Tuesday, February 07, 2012

Repeal the Hayden Law?

There has been quite a bit of talk lately about California Governor Jerry Brown’s intention to repeal significant portions of the Hayden Law in order to save the state approximately $23 million per year to provide funding to local shelters. If you haven’t heard about this, a little background would probably be helpful.

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.


S said...

I signed the petition and mentioned your article on my blog.

Hope this helps.

P.S. Love your blog. My 3 dogs (male beagle mix, female beagle mix, female pitbull) love watching the videos!

Fuzzi Friends said...

I signed the petition, I left a note as well. I wanted to put the same note on his FB wall but I have to like it. =( I'd like to post this comment "Repealing the Hayden Law completely is not a solution. With so much animal abuse in the COUNTRY why would you leave the door open for it in your state? Many of these animals are considered a family member, not just an animal. To lose a family member because the State wants to save money – the easy way – is just heartless. Is there no other solution so many heads of state can come up with? Revise the law don’t eliminate it. Here are just some ideas: An audit of the Shelters that received the most money should be done. Figure out what was happening (or not happening) … make these shelters accountable for their actions. Make them accountable each and every time an animal is put down. Find out what they ACTUALLY did to try and re-unite it with its proper family. And did they really do all that they should have done to “qualify” for the reimbursement. BLIND reimbursement is folly and so is repealing this law." to a related link on his FB wall. Help? email me @ apbtlvrr@gmail.com and Yes, I have pittie and I love him. <3 =)

Aria Milan said...

What an important law! I don't know why they would want to repeal this! What happens if someone's pet gets euthanized just because they hadn't contacted that shelter within the time period? The fact that California wants to repeal this makes me mad. I don't know if I qualify to sign the petition since I live in another state, but I will if it counts.

Sarah Loves to Bake said...

Signed the petition. Thanks for providing easy ways to help!

circle of bosses said...

And the gov n laws continue their b.s its becomin ridiculous...unbelievable kurupted system is now hurting helpless animals wow

marlukha said...

Thank you, BADRAP for providing a link to the petition that I put up on Change.org. I will be delivering the printed petition signatures to Governor Brown's office at the State Capitol next Thursday, February 23 at 10:00 AM, in case anyone is wondering what ever happens to these petitions. While I'm in Sacramento, I will also meet with as many members as possible of the Assembly and Senate Budget subcommittees hearing the repeal of the state mandates to discuss the consequences of repeal.

Marla Tauscher