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Hayden Bill Repeal Effort—Update

Budget cut could mean shelter animals lose life-saving time
By Tom Cushing, March 2012, Updated May 2022

As citizens of the Golden State know, the California budget takes a tortuous route to passage—even in the best of times. These aren’t those times, especially for animal partisans, since Governor Jerry Brown has recommended repeal of the state’s landmark shelter animal protection law, known as the Hayden Bill.


Repeal is sought to save a theoretical $23 million in state payments to local shelters, intended to reimburse them for expenses associated with not-killing impounded pets for about six days. That so-called “Hayden-hold” period is crucial to reuniting strays with their families, and mobilizing the state’s burgeoning rescue network to promote the adoption alternative. Hayden was enacted to convert California’s facilities from disposal sites to life-saving shelters in a much truer sense of the term.



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While success is as-yet incomplete, the state has made remarkable progress in stemming the tragic killing of animals whose worst sins are generally that they chose the wrong people. Shelter pets have even achieved a certain cachet among dog park regulars. Much remains to be done, and Hayden is a critical part of the infrastructure of progress.


Repeal would destabilize the system and threaten those gains. Worse—it is utterly unnecessary, as the savings are easily otherwise achievable. The term “theoretical” savings was used above because the State hasn’t actually reimbursed those local expenses since 2009, when repayments were “suspended.” Thus the Hayden-hold has not cost the state as much as a dog biscuit since that time—and it needn’t in fiscal 2012–13, when suspension is again an option.


Kindly consider doing two things in support of Hayden:


1. The first hearing on this matter of so-called state mandates (reimbursements), including Hayden, is Tuesday, March 13, at 1:30 p.m. at the Capitol in Sacramento, Room 447.

As of this writing, the specific agenda has not been set, but we know who the sub-committee members are. Email them, fax and call them: they need to know the consequences of their actions on this issue, both canine and electoral! (Pols are nearly as famous for family portraits that include Fido as they are for kissing babies. THIS is their opportunity to reimburse Fido for his dedicated service.) You'll find contact information for all subcommittee members in the box below. Note how similar the email and other addresses are—mass-produce and send ‘em onward!


2. Attend the Capitol Lawn Rally planned for that day, starting at high noon. The scheudule is as follows:

11:45 - Arrive on North Steps of Capitol
12:00 - Rally/press conference
12:30 - Enter the Capitol and proceed to Room 447
1:30 - Assembly Budget Subcommittee meeting starts

Signs will be provided. Well-behaved, leashed dogs are allowed on Capitol grounds, but not inside the Capitol building, so please keep that in mind for this combination outdoor/indoor event. As always, bring those disposal bags. See updates here.

Tom Cushing works to place stray animals and lawyers into new situations where they may prosper. He lives in the San Francisco Bay Area.