The San Francisco SPCA Protests State Budget Cuts: Abandoned Animals Victims of Governor's Proposals; Safe Period for Shelter Cats & Dogs Reduced

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California's Governor's budget proposal includes a suspension of "The Hayden"Bill, thereby reducing the amount of time that animals are housed in shelters before they can be euthanized.

The San Francisco SPCA today voiced its opposition to Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger's proposal to reduce the State's $24 billion budget deficit by weakening the Hayden Bill and further imperiling the lives of thousands of homeless companion animals. The Governor's recommendation would cut the Bill's mandated holding period to three days, resulting in a one-tenth of one percent reduction, or $24 million, in the State's massive deficit. The Hayden Bill, also known as the "Animal Adoption Mandate," was passed in 1997. It requires shelters in California to hold abandoned animals for four to six days before euthanasia. The mandate protects animals' lives by allowing time for guardians to claim their lost pets. In addition, it gives shelters and rescue groups a chance to transfer unclaimed animals to their facilities.

"This proposal would essentially eliminate all state dollars pledged to local governments to help combat the problem of pet overpopulation," Jan McHugh-Smith, President of The San Francisco SPCA said today. "With more animals coming into California shelters due to the economic situation, animal shelters that depend on government funding need more help, not less."

The Humane Society of the United States has appeared before the California State Legislative Budget Conference Committee and has proposed the creation of a one-year "Animal Safety Net" Program if the Governor's budget recommendations pass. This program would help local governments promote pet adoptions at a time when shelters are facing budget cuts and more animals are being surrendered or abandoned by their guardians for economic reasons. The "Animal Safety Net" Program provides for the state to reimburse shelters $30 for each adoption. In its February 2008 analysis, the California Legislative Analyst's Office (LAO) calculated the cost of providing a $30 reimbursement for each animal adopted to be $12 million, half the estimated cost of Governor Schwarzenegger's current cost-cutting proposal. Since these payments would be based on performance over the next year, state costs would be delayed during this period of time. This would be a modest price tag for promoting an important policy goal of encouraging pet adoptions.

"While we strongly prefer not to face a suspension of the stray hold provision, we understand the grave circumstances the state is facing and encourage lawmakers to consider creation of a one-year "Animal Safety Net" Program to promote the adoption of as many animals as possible," said Kathleen Brown, President of The California Animal Control Directors Association.

SF/SPCA President McHugh-Smith is urging the public and supporters to contact the Governor and their elected officials to oppose the budget cut that would eliminate or reduce the animal-hold provision, and to ask that alternatives to suspending funds intended to shelter homeless animals be considered. "Pet-overpopulation is a complex issue and requires a multi-faceted approach including adequate holding periods, low-cost spay/neuter surgeries, foster-care programs, as well as progressive adoption campaigns," she said.            

Who to Contact:
Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger
State Capitol Building
Sacramento, CA 95814
Phone: (916) 445-2841

Assemblymember Tom Ammiano
Representing the 13th District
State Capitol
P.O. Box 942849
Sacramento, CA 94249-0013
Tel: (916) 319-2013

Assemblywoman Fiona Ma
Representing the 12th District
State Capitol
P.O. Box 942849
Sacramento, CA 94249-0012
Tel: (916) 319-2012

State Senator Mark Leno
Representing the 3rd Senate District
State Capitol, Room 4061
Sacramento, CA 95814
Phone: (916) 651-4003

State Senator Leland Yee
Representing the 8th Senate District
State Capitol, Room 4074
Sacramento, CA 95814
Phone: (916) 651-4008

About The San Francisco SPCA

The San Francisco SPCA is a community-supported, non-profit animal welfare organization dedicated to saving, protecting and providing immediate care for cats and dogs who are homeless, ill or in need of an advocate. The SF/SPCA also works long-term to educate the community, reduce the number of unwanted kittens and puppies through spaying and neutering, and improve the quality of life for animals and their human companions. The SF/SPCA partners with the San Francisco Department of Animal Care and Control to ensure that no healthy or rehabilitatable cat or dog is euthanized in San Francisco. For more information, visit


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