The Hayden Law was enacted in 1998 and, among other things, requires local shelters to increase the holding period of unclaimed animals – dogs, cats, rabbits, guinea pigs, hamsters, potbellied pigs, birds, lizards, snakes, turtles, and tortoises – for 4-6 days (rather than the then 3-day requirement) before the animal became the property of the shelter. It also requires these agencies to provide prompt and necessary vet care, nutrition, and shelter. Shelters must also post lost and found lists to help owners reunite with their pets. And, shelters – public and private – must keep records for 3 years on all animals it cares for, giving the dates the animal was held, the names of personnel who were involved, a description of any medical treatment, and the dates and circumstances of the animal’s final disposition.
The State determined that, in cases where the animal was ultimately euthanized by the shelter, the shelters’ cost to care for animals for an additional 1-3 days was a state-reimbursable mandate. For animals who were adopted or reunited with their owners, the cost was not a state-reimbursable mandate because owner-paid fees would offset the additional costs. According to the Department of Finance, these costs have been costing California $23 million a year, and Governor Brown now wants to repeal these mandates.
On the one hand, the state-reimbursable mandates provide horribly wrong incentives. It turns out that the shelters receiving the most State money are not the ones most successful at promoting adoptions. The shelters receiving the most State money, ironically, are the ones euthanizing the most animals.
But, right now, local agencies aren’t receiving any reimbursement because former Governor Schwarzenegger suspended the these mandates in 2009. So, why the push for a full repeal right now when the State isn’t losing any money over it? If Governor Brown gets his wish and repeals the state-reimbursable portions of Hayden, what would the law look like?
- Shelters would no longer be required to provide animals with necessary and prompt veterinary care.
- Shelters would be required to hold a stray dog or cat for 72 hours from the time of capture. The 72 hours does not have to include any days when the shelter is actually open.
- After the 72 hour hold, shelters would not be required to make that cat or dog available for owner redemption or adoption.
- This 72 hour hold would not be mandated for rabbits, guinea pigs, hamsters, potbellied pigs, birds, lizards, snakes, turtles, and tortoises.
- Any shelter that contracts to perform public animal control services would no longer be required to maintain a “lost and found” list.
- No shelter would have to maintain any records about the intake of animals, any medical treatment given, any circumstances surrounding their care, or their final disposition.
Of course, supporters of the law say that repeal of these provisions doesn’t necessarily mean that shelters will change to meet the only minimum state standards. Local shelters can continue to comply with the Hayden provisions without reimbursement from the State. But, will they? I remember in 2004 when the first lawsuit was filed alleging numerous violations of the Hayden Law against Kern County. The case went to trial, and two years later, Kern County lost. Without the law, Kern County would have continued to violate the Hayden Law.
So, considering that the state-mandated reimbursements have been, and is currently, suspended, there is no a strong fiscal argument for a full repeal. And, the idea of supporting a full repeal without any comparable alternatives for our homeless animals is inhumane.
Please, take a minute to do one or all of the following:
CALL Governor Brown at (916) 445-2841 (9 am to 5 pm)
FAX your letter of opposition to (916) 558-3177
EMAIL him (choose BUDGET as subject).
POST to his Facebook page
CONTACT him through his Twitter page
SIGN the petition.