Animal shelter mandate rewards shelters that kill most animals?
After taking heat from animal activists, Gov. Jerry Brown's administration is defending its push to repeal a state law that lengthened the amount of time animal shelters must hold stray and abandoned pets before euthanizing them.
H.D. Palmer, a spokesman for Brown's Department of Finance, said the mandate contains a "perverse fiscal incentive" that rewards shelters that kill the most animals.
He pointed to a 2008 report from the legislative analyst's office that found "no evidence" and "little reason to believe" that longer holding periods had resulted in increased adoptions, the intent of the law.
In fact, the report said that because of the way the mandate is implemented "shelters do not get more state funds if more households adopt animals. Rather, shelters that euthanize the most animals receive the most state funds."
In an online video posted on YouTube this week, activist Tom Hayden explained that as a state senator he wrote the legislation in 1998 to make euthanization a last resort and asked Brown to look at his own dog, Sutter, "before you allow this bill that protects animals to die."
Name-checking California's first dog could strike a chord with the Capitol crowd.
Since Brown's inauguration last year, Sutter has been a bona fide celebrity -- at least by Sacramento standards. After Sutter attracted front-page headlines and Capitol admirers, the governor's office created an official website and Facebook page for the canine. An unofficial Twitter account has thousands of followers.
Suspended in 2009, the animal shelter mandate is one of roughly 30 that Brown wants to repeal to save money in the upcoming fiscal year.
-- Michael J. Mishak in Sacramento
Photo: Michelle Johnston greets Sutter in a Capitol hallway.
Credit: Don Kelsen/Los Angeles Times