Deadliest Budget Cut Ahead for Pets

California has a massive budget crisis and since our state is in a state of gridlock where Democrats refuse to concede cuts to their pet causes and Republicans failing to fund the expansive state budget, our Governor is trying to find so many small items to cut to help to provide substantive fiscal relief. The issue that has gotten thousands of animal welfare advocates mobilized is the movement to repeal the Hayden Law for shelter animals that was passed in 1998 and signed by Governor Wilson. Hayden’s legislation was intended to help reunite pets with their owners in the instance they may have become lost and also to encourage animal shelters to focus on working on adoptions instead of putting animals down.

In an effort to trim costs, the governor’s budgetary staff has stricken out particular parts of the law in their trailer bill that will likely be part of the next state budget. First, animal shelters will not be mandated to provide necessary and prompt care when an animal needs medical assistance so if an animal is in needed for treatment it will either suffer in pain or be the first one to be put down. Second, animals that are not traditionally dog or cat will not be guaranteed the new 72 hour hold period, if the shelter is in danger of running out of space they will likely be put down. Third, regulations that require accountability in our animal shelters will be repealed so we will not find out the status of any animal medically treated or impounded. Four, there will not be a six business day holding period if your animal runs out of your home. If you are on vacation and your pet is impounded on a weekend expect your animal to not see Monday. The new rule will be 72 hours from the date of impoundment including days animal control may be closed to the public.

The Hayden Law is still needed, and repealing the Hayden Law is very drastic when we can suspend relevant clauses until our state is in better fiscal health. Even so, shelters in various parts of our state have violated the Hayden Law for shelter animals and without the law expect it to happen across the state. We should be able to provide dignity and respect for the companion animals that many of us value. We should keep the law on the books to further the cause of adoption and reduce the instance of putting animals down. We need to clamp down on animal shelters that deny volunteers, refuse the acceptance of blankets to help keep animals comfortable in concrete or outdoor kennels and refuse to cooperate with rescue organizations that want to save animals from being put down due to crowded kennels.

Budget analysis’s claim that these changes will save 46 million dollars, but there are much bigger fish to fry for the state of California to have meaningful budget reform such as dealing with the looming public employee pension crisis or curtailing the spiraling costs of high speed rail. However the thousands of shelter animals do not have a lobby as viable as the SEIU or the Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Organization. That is why people like you and me who live in our state are encouraged to lobby their state legislators and our governor to reject this misguided proposal. First, look up your state legislator and find out if they are a member of the state budget committee for the assembly or senate. If they are then it’s strongly encouraged to lobby them because they are able to kill the proposal before it gets to a full vote. Even if your legislator is not on the budget committee, if the misguided proposal passes, we need them to defeat it at the full floor vote.

Crossposted from Orange Juice blog.

One thought on “Deadliest Budget Cut Ahead for Pets”

  1. I wanted to let you and your readers know about an upcoming Board of Supervisors meeting, this Tuesday, March 27, 2012 at 9:45. Being held at 385 N. Arrowhead Avenue, San Bernardino, CA 92415. After months upon months of working to bring awareness about the less than optimal conditions at Devore Shelter, Board of Supervisor Neil Derry has suggested the following agenda item regarding Devore Shelter and all of it’s issues:
    Here is the agenda item to be presented:
    Item 87
    Direct the County Administrative Office to research and create a framework for establishing an animal services commission to function as an oversight and recommendation body and is to include a citizen representative component from each supervisorial district in addition to an independent veterinarian and a representative from the Department of Public Health’s Animal Care & Control Division. ?(Affected Districts: All)?(Presenter: Supervisor Neil Derry, Third District, 387-4855)

    We would appreciate any support at this meeting from people in the county who care about what is happening at this shelter. It is basically a “catch and kill” shelter with a 25% adoption rate. It is also the slaughterhouse for animals coming from Rialto, Highland, Inland Empire, Yucca Valley. Animals are killed right of the truck at Devore from these cities, and it a large source of revenue for the county.

    This committee could be a starting place to improve conditions for the animals at Devore Shelter. Unfortunately, this agenda item as been placed this item as the VERY LAST item on the agenda– so it could be a long day.

    We could really use support at this meeting of any of the animal advocates in San Bernardino County! We are trying to establish a volunteer program in the shelter to increase transparency. Currently, they use court ordered work release prisoners to work in the shelter. Community volunteers are not allowed. Nearly unheard of in these economic times. The prisoners would never report anything they see out of fear of retaliation.

    Additionally, the management of the shelter has a 501c3 slush fund AARF . (Brian Cronin, Greg Beck sit on their Board) Money is collected as donations from county employees, employees are told on their website it is for building a spay/neuter clinic, and adoption center at Devore. They have been collecting money since 2004– and have done nothing towards those goals. Thousands upon thousand of dollars is wasted for donor appreciate gifts, coloring books and stuffed animals for kids. I am happy to provide the last three years of 990 tax returns to anyone who would like them, it is public record. At the end of the year they keep 70K in the fund while having a 25% adoption rate.
    BOARD OF SUPERVISORS MEETING 385 N. ARROWHEAD DR SAN BERNARDINO MARCH 27 9:45 to sign in, if you would like to speak for 3 minutes about this.

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