Cat Group Opposes Repeal of California’s Life Saving Hayden Shelter Law

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Stray Cat Alliance, a national nonprofit advocacy organization for the humane care, rescue and protection of cats, today announced it opposes California Governor Jerry Brown’s plan to repeal provisions of  SB 1785, The Hayden Law, and will work aggressively to encourage county and city animal sheltersto implement humane, cost-effective spay/neuter programs for free-roaming community cats.

At issue are several provisions for the welfare and care of cats, dogs and other animals. If repealed, shelters can kill pets after 72 hours without a chance for adoption or return to their families. Shelters would no longer need to verify whether a cat is feral or tame, or provide necessary veterinary care. The law was introduced in 1998 by then-State Senator Tom Hayden to allow families more time to recover lost pets and make California shelters more accountable to animals in their care.

“The Hayden Law is the only legal protection shelter animals have in terms of minimal medical care and the opportunity for possible adoption and redemption,” said Stray Cat Alliance executive director Christi Metropole. “This is a life-and-death issue for California’s impounded animals, who are in extreme danger and will die in mass numbers, when the real solution is spay/neuter services for all animals including trap/neuter/return for free-roaming community cats.”

Aggressive spay neuter programs including trap/neuter/return are more cost-effective than the traditional trap-and-kill methods employed by animal shelters. In California, the cost to house, euthanize and dispose of the remains of each cat or dog is approximately $250 while fixing a cat or dog can cost less than $50.

The governor’s proposal to repeal “reimbursable state mandates” in The Hayden Law would save the state an estimated $23 million out of a total budget of $137 billion, or .017 percent. In contrast, a well run spay/neuter program could save over $48 million.

Currently, 70-90 percent of cats do not leave California shelters alive, and more than 50 percent of dogs. However, in other areas of the United States, trap/neuter/return programs are successfully reducing the population of stray and feral cats. Fairfax County, Va.’s T/N/R program has resulted in a 58 percent decrease in the number of feral offspring in the shelter in 2011 compared to 2010.

Stray Cat Alliance offers California cities and counties a workshop for shelter personnel and rescue groups on how to run an effective T/N/R program.

Stray Cat Alliance has garnered thousands of signatures of Californians opposed to this action on a petition on the organization’s web site, and urges animal lovers to contact the governor to express opposition, providing a sample letter with key points. Members of Stray Cat Alliance plan to present the petition to the Governor in person.


Video appeal by former California State Senator Tom Hayden, imploring Governor brown to drop his proposal to repeal the law to save the lives of shelter pets; for those who have not yet seen it.



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