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Alameda County Supports Law Protecting Shelter Animals

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(CBS)

(CBS)

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OAKLAND (CBS SF) – The Alameda County Board of Supervisors voted unanimously Tuesday to ask Gov. Brown not to repeal portions of a state law that calls for a delay of up to six days before stray or lost pets are euthanized.

The Hayden Law, which is named after former state Senator Tom Hayden and was passed by the state Legislature in 1998, requires that animal shelters keep stray or abandoned animals for a minimum of four to six days before euthanizing them and provide all animals with necessary and prompt veterinary care.

But Brown is proposing to repeal portions of the law in an effort his staff believes will save $46.3 million over the next two years. His proposal is being considered by the state Legislature as part of its process to adopt a new budget before the new fiscal year begins July 1.

Animal protection groups said at a rally before Tuesday’s board meeting that if portions of the law are repealed, shelters would be allowed to euthanize animals after a 72-hour holding period and the requirement that sick and injured animals receive life-saving veterinary care would be weakened.

Elena Bicker, the executive director of the Animal Rescue Foundation, said repealing parts of the Hayden Law would be “inhumane.”

KCBS’ Bob Melrose Reports:

Bicker also said she doesn’t think the state will save any money if the Hayden Law is repealed because it’s been estimated that 50,000 pets will be euthanized under looser rules and killing the animals will be expensive.

Bicker was with a golden retriever named Bella Mia who was rescued on her sixth day at an animal shelter in the Central Valley. Mia is short for “missing in action,” she said.

She said Bella Mia is now a therapy pet who works with people in need who are lonely or emotionally troubled.

ARF has 100 pet therapy teams that provide 70,000 visits a year to people in need, Bicker said.

Supporters of the Hayden Law brought more than 20 animals, including Bella Mia, to the Board of Supervisors meeting today.

Animal protection groups also held rallies today in Los Angeles and at the state capitol in Sacramento.

The resolution approved by the Board of Supervisors says that in 2010 more than 20,000 cats and dogs were taken in by shelters in Alameda County and there were more than 9,000 successful adoptions and nearly 3,000 reunifications with pet owners.

Brown’s finance spokesman, H.D. Palmer, said the governor is proposing to repeal part of the Hayden Law as part of a larger plan to repeal more than 24 mandates in an effort to save $720 million in the next fiscal year.

Palmer said Brown is basing his proposal on a report by the nonpartisan Legislative Analyst’s Office which says the longer holding period doesn’t save the lives of pets or increase adoptions and has cost the state more than $20 million a year in recent years.

He said one of the law’s goals was to increase the number of lost and abandoned pets who are adopted but he said there are more euthanizations and fewer adoptions than expected because animal shelters are paid more for euthanizing pets than for arranging adoptions.

Palmer said if Brown’s proposal to repeal part of the Hayden Law is approved, local animal shelters could still hold animals for more than three days but they just wouldn’t be reimbursed by the state anymore for the costs of keeping them for a longer period.

(Copyright 2012 by CBS San Francisco and Bay City News Service. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)

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