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Activists oppose Gov. Jerry Brown's plan to allow earlier shelter euthanizations

File: Dogs at an animal shelter.
Caroline Noel/Flickr
Dogs at an animal shelter.

Animal advocates from Southern California traveled to Sacramento Thursday to deliver 13,000 signatures to Gov. Jerry Brown. They want him to keep his paws off a state law that extended the time that animal shelters must hold stray and abandoned animals.

A little over a decade ago, California enacted the Hayden Law, extending the time shelters must hold animals before putting them down from three days to six. Former state Assemblyman Tom Hayden sponsored the law to reduce the number of animals euthanized in California each year.

But Brown says keeping strays longer costs the state $43 million, and in a budget crunch, that’s a lot of money. He wants the hold time at shelters pushed back to three days.

Christi Metropole with the Stray Cat Alliance says that creates problems for pet owners.

For example, Metropole says, “Your dog gets out. You will no longer have four to six days to find your dog at a shelter. It’ll be 72 hours, and if the shelter is closed, you won’t have access to your animal.”

Attorney Marla Tauscher says people who live in the L.A. area have a lot of ground to cover to find lost animals.

“There’s L.A. County, L.A. City, City of Burbank, City of Pasadena, City of Santa Monica,” Tauscher listed off. “And if you happen to be near a line in any of those, and for whatever reason if your animal ends up in a different jurisdiction and you don’t know that, you could spend 72 hours just cruising around, doing the tour of animal shelters to see if your animal’s there.”

The state actually suspended the Hayden Act three years ago to save money. Now Brown wants to permanently repeal the part of the law that obligates the state government to reimburse locals for the longer holds.

H.D. Palmer with the Department of Finance says under language to repeal that portion locals can still choose to pick up the tab for longer stays.

“Nothing in this provision or this proposal would prevent a city or a county from having a stay period longer than three days,” according to Palmer. “It simply says if there is a stay period that is longer than three days, the state of California will not be reimbursing local governments associated with that longer period.”

The governor's plan would also repeal state funding to ensure shelters provide animals with medical care and keep records.

Animal activists want Brown to leave the Hayden Law suspended but unchanged until the economy recovers, then restore the six-day stay.

They say with it, more animals might end up back with their owners or in new homes.