Fur flies over proposed change to animal shelter law

Valley Humane Society wants to keep 4- to 6-day holding plus record keeping, vet care

Valley Humane Society would be negatively impacted if Gov. Jerry Brown's proposal to repeal the 1998 Hayden Law goes through. It mandates that public shelters must hold animals for four to six days before euthanizing. If the law is repealed, animals will have 72 hours.

"A lot of people claim their animals four or five days after they've been brought in," said Melanie Sadek, executive director of nonprofit adoption organization on Nevada Street in Pleasanton.

They may be on vacation and have hired someone to watch their pet, or they may wait to see if the animal returns on its own.

"The biggest issue is cats," Sadek said. "People will assume they will come back or maybe put up posters first. They don't realize that the place they should call first is the county shelter."

The repeal, which would save the state $23 million, also would do away with mandating veterinarian care and record-keeping, which Sadek said would hurt Valley Humane Society. The nonprofit rescue group gets many of its animals from East County Animal Shelter in Dublin and Tri-City Animal Shelter in Fremont, and it helps adoptions immeasurably to know an animal's background.

"We need to know as much as possible because we need to work with issues that animal has," Sadek said. "And we can't take an animal in that has no vaccinations."

If the shelters don't keep records, she pointed out, even if a Pleasanton Animal Services officer says he turned your pet into the county shelter, it would have no record of having received it or if it had been adopted out or euthanized. Or if it had been given to Valley Humane Society to find a home for it.

"I could have your cat here and wouldn't even know it," Sadek said.

The repeal could also result in cats deemed feral to be euthanized immediately, although there are rescue groups who specialize in socializing feral felines, she said.

"California has really led the way as far as legislation in humane treatment," Sadek said. "If we repeal this, we are setting ourselves back 14 years."

California Department of Public Health records show that 576,097 dogs and cats were euthanized in county shelters in 1997. The number dropped to 327,991 after the law went into effect.

Gov. Schwarzenegger proposed repealing the law in 2009 but backed off after public opposition. Nonetheless he suspended payments to reimburse shelters, and that year the number of euthanized animals went up to 455,046.

The time was right for the legislation when it was introduced by State Sen. Tom Hayden in the late 1990s, according to a report on the Maddies Fund website written in 2004 by Taimie Bryant, a UCLA law professor who assisted Hayden.

"The idea had taken root that, regardless of the circumstances that brought an animal to a shelter, the animal himself or herself deserves an opportunity to live," she wrote.

Also people began to realize that animals needed to be held longer than the 72 hours required in California, one of the shortest holding periods in the country.

The Hayden Law also requires shelters to release animals to nonprofit adoption groups rather than euthanize them.

Sadek said people who want to save the Hayden Law should write to the governor and their state senator and assembly member.

"The letter can be one sentence," she said. "Just let them know it is unacceptable."

She recommended that pet owners microchip their dogs and cats because, by law, shelters much check each animal for a microchip and make every possible attempt to contact the owners.

The Hayden Law is one of 31 reimbursements made by the state to local governments being proposed for change by the governor. Others include SIDS autopsies and stolen vehicle notification.


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Posted by Volunteer
a resident of Country Fair
on Feb 7, 2012 at 8:25 am

Again, another Pleasanton Weekly interview where Sadek thinks its all about her
"I could have your cat here and wouldn't even know it," Sadek said.

She doesn't have the cat.... VHS would...

Like this comment
Posted by Unhappy
a resident of Birdland
on Feb 7, 2012 at 8:27 am

You are right, Volunteer. It is frustrating.

Like this comment
Posted by Okay
a resident of Pleasanton Meadows
on Feb 7, 2012 at 9:09 am

Pet owners had better keep track of your pets! 23 million saved- go for it!

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Posted by AnnaS
a resident of Foothill High School
on Feb 7, 2012 at 9:20 am

All the latest Brown's proposals whether it is about education, state parks or animal shelters are nothing but simple and disgusting blackmailing: "give us more taxes or you will be hurt". They chose areas which have very little or almost no impact on budget, but are important for many people.
I personally know the girl who asked to a visit to an animal shelter as her 10th birthday gift, because children 10-years old are already allowed to volunteer there.
I would like gov. Brown to explain this girl that because government has a money problem she cannot take care about the abused dog who was rescued from his owner and is waiting for a new home.

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Posted by Anja
a resident of Val Vista
on Feb 7, 2012 at 9:48 am

Those of you who have an obvious issue with Melanie, grow up. She is using proper english and is not taking credit for anything. She is making us aware of what is going on in our community/state. I for one was not aware this happening. It's heartbreaking. Melanie has a wealth of information to share and is not afraid to put her name to it, as we can all see you are. [removed]

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Posted by Mr. Geeneyuss
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Feb 7, 2012 at 10:02 am

Hmmmmmmmm, does anybody else find it just mildly odd that while our state is making cuts in education, law enforcement, health care, veterans services and now animal shelters there has yet to be ONE single dime being taken away from either financial, medical, educational or even correctional support/funding for illegal aliens?

So if I understand this correctly I not only work my ass off, pay taxes (some of the highest in the US btw)and yet still constantly affronted by pressure groups that insist I pay MORE taxes to fund their agenda/programs/etc. call me a "1% er", and finally have to support an entire class of people who are not contributing a dime to the system that provides them with all these for free.

Did I just open Ms. Pandora's Box? Sorry.

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Posted by Chuck
a resident of Country Fair
on Feb 7, 2012 at 10:23 am

I agree that something has to be done with the millions and millions of abused pets that belong to illegal aliens. What is a ten year-old supposed to do in the face of Moonbeam's draconian measure to blackmail me into paying more taxes? Vote Republican and save this NATION.

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Posted by Melanie
a resident of another community
on Feb 7, 2012 at 10:35 am

I would like to clarify something in the story. The trailer bill the Governor has put together will save the state 23 million, not the Hayden Law repeal alone. In addition, according to the state records and local intake facilities, the state hasn't be paying anything towards the Hayden Law for two years. The funding was suspended. It remains to be seen how the repeal of this particular law will significantly affect the state budget. The intake facilities in our community are funding primarily through city contracts.

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Posted by Animal Lover
a resident of Downtown
on Feb 7, 2012 at 10:52 am

Thank you Valley Humane Society for taking a stand on this issue!

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Posted by Brad
a resident of Vineyard Hills
on Feb 7, 2012 at 6:16 pm

Agree with Anja...those of you who have a problem with Melanie need to get some professional help. Her statement was grammatically correct and there was absolutely nothing wrong with it. She's putting her name to her words and taking direct action to resolve the problem. What are you doing aside from making snide teenage girl comments behind the anonymity of an alias?

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Posted by Melanie
a resident of San Ramon
on Feb 8, 2012 at 9:46 am

I need to clarify my response yesterday. The Hayden Repeal in theory will save the state 23 million a year. The entire Trailer Bill is a much larger savings to the state. Since the Hayden Law has been suspended for closer to 3 years, no money has been paid out. This means that the 23 million a year isn't a savings at all because it is not currently funded and hasn't negatively affected the state budget for the last three years.

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Posted by San Ramon Observer
a resident of San Ramon
on Feb 8, 2012 at 10:19 am

San Ramon Observer is a registered user.

Repealing the Hayden Act would hurt all Animal Rescue groups throughout the State and not just Valley Humane. I rescue cats for Safe Cat and prior to that for Tri-Valley Animal Rescue.

The best way to cut the expense of housing and euthanizing stray pets is to order a Pet Lovers License plate Web Link and show you care. This program will pay for free or low cost spay and neuter programs to reduce the number of unplanned and unwanted litters of dogs, cats, rabbits, and other pet animals. This would reduce pet overpopulation and make it easier for older animals to be adopted.

CA Spay Plates needs another 3850 preorders by the end of this June, or they will not be accepted by the DMV and tens of thousands of innocent animals will continue to be killed in shelters. Please order one or two or one for every member of your family NOW.


Posted by Name hidden
a resident of Ridgeview Commons

on Apr 24, 2017 at 2:48 pm

Due to repeated violations of our Terms of Use, comments from this poster are automatically removed. Why?

Posted by Name hidden
a resident of Ridgeview Commons

on Jun 5, 2017 at 2:55 pm

Due to repeated violations of our Terms of Use, comments from this poster are automatically removed. Why?

Sorry, but further commenting on this topic has been closed.

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