Governor's Plan to Save Money By Killing Puppies and Kitties Shouldn't Lead to Spike In Euthanizations Here (For Now)

Categories: Government
The governor has suggested saving money by speeding up the process of killing dogs and cats in shelters. You think voters might object? Look at this picture -- LOOK AT IT!
You know you've sailed into truly surreal political waters when the governor of a modern state suggests -- seriously suggests -- we save money by slaughtering more puppies and kittens. Either that or Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, like an adolescent hypnotically toying with a painfully loose tooth, is trying to see how low his popularity numbers can go.

If you hadn't yet heard, the governor's big plan to save the state money is to repeal the 11-year-old "Hayden Bill," which would knock the minimum amount of time an animal shelter must hold onto a dog or cat before euthanizing it from six days down to three. While the Legislative Analyst's Office points out that $23 million is yearly spent for those extra three days feeding and housing animals that go on to be put down anyway -- let us, once again note that a serious politician (albeit one who thrice portrayed a robotic killing machine) is pushing for fiscal solvency via snuffing dogs and cats.

San Francisco Animal Care and Control director Rebecca Katz told SF Weekly that, even if the Haden Bill is terminated, it won't be open season on pets locally: "The quick and dirty answer is, locally, we don't intend to change our practices on how long we hold a stray animal," she says. "I don't know that will always be the case, but that is our intention."

Katz says that San Francisco's "live release rate" is 85 percent; this is the tally of the proportion of animals that enter the shelter breathing and leave the same way (sans owner-requested euthanasia).

The director predicts that shelters  in other parts of California that have been harder hit by the economic crunch may well start culling animals more quickly -- meaning that, if your dog hops the fence when you're out of town for a long weekend, that could be all it takes. "I'm a little torn on this," admits Katz. "I know people are suffering all over the city and state because of health and human services cuts. That said, millions of animals are being put down every year becuase there aren't enough places for them to be placed."

And, she notes, it could have been worse: Prior to suggesting a mere rolling back of the Hayden Bill, the governor proposed doing away with any waiting periods whatsoever -- meaning you could catch-and-dispatch a dog or cat within a matter of hours. Still, the plan to ease the rules governing the killing of dogs and cats is no done deal. Nothing gets people worked up like stories about animals -- and it's a good bet that a flood of angry calls and letters may sway this public debate.

In the meantime, on July 1 the SFACC is celebrating its 20th anniversary by offering 20 percent discounts on adoptions.

We're just putting it out there...

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