Now I realize that California is in serious crisis mode and we need to figure out how to save money. But our governator, in his infinite wisdom, has decided that decreasing the number of days that lost animals are legally mandated to be held in public shelters is a good way to save money!
Well clearly, someone has gravely misinformed the governor about this. Let's look at this situation closely...
Fido escapes from Mr. and Mrs. Smith's back yard at 9AM on Monday after the meter reader leaves a gate open. Animal Control impounds Fido, who unfortunately is not wearing his collar and I.D. tag. (He just got a bath Sunday evening and the family forgot to put his collar back on.) Furthermore, he has no microchip—a miniature I.D. that is injected just under the skin between the shoulder blades—and no other identifying markers like tattoos, etc. Consequently, Animal Control has no way of knowing where Fido lives. Mr. and Mrs. Smith return home from work at 6PM and discover, to their horror, that Fido is missing. They knock on all their neighbors' doors. No one has a clue about Fido's whereabouts.
The Smith's have their 10-year-old daughter make posters of their lost pet. They put the posters up on telephone poles and walls throughout their neighborhood. (Code enforcement promptly removes all the signs, unbeknownst to the Smiths!)
The family is devastated. They call the animal shelter and inquire if a dog matching their pet's description has been picked up. The shelter worker informs them that there is no way to know for sure if Fido has been impounded since the dog is a shepherd mix and there could be any number of dogs at the shelter that match that description. They are instructed to come look for themselves.
The Smiths, who cannot take time off of work or they will lose their jobs, tell their heartbroken daughter that they will go to the animal shelter first thing Saturday morning.
True to their promise, the Smiths head on over to the shelter. They look in each and every kennel...but Fido is nowhere to be found! They show his picture to a kennel attendant who immediately recognizes the dog.
"Oh yes," he says. "He came in on Monday. He was held for three days and when no one showed up, he was euthanized."
The Smith's little daughter breaks down in tears, and her parents are simultaneously shocked and furious. The kennel attendant explains that the governor shortened the hold periods for pets at shelters and that there was nothing they could do about it because there is no money anymore to hold animals!
BUT...the Smith's would have paid the impound fees had their pet still been at the shelter. Therefore, by killing Fido, the money for its impound, shelter care, and euthanasia were ultimately charged to the taxpayer!
I wrote to the governor and told him there are many other ways to save money with regards to public animal sheltering. First...he needs to support SB250 and sign the bill when it comes to his desk. This will require the spaying and neutering of unaltered pets who are found roaming neighborhoods....in essence, the pets who belong to irresponsible pet owners who are contributing to pet overpopulation. We kill a half a million animals each and every year in this state at a taxpayer cost of a quarter of a billion dollars! That is where we need to save money...not on shelter retention periods!
Next, we need to implement a law that requires all pets to have microchips. That way, when they get lost and end up in a shelter, the owners can be contacted immediately and all sheltering and impound costs can be recovered...And innocent pets can be returned to their homes rather than be killed!
It's really a no-brainer.
Well, I spelled this all out to the governor...he sent me a canned response...twice! Hmmmm!
Here's what "he" said...I do wonder if he even wrote this!
"Thank you for sharing your concerns with me about the proposal to lift restrictions on hold times at animal shelters. I value your input during these challenging economic times. As you know, we are in the midst of the greatest economic crisis since the Great Depression. We now face a budget shortfall that has grown to $24.3 billion. I have proposed cuts that I would have never proposed except in a worst-case scenario, including eliminating General Fund support for programs like Healthy Families, CalWORKs, Cal Grants and State Parks. This was not an easy decision for me. As a dog owner myself, I have always supported animal welfare and have worked to ensure the humane treatment of animals. Currently, the state requires all shelters to hold stray animals for four or six days and reimburses them for the associated costs. To address our budget crisis, I have proposed to suspend some Non-Proposition 98 mandates, including the reimbursement funds for these shelters. To help local shelters deal with the challenges of this difficult budget situation, I have also proposed that the state no longer require the four or six day hold time. Shelters still have the flexibility to keep the animals for more days, but my proposal avoids placing an unnecessary burden on local communities. As I work with my partners in the Legislature to find solutions to these problems, know that I will keep your thoughts in mind. Working together, I believe we can weather this storm and start the slow but steady march back toward prosperity. Sincerely, Arnold Schwarzenegger"
If you want to tell the governor how you feel about this, you can call the governor’s office at 916-445-2841 or leave him an e-mail him at http://gov.ca.gov/interact#email.