Animal activists step up campaign to save California shelter law
The Stray Cat Alliance is not backing down.
Animal activists have pledged to continue their campaign to pressure Gov. Jerry Brown to preserve California's shelter law, enlisting state and local lawmakers and vowing to highlight their cause in Capitol budget hearings.
The law, which lengthened the amount of time shelters must hold stray and abandoned pets before euthanizing them, is on a list of mandates Brown wants to eliminate. The governor has said that shortening the hold period from six days to three would save the state about $46 million per year.
Armed with a petition of more than 13,500 signatures, members of the Stray Cat Alliance met with Brown's finance staff last week to convince the governor otherwise. Christi Metropole, the group's executive director, said officials were not persuaded.
"We don’t believe the Governor's office understands this issue fully yet, and how dire the future will be for animals if it is permanently repealed," she said in a statement. "Californians need to keep up the pressure and explain this is precedent-setting law that saves lives and saves tax dollars."
For its part, the administration has cited a 2008 report from the Legislative Analyst's Office that found "no evidence" that longer holding periods had resulted in increased adoptions, the intent of the law. Brown's office has also said the state can no longer afford the costs at a time when it is slashing social services to balance the budget.
The administration said it is only proposing the repeal of certain provisions.
"Nothing in this proposal would prohibit a city or county from having a hold period that is longer than three days," said Department of Finance spokesman H.D. Palmer. "It simply says the state will not be paying any additional costs."
Activists touted their own numbers, arguing that the Hayden Law, named after former Democratic state Sen. Tom Hayden, had reduced the number of cats and dogs killed in shelters. They note that the law has been suspended since 2009 and is not costing the state money.
The Stray Cat Alliance will push its case Wednesday at a news conference with Los Angeles City Councilman Paul Koretz. Next week, activists plan to pack a budget subcommittee hearing.
Meanwhile, Brown can't seem to escape the issue.
When the governor visited a labor leader last month to discuss a tax initiative, he faced questions from the union official's 12-year-old daughter. She was writing a report on Brown's effort to repeal portions of the shelter law.
--Michael J. Mishak in Sacramento
Photo: Gov. Jerry Brown and his wife, Anne Gust Brown, walking their dog, Sutter. Credit: Robert Gauthier / Los Angeles Times