Legislature Rejects CA Gov. Brown Plan to Repeal Hayden Law

Update April 15, 2012: For now, Gov. Jerry Brown’s plan to repeal portions of Hayden Law have been rejected. The Senate Budget Subcommittee followed the earlier vote of an Assembly budget subcommittee and rejected the repeal. Portions of the law will, however, remain unfunded as they have since 2009. For more on this, read Animal Law Coalition’s earlier reports below.  

Update March 14, 2012: A budget subcommittee in the California Assembly has voted unanimously to reject a plan by Gov. Jerry Brown to repeal portions of Hayden Law.

Marla Tauscher, a California attorney who has led the fight to stop repeal of Hayden Law, explained, ""In short, the subcommittee was not in favor of repeal of the provisions of the Hayden Law.  They did, however, discuss the need to have the issue resolved in policy committees rather than budget committees, rather than considering suspension year after year.  They figure it’s time to come up with a policy solution that will include a funding mechanism and that going backwards is not a good idea." 

On April 11, the Senate Budget Subcommittee 2 will consider the plan. 

For more on this and what else you can do to save Hayden Law, read Animal Law Coalition’s report below. 

Update February 25, 2012: California attorney Marla Tauscher has presented Gov. Jerry Brown with nearly 50,000 signatures of Californians opposed to his plan to repeal large portions of Hayden Law. Go here for more from Ms. Tauscher on the plan …...   For more on this, read Animal Law Coalition’s report below. 

Original report: California Governor Jerry Brown intends to seek the repeal of those provisions of Hayden Law found to be "reimbursable state mandates." This from Jeff Carosone, an analyst in the state Department of Finance assigned to  the Governor’s proposed budget. Carasone referred to the 2001 Statement of Decision (http://www.csm.ca.gov/sodscan/98tc11sod.pdf) and the 2006 Adoption of Parameters and Guidelines (http://www.csm.ca.gov/sodscan/203.pdf).

Hayden Law 

The Hayden Law
consists of a number of laws introduced by then state Sen. Tom Hayden and passed in 1998 as one bill. The purpose of Hayden Law was to reduce shelter euthanasia rates throughout the state, encourage
owner redemption and adoptions and improve the treatment of animals. In passing
this law, the state proposed to end the euthanasia of adoptable and treatable
animals by 2010. Civil Code § 1834.4. CA Food & Agr. Code §17005, CA Penal
Code §599d.

To that end, under the law shelters are generally required to hold dogs, cats,
rabbits, guinea pigs, hamsters, pot-bellied pigs, birds, lizards, snakes,
turtles, or tortoises for 6 business days before euthanizing them. A smaller
shelter that has made the animals available by appointment or one that has been
open for redemption or adoption one evening or one weekend day, is  required to hold them for 4 business days. CA Food & Agr. Code §§ 31108,
31752, 31753.

The Hayden Law also mandates that instead of killing stray animals, public
shelters or agencies must release them to any 501c(3) non-profit group that
requests them. CA Food & Agr. Code §31752

Shelters must take steps to verify whether a cat is actually feral or
simply frightened. If a cat is determined by a standard protocol to be feral,
it may be euthanized after 3 days unless there is a request from a 501c(3)
non-profit group to take it. CA Food & Agr. Code §31752.5.

Under the Hayden Law shelters are required to assist owners in finding or
placing lost animals by: (1) allowing people the ability to list the animals
they have lost or found on "Lost and Found" lists maintained by the
pound or shelter; (2) referring them to animals listed that may be the animals
the owners or finders have lost or found; (3) providing people with the
telephone numbers and addresses of other pounds and shelters in the same
vicinity, (4) advising as to means of publishing and disseminating information
regarding lost animals, and (5) providing the telephone numbers and addresses
of volunteer groups that may be of assistance in locating lost animals. CA Food
& Agr. Code §32001

Recordkeeping is also an important component of the Hayden Law. The records
must include (a) the date the animal was taken up, medically treated,
euthanized, or impounded; (b) the circumstances under which the animal was
taken up, medically treated, euthanized, or impounded; (c) the names of the
personnel who took up, medically treated, euthanized, or impounded the animal;
(d) a description of any medical treatment provided to the animal and the name
of the veterinarian of record, and (e) the final disposition of the animal,
including the name of the person who euthanized the animal or the name and
address of the adopting party. These records must be maintained for three years
after the last date of the animal’s impoundment. CA Food & Agr. Code §32003

Other provisions of the Hayden Law require humane care and treatment of animals
held by shelters including necessary veterinary care.        

The provisions subject to repeal are found here.   Shelters will no longer be required to provide "necessary and prompt veterinary care". CA Civil Code Sec. 1834, 1846. The holding period for dogs and cats will be reduced to 72 hours. Seriously injured or ill cats or newborns unable to feed themselves could be euthanized immediately. There would no longer be a requirement for shelter staff to verify a cat is truly feral and not simply frightened or just difficult. Cats that are simply feral could be euthanized immediately or given to a 501c3 rescue. Tame cats that are frightened or difficult would be required to be held for the 72 hour hold period. There would no longer be a holding period required for rabbits, guinea pigs, hamsters, pot bellied pigs, turtles, birds, snakes or lizards.

Though dogs and cats would still be required to be scanned for microchips and reasonable efforts made to contact owners, the additional steps now required to find owners for lost animals would become optional under the proposed amendments. The recordkeeping requirements that enables the public to determine intake, veterinary care, euthanasia and placement of animals in public shelters would be repealed entirely.

These provisions have all been suspended since July, 2009 and not funded in the budget since that time. 


Contact Governor Jerry Brown, and tell him you OPPOSE the repeal of these portions of Hayden Law. Animals in California’s shelters continue to be killed at rates that far outpace the rates of adoption. The public policy preference of California continues to be favoring life over death, and thus the adoption, rather than killing, of shelter animals. PLEASE be polite.

CALL Gov. Brown at (916) 445-2841 (9 am to 5 pm)

FAX your letter of opposition to repeal of these provisions to Gov. Brown at (916) 558-3177
EMAIL Gov. Brown’s office at http://gov.ca.gov/m_contact.php (choose BUDGET as subject).

POST to Gov. Brown’s Facebook page at http://www.facebook.com/jerrybrown
TWEET to Gov. Brown’s Twitter page at @JerryBrownGov

Don’t Repeal Hayden Law

dog in shelter

Courtesy of Marla Tauscher, California attorney 

Since California enacted the Hayden
Law in 1998, we have taken the lead in humane sheltering legislation and have
served as a model for other states to follow. The overall goal of the Hayden
Law is to promote adoption over killing of California’s shelter pets and to
ensure that animals are treated humanely during the time they are impounded in our
shelters.  The Hayden Law provides the
nation’s most comprehensive protections for shelter animals.  Among other things, it extended the mandatory
holding period for impounded animals from 72 hours to either four or six days to
allow more time for owners to find their lost pets and others to adopt animals
before they are killed.  It also
established minimum standards of care for animals and required shelter
personnel to keep records for each animal taken in. 

part of his proposed cost-saving measures and cuts to the state budget,
Governor Jerry Brown is planning to repeal a number of the Hayden Law
.  In a recent speech, he said
that he would like to see more accountability at the local level in carrying
out state mandated policies.  However, that
position ignores the reality that local governments have proven unable or
unwilling to police themselves with respect to animal shelter regulations.  Despite claims that the paradigm has shifted
and shelters will continue to carry out the provisions of the Hayden Law even
with core provisions repealed, there are still shelters, hopefully a minority
of them, that do not voluntarily comply with the Hayden Law.  

Hayden provides a means of monitoring shelter
conditions and practices and compelling compliance through pro bono legal
efforts, if necessary.   That alone is a
compelling reason to keep the Hayden Law intact.  If the provisions in question are repealed,
countless animals will be killed needlessly before being given a meaningful
opportunity to be reunited with owners or to be adopted by others.  And while they are waiting out their death
sentences in the shelters, they will not be given the most basic of veterinary

without the Hayden record-keeping requirement, animals will be killed without a
trace.  Any transparency with respect to
shelter operations that has been achieved in the last decade or so will be
eliminated.  Many shelters are currently
violating the laws with regard to the holding periods and humane treatment of
shelter animals, which is evident from reviewing their records. Even with the
record-keeping requirement it is difficult to accurately assess conditions at
public shelters, which is advantageous to many of them, particularly to those
that are very poorly run.  Without
records, it will be impossible.  Permitting
local governments to operate their shelters without any records is an
invitation for mismanagement and abuse. 

is most appalling about the proposed repeal of parts of the Hayden Law is that
the provisions in question have already been suspended since July 2009 and
since then have not imposed a burden on state funds.  Repeal of those provisions cannot possibly
help to alleviate the current budget crisis. 
What it will do is to ensure that California will revert back to the
barbaric old days of animal sheltering in which animals are taken in and just
disappear without any accountability whatsoever.  It will further guarantee that animals will
not share in the benefit when the economy recovers and the state has the funds
to reinstate the Hayden Law in its entirety. 

is still work to do to achieve the goals of the Hayden Law, in large part due
to misunderstanding of its provisions and reluctance on the part of local
animal control agencies to promote adoption over killing.  Even over a decade after its enactment, killing
far outpaces adoptions statewide, not because of the Hayden Law, but primarily
due to entrenched ideas and an outdated shelter model that has proven that self-regulation
is ineffective.  That is further
exacerbated by a state reimbursement system, which is not part of the Hayden
Law, that in effect rewards killing.

a time when many other states are moving forward with humane laws, our Governor
is taking a huge leap backward by considering measures that will effectively
destroy the only viable tool for monitoring shelter conditions to promote
transparency and compliance with regulations that require nothing more than
decency dictates.  The results would be
tragic for the countless animals that are unfortunate enough to end up in our shelters.  There is no justification, financial or
otherwise, for repealing laws where to do so will not do anything to alleviate
the budget crisis and will, in fact, irreparably harm countless animals now and
in the future.  If this is truly an issue
of revenue, local governments should enforce existing regulations to collect
penalties and fees, before the state resorts to such draconian measures that
will not resolve any budgetary problems.  


NYC Shelters – and Cats – to Benefit

shelter cat

Update Sept. 22, 2011: Intro 655 was approved yesterday by the New York City Council by a vote of 46-4. 

For more on what this means for New York City’s shelter animals and the city’s feral and owned cats, read Animal Law Coalition’s report below.

Original report: Legislation now under consideration by the New York City Council could mean more than $12 million by the end of fiscal year 2014 for New York City shelter animals. More than 40,000 animals are taken in by Animal Care & Control each year.

Under the proposal the City would also require spay/neuter of cats allowed outside. And, trap neuter return would be recognized and accepted as a means of humanely controlling feral cat populations.  

"Trap-neuter-return" means a program to trap, vaccinate for rabies, sterilize and identify feral cats and return them to locations where they roam free sometimes in colonies with care provided by volunteer caregivers.

The Dept. of Health would be authorized to issue regulations for trap neuter return programs for feral cats. For more information, visit the New York City Feral Cat Initiative website.

The legislation, Intro 655, introduced by Council member Jessica Lappin, reflects a landmark plan developed by Mayor Michael Bloomberg, City Council Speaker Christine Quinn, City Council Member Jessica Lappin, the New York City Department of Health, Animal Care & Control of NYC, the Mayor’s Alliance for NYC’s Animals, and the ASPCA.

With the legislation the City will commit to increasing its investment in the shelters over the next three years. The City’s annual budget for the shelters will be increased more than  $12 million by the end of fiscal year 2014  – 77%  above current funding. The Health Department projects that once this funding increase has been fully implemented, shelter staffing will increase by as many as 100 personnel. 

"In these tough fiscal times, access to increased monies for programs and services that have been stretched so thin is a welcome change," said Jane Hoffman, president of the Mayor’s Alliance.

A victory for the animals and a model program that could influence other communities.

Dog licensing

The Dept. of Health will also work to increase dog licensing. Of the City’s 500,000 or so dogs, only about 20% are licensed. Licensing makes it easier for people to find lost dogs and also provides much needed revenue for the city’s animal services.

To ensure that more New Yorkers license their dogs, the Dept. of Health will:

Launch a City-wide public awareness campaign;

Make it easier to license dogs online and place self-serve licensing kiosks at animal shelters and other sites;

Conduct targeted outreach to remind dog owners of the licensing requirement; and

With the Council, seek state legislation that would increase the base dog licensing fee, currently $8.50, which has not changed in more than 80 years. The legislation would also increase the part of the licensing fee, currently $1 per license, which pet stores and other entities are able to keep if they process a transaction at their facilities.

Revisions made last year to the New York City Code required the health department within 6 months of the law’s effective date of January 1, 2011 "to establish and implement an animal population control program to reduce the population of unwanted stray dogs and cats". The program must encourage spay/neuter "by providing no or low-cost spaying and neutering services…. The department is encouraged to in the animal population control program ‘clinics or mobile units’ for free or low cost spay/neuter services." Sec. 17-1812

The NYC code changes also established "in the joint custody of the city comptroller and commissioner of finance" a city "animal population control fund" consisting of "all moneys collected from the animal population control program", [the license surcharge of at least $3.00 for unaltered dogs] …and all other moneys credited or transferred thereto from any other fund or source pursuant to law. Moneys of the fund shall be … expended for the purposes of carrying out animal population control programs".

Under current law increases in dog licensing fees must be paid into the city’s APCF.

More about Intro 655

Also under Intro 655 the City will not be required to maintain a full service animal shelter in each borough as currently required. Instead, the City will be required to maintain the 3 current full service shelters, one of which must be open to the public to receive animals 24 hours per day 7 days per week. 

The two boroughs without full service shelters, the Bronx and Queens, will maintain intake facilities for "lost, stray or homeless dogs and cats" 7 days per week, 12 hours each day. Currently, intake is available only 8 hours a day for one or two days per week. 

"Field services having the capacity to pick up and bring to a shelter lost, stray, homeless or injured dogs and cats from all five boroughs shall be maintained and operated seven days per week, twelve hours per day. Where public health and safety is threatened, they shall have the capacity to pick up such animals twenty-four hours per day." 

Intro 655 also has additional requirements for reporting numbers related to intake and transfer of animals and staffing levels. The Dept. of Health must issue a report 24 months from the day the bill is signed that will provide key data on trends on the progress at each full service animal shelter and receiving center.

The Mayor’s Alliance for NYC Animals

The Mayor’s Alliance for NYC’s Animals, founded in 2002 and funded by Maddie’s Fund®, The Pet Rescue Foundation, is a coalition of more than 160 animal rescue groups and shelters called New Hope Partners. The mission is to work with New York City to place shelter animals.

Since its inception, the Mayor’s Alliance working with its New Hope partners, AC&C, ASPCA and city officials, has dramatically reduced euthanasia rates for the City’s shelter animals. Seventy percent fewer dogs (3,775) were euthanized at AC&C shelters in 2010 compared to 2003, when well over 12,000 dogs were euthanized, and 60 percent fewer cats (7,847), as compared to 19,487 in 2003.

Follow Intro 655 here. 

Who Will Stop the Killing in Memphis?


Update Sept. 3, 2011: Demetria Hogan, a Memphis Animal Shelter employee with a criminal record, is finally gone, fired after one dog she picked up but delayed bringing to the shelter died of heatstroke and another disappeared. Hogan has been charged with 3 misdemeanor animal cruelty in connection with the dog who died and Kapone, the dog she picked up along with another pet dog but who has not been seen since.

Director Matthew Pepper is also gone. 

So now what? Does all this mean a positive change, less killing at the high kill shelter, better care of the animals? It doesn’t seem likely.

Pepper quit; he wasn’t fired, and, in fact, the city council tried to convince him to stay! MAS was slow to address Hogan’s allegedly criminal activity, the extent of which with respect to Kapone is still not known. 

Mayor A.C. Wharton’s response to the outrage about the ongoing killing, inhumane treatment of animals, and mismanagement at the shelter was to tap the local Rotary Club, to do a free audit. It’s far from clear what expertise the Rotary Club would have to audit the city animal shelter, but that was probably not the reason for their involvement. As it turns out, the president of the local chapter, John Coats, is a good friend of the Mayor’s. Coats was in any event repeatedly asking for the mayor when he was arrested recently for DUI, public intoxication, reckless driving and refusing to take a breathalyzer test. 

An audit from a good friend would have made the Mayor’s operation of the animal shelter look good.

The city also plans to do away with the webcams that has allowed citizens to watch for inhumane treatment  – and watch as staff take animals to be killed.

The MAS Advisory Board now meets in secret…   

Go here for more information: http://yesbiscuit.wordpress.com/category/memphis-animal-shelter/

The city has taken to bullying Shirley Thistlewaite who has exposed through her blog, YesBiscuit, the abuses including the high kill rate at the Memphis Animal Shelter. 

Singer and songwriter Maria Daines has released this song for the animals suffering in the Memphis Animal Shelter.

For information about the abuses at Memphis Animal Shelter, read Animal Law Coalition’s earlier report below.

Original report: It has been one year since Matthew Pepper was hired as the shelter director for Memphis Animal Shelter. And during this time webcams have been in place at the shelter, webcams that were supposed to ensure accountability for any cruel treatment of animals there.

These changes made in 2010 followed a raid on the Memphis Animal Shelter by Shelby County Sheriff in 2009 and shocking indictments of then shelter director Ernest Alexander, and two staff members in early 2010 for animal cruelty.  

The abject cruelty and other criminal activity that prompted the sheriff’s raid began long before Alexander came to work there, however. The city shelter was also the target in 2007 of a clarion call by Memphis-based Animal World USA for changes in the shelter’s operation to stop the killing of over 80% of the animals taken in each year. 

Memphis media outlet ABC 24 Eyewitness News investigative reporter Jenni Deprizio has also been instrumental in bringing every questionable issue to light and trying to hold the city accountable. Memphis advocates Cindy Sanders and Jackie Johns have been tireless as well in working to bring the cruelty and neglect issues and practices to light for the animals at Memphis Animal Shelter.

Pepper has failed to make any improvements and regardless of the webcams, things appear to be worse for the animals.

After the May 11, 2011 MAS Advisory Board meeting, Mayor A.C. Wharton’s Chief of Staff Bobby White was accused  of saying the mayor "would never entertain the fact that a small group of ‘animal lovers’ could talk to him".  The response by city council member Janet Fullilove was "So what?" That seems to sum up well the attitude of the mayor and the MAS administration towards the killing and the cruelty at the shelter.

While the mayor apparently believes it is beneath him to meet with the animal welfare community in Memphis, the kill rate, by his own admission, is 73.1%, a barely perceptible dip from what he claims is the 2010 high of 77.4%. The mayor’s chief of staff, Bobby White, commented during the advisory board meeting he did not know what the city would do with 16,000 impounded dogs. If MAS didn’t kill them, that is.

The mayor initially claimed an increase of 40% in adoptions this year. He then backed away from that claim and said the number of adoptions rose from 674 to 950 animals so far this year.

Advocates dispute any increase in adoptions or drop in the kill rate, however. And the statistics obtained from the Memphis City Attorney support that:

 January – April 2010 rates (the 4 months before Pepper became MAS Director):
 Adopt 12%
 Died 2%
 Euth 73%
 Foster less than 1%
 Missing 2%
 RTO 7%
 Transfer 2%
 January – April 2011 rates:
 Adopt 12%
 Died 1%
 Euth 72%
 Foster less than 1%
 Missing (not reported for Feb, Mar or Apr)
 RTO 6%
 Transfer 5%

The information and photos for many animals are never posted on petfinder or sites maintained by Friends of the Memphis Animal Shelter. There have been complaints that many animals are hidden in the back of the shelter. The public never sees these animals or learns of their existence, and they are not given a chance at adoption of foster care, training, anything.

The shelter limits access of volunteers and generally refuses to work with animal rescue organizations to try to find homes for animals. 

Michelle Buckalew, founder and president of Animal World USA, told attendees of the Board meeting that shelter staff tells the public animals are dead when they are actually alive. "There is no accountability for the employees’ irresponsible behavior and mistreatment of the animals.  We cannot be proud of what goes on behind closed doors at this facility.  …Why aren’t employees fired?" 

Others at the meeting agreed mistreatment of the animals was the biggest problem at the shelter.  Sick dogs were recently left outside at night during severe storms; they were covered only by a blue tarp that allowed cold rainwater to pour on them all night. Dogs are often dragged by catch poles. Animals are not usually sedated prior to euthanasia, only increasing their stress and anxiety. If the needle comes out, the animal can become very agitated. Animals are forced to watch as others are euthanized.

A photo showing a staff member manhandling a non-aggressive Lab mix and flinging the terrified dog in the air was explained away as "acceptable". Animals are left in the kennels while they are hosed down, leaving them wet with urine soaked spray.

The indifference and cruelty that characterizes treatment of animals at MAS was epitomized by a webcam photo shown this week of a shelter worker with a garbage can full of puppies.  In what Jon Stewart would call a Zen moment, the mayor assured everyone this was an "isolated instance of poor judgment" and  the shelter staff is "compassionate".

YesBiscuit has collected more, a slideshow of "isolated instances of poor judgment".

White described this as a marketing problem. It could be a political as well as legal problem, however, for Mayor Wharton and Pepper and their staff at MAS.

White said at the MAS advisory board meeting he did not understand why "so much emphasis" is put on the way animals are treated. Someone should remind the mayor and Pepper that animal cruelty is illegal.  

Go here to watch the shelter on the webcam.


Contact Tennessee Attorney General Robert
E. Cooper, Jr. and urge him to initiate an investigation into the inhumane treatment of animals at MAS:
Office of the Attorney General and Reporter
P.O. Box 20207
Nashville, TN 37202-0207
Telephone: (615) 741-3491
Fax: (615) 741-2009

Continue to contact city officials and urge them to follow the law and provide trained, competent and caring staff for the shelter, open the shelter to volunteers and the public and implement policies to reduce immediately the kill rate and increase adoptions.

Hold Mayor Wharton accountable:
Email:  ac.wharton@memphistn.gov
Office:  (901) 576-6000
Mail:  Office of the Mayor, 125 N. Main Street, Memphis, TN 38103
Contact Memphis City Council:

125 North Main Street, Room 514
Memphis, TN 38103
Ph: (901) 576-6786

Contact Public Services Director Janet Hooks:

125 N. Main Street, Suite 200
Memphis, TN 38103
Ph:(901) 636-6564