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About this blog: The Raucous Caucus shares the southpaw perspectives of this Boomer on the state of the nation, the world, and, sometimes, other stuff. I enjoy crafting it to keep current, and occasionally to rant on some issue I care about deeply...  (More)

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The Hayden Bill, the Governor and the least among us

Uploaded: Jan 31, 2012
Please Note: I was all ready to opine on the depleted state of the GOP aspirants, and how quickly Obama has won me back – and then THIS happened in Sacramento. While I promise not to turn this blog into a serial animal welfare screed, I think this issue – one of life-or-death for many unlucky companion animals – is worthy of "a read." Hope you agree!


To paraphrase Billy Beane, Brad Pitt's character in the popular movie Moneyball: "there's the 1%, and the 99%, then there's fifty feet of crap, and then there's shelter animals."

That reality is stark in California, where Governor Jerry Brown has proposed gutting the state's landmark Hayden Bill, a 1998 law that requires at least a six-day 'hold' period before impounded animals can be legally killed by shelter personnel. ("Euthanasia" doesn't fit here -- these deaths will have nothing to do with mercy. In this context, that term might better be called "euphemasia.")

World-weary critics (blogger raises hand) characterize the bill as a particularly cynical element of the Governor's ongoing campaign to prod his electorate into raising taxes by November referendum. It would halve the "shelter hold" period, sending thousands of retrievable and adoptable stray pets to certain death. Mr. Brown's proposal takes his predecessor's "Terminator" persona from the realm of science fiction to tragic realism.

Hayden's humane provisions have been copied across the country, and here in California, they are a substantial step in the transformation of the state's pounds from disposal facilities to shelters true-to- their-name, and adoption centers. The six-day hold allows owners to locate and retrieve their animals. It is also crucial to mobilizing the state's burgeoning "rescue" movement, which pulls strays into private (read: "free") foster care for eventual adoption. "Save" rates have climbed steadily, especially in populated areas. Finally, most animals can't be properly evaluated for temperament until they've had a chance to settle-in to their confined, chaotic circumstances. Six days is not enough for many – less than that is absurd.

The cynicism claim is bolstered by examining the claimed pay-off for this slaughter: $23 million, in a state budget of $137 Billion. My calculator and I had difficulty arriving at so small a number as the savings percentage, but it appears to be on the order of 0.00017 percent (give or take a few factors-of-ten). And the state hasn't even been actually spending that money since 2009. So it's a massive animal sacrifice, without even a proper altar.

Further, the math used to conjure those savings is ignorant of the true economics of sheltering. Killing drugs, and especially carcass disposal, are expensive; pet food is not. Adoption and redemption fees that would be foregone in this mayhem are also a significant income stream – often fully offsetting the direct costs of food and meds.

Companion animals and their keepers don't get much from the legal system. But there are certain minimum decencies that government can and should provide. Hayden should be a source of some pride, and legislative deference, as a tangible demonstration of the humane instincts of California's populace. It is far from a perfect sheltering system in our fair state, and in a perfect world this issue might be leveraged into a wider-ranging discussion of how to substantially improve its life-saving potential. Stopping this backslide is a first priority, however. If you are so inclined, there is a letter generator here: to assist in soliciting your elected representatives.

There'll be time enough next week to consider the national candidates. We, after all, get to assume we'll still be around next week.
What is it worth to you?


Posted by American, a resident of Danville,
on Feb 1, 2012 at 8:03 am

Tom: I agree 100% with you! We have always "adopted" our dogs over the years, either from shelters, or from Rescue organizations, and they have always been wonderful, loving, fantastic parts of our family. I have some family members and friends who pay a lot of money to get "puppies with papers" from breeders, and so often these pedigree pups have constant medical and or behavioral problems, and never quite bond with the family.

It is ridiculous that we waste so much money in our state having to deal with the Occupy losers that result in police overtime, but yet do not have the funds to simply provide bare necessities to loving animals in a shelter for 6 days! Just another reason not to vote for Jerry Brown in the next election( he is always running for something)

Posted by Tom Cushing, a resident of Danville,
on Feb 1, 2012 at 10:23 am

If there's anything that Americans can agree on, it's the love of our canines (felines, too). I also agree that there's a place for puppy papers -- it's under the puppy!

Posted by San Ramon Oberver, a resident of San Ramon,
on Feb 1, 2012 at 12:16 pm

San Ramon Oberver is a registered user.

Yes thank you for writing this, Tom. There are easier and better ways to cut the number of animals in shelters and the cost of "euthanizing" them.

I've been pushing the Pet Lover's License Plate Web Link in my San Ramon Observer blogs. Web Link

The real cost of pet overpopulation according to Judie Mancuso, who is spearheading the CA Spay Plates program, is closer to $300,000,000. The estimated $23M Gov. Brown proposes to save is just for the few extra days to house stray pets. This isn't the answer to overcrowded shelters. Preventing unwanted litters is the answer.

Please sign up for a Spay and Neuter license plate. This program will die if another 4000 plates are not reserved by the end of this June and then hundreds of thousands of innocent animals could die too.

Roz Rogoff

Sorry about the typo in my User Name. It should be San Ramon Observer

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