Tell Gov. Brown: No Repeal of Hayden Law!

Over the past few years, austerity measures have been the go-to "fix" (I put that in scare quotes because austerity fixes fucking nothing and we all know it) for budget deficit crises at all levels of government in this country.  Services for vulnerable populations have been slashed left, right, and center.  Disability services.  Subsidized health insurance services.  Reproductive health care services.  Food banks.  When the going gets tough, fuck over the poor and those in need, seems to be the theory.

This week, I heard about another cut about to go into place here in California, that would harm a population that hadn't occurred to me to worry about yet.

Shelter animals.

Governor Brown has said he wants to repeal a 1998 shelter-reform law, called the Hayden Law, that among other things mandated that county-run shelters hold onto animals for six days after being brought in before they could be euthanized, instead of the previous 72 hours.  The reform also required that shelters structure their open hours to include after-work and weekend times - or, if they were a small staff, make "by appointment" times available outside of normal work hours - so that (when combined with the six day minimum holding time) people who had lost a pet but who also worked a day job would actually be able to come and claim their animals before they were put to sleep.  To quote from the Facebook page of Sutter's Friends, a group dedicated to stopping the repeal:
What is at risk in the proposed repeal? Permanent loss of the requirement to provide prompt and necessary veterinary care. Permanent loss of the requirement to hold animals for an extended period to increase opportunites for redemption and adoption. Permanent loss of the requirement to post lost and found lists. And, among other things, permanent loss of the requirement to provide care for animals other than cats and dogs, such as rabbits, hamsters, and other animals commonly kept as pets.
This is a topic near and dear to me.  Every animal but one that I've bonded to - either belonging to me, my family, or close friends - has been a shelter animal.  Ozz and I just adopted our first in December, and we specifically chose to look for our new family member at the county shelter instead of the no-kill alternatives so that we could help in some small way to increase the survival rate there.  Kalika, our family's first dog, a golden retriever from the county shelter.  Kelly Anne, another golden, from a private rescue organization.  Diablo and Cielle, my mom's two cats, from a different private rescue org.  Amee, my ex's Siamese cat, from the county shelter.  Isis, my ex's and his brother's cat (and sort of mine, too, for awhile), from a shelter in Tennessee.  And now, Mara, Ozz's and my cat, from the county shelter.  And we plan to continue adopting from the shelter when we're ready to expand our family.

Local animal shelters can be an invaluable resource for saving animals' lives, from strays to runaway or lost pets - but they are all too often where animals' lives end, too.  The Hayden Law helped tilt that balance a bit more toward saving.  Jerry Brown's repeal would tilt it back toward death, and while I realize CA's budget situation is fairly desperate, I somehow don't get the feeling that euthanizing more shelter animals is going to be the linchpin on which a balanced budget would turn.

So I'm asking my readers to lift a small teaspoon in support of the Hayden Law.  Petitions against Gov. Brown's proposed repeal may be found and signed here and here; if you're on Facebook, "like" Sutter's Friends to stay on top of updates.

It's the humans' fault that there are so many homeless domestic-breed animals in the world to begin with; the least we can do is try to kill as few of them for the sake of our irresponsibility as possible.


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