046—it has been suspended ever since.
Hayden’s Law requires that shelters hold on to animal for up to four to six days, with the hopes that in this time the animals would either be adopted or owners will be able to find animals that have gone missing. And if shelters can only keep animals for a limited amount of time, then they must make themselves more available to the public outside of regular business hours (staying open later on some weekdays and opening on some weekends). Opponents of the bill are arguing that the state no longer has the financial means to continue, and Governor Jerry Brown is planning on repealing Hayden’s Law.
It is no wonder that many animal activists and animal lovers, alike, are unhappy about this turn of events for Hayden’s Law. And while $23 million (the amount of money California pays to animal shelters every year to cover extended business hours) would be nice to shave off of the state deficit, many fear that there is a “perverse fiscal incentive” involved within Hayden’s Law which supplies more money to shelters with less adoptions and more euthanasia. However, there are plenty of Hayden Law supporters to argue that there are many more incentives in retaining the law, for both monetary and humane reasons.
It’s hard to imagine losing your pet, only to find out that, because of financial constraints within the state, the animal shelter that found your animal put it down without you being able to claim it. No pet owner should have to experience that, and no adoptable animal should be pushed aside because they were not adopted within 72 hours of being found.
While the state’s financial situation is nothing to be taken lightly, and only necessary expenses should be considered, repealing Hayden’s Law is not the answer to our problem. There is no doubt that money is made in the pet adoption business, but beyond even this is the issue of humanity.
I urge you not to repeal Hayden’s Law, but to look at other ways of shaving the state’s deficit that will not harm innocent animals, or the humans that love them.
[Your name will go here]