So, a friend of mine posted this link on facebook – http://www.nathanwinograd.com/?p=8143
Normally, I don’t bother with political crap. No, really, I don’t. When Sean starts talking about political agendas and who said what and who’s not doing what they said, I tune out.
But this? This has me MAD.
As a small animal rescue volunteer, I see first hand the terrible conditions in shelters. I see shelter workers who don’t know how to tell a boy guinea pig from a girl, and so they put them all together in a wire-bottomed cage and hope for the best.
I see pregnant guinea pigs, with no hair, and huge scratches down their backs because the people at the shelters don’t know how to treat a guinea pig for mites – and wouldn’t do it even if they did. I see pigs suffering from scurvy (TOTALLY PREVENTABLE!), mites, pregnancy, hair loss, etc.
I see how hard our organization works to rescue each and every guinea pig that comes into a shelter. I see how even if we don’t have room for them, we send shelter scouts to bring the guinea pigs food, fresh veggies, and to take pictures of them. We post these pictures, hoping that someone will adopt straight from the shelter.
In September of last year, our rescue, in collaboration with 2 others (one in San Diego, the other in Arizona), took in over 175 guinea pigs in one week – all at the same shelter, which was unequipped to handle 2 guinea pigs, let alone almost 200! We all stretched ourselves far too thin, taking more guinea pigs into our homes than normal. And then, all of the females gave birth. 22 of them had no ears. Several had massive hair loss from mites and back-breeding (back-to-back pregnancies throughout their lives). Several had severe cuts across their backs from scratching at the mites. A couple of them didn’t make it. After taking them in, we were unable to take in ANY shelter guinea pigs for months. We had no room for them. I, myself, had 20 guinea pigs living in my house – 2 of my own, 4 mothers, and 14 newborn babies.
Finally, in the new year, we have been able to start pulling pigs out of shelters again. But all of those pigs from September to December that we couldn’t save? Euthanized. All because someone’s kid got tired of taking care of an animal that lives 6-10 years when well taken care of.
So what does this have to do with the ‘political crap’ I hate so much?
Governor Jerry Brown (along with the Humane Society of the United States!!) wants to repeal provisions from the Hayden Law.
What is the Hayden Law?
Wikipedia states, “This legislation made animal shelters in California more accountable and gave the public longer to find their lost animals before they were euthanized. It mandated more “work friendly” hours to the public for going to the shelters, and after a few years of the law being in place (July 1, 2001), began offering owner-surrendered animals the same amount of time (four to six business days, not including the day of impoundment) to remain alive before being eligible for euthanasia.”
Before the introduction of the Hayden Law, many animal shelters didn’t keep accurate records of the animals in their facilities. Even still, many animals get ‘lost in the system,’ and don’t get adopted because ‘we have no record of the animal being there.’ I saw this first-hand myself while helping rescue some of the September guinea pigs. They only had record of 21 of the 22 guinea pigs I was there to pick up, and almost refused to hand over ANY of them because of this.
Also, many shelters were only open Monday through Friday, 9AM-5PM. If you had a lost pet and a 9-5 job, you had absolutely no hope of getting your family member back. Now, shelters are required to be open at least one evening per week, or one weekend day.
Another common practice before Hayden Law: if an animal was surrendered to the shelter by its’ owner, it was euthanized upon arrival. It never even had a chance to find a new home!
This law also required shelters to hold animals for at least 4 days before they were eligible for euthanasia. Before, most only held them for 72. This allows more time for families to claim lost pets, and also allows animals a better chance of finding a new home.
One other IMPORTANT thing this law does is require shelters to work with rescues. If there is a rescue in the area that is willing and able to take an animal in, the shelter MUST release the animal to the rescue as opposed to euthanizing it. Previously, many shelters did not work with rescues. They would rather euthanize an animal rather than do the paperwork that would send it to the safety of a foster home until it could be adopted.
What’s happening now?
With the economy in the dumps, the government hasn’t been able to fund the backing for this legislation any longer. For the past couple of years, no one has been checking up on these shelters. Well now, Governor Jerry Brown (AND the Humane Society of the United States!!) want to repeal provisions in this law altogether. They say that because there has been a ‘paradigm shift,’ there is no longer any need for us to support this law. They think that if they take the law away, the shelters will continue to uphold the new standards anyway. THIS IS BULLSHIT. These places want to make money. They will cut hours, cut spending on these animals, and euthanize more of them so that they don’t have to deal with them.
This is especially true for small animals. While cats and dogs are currently held for at minimum 4 days before being eligible for euthanasia, small animals like rabbits, guinea pigs, birds, and reptiles often don’t get the same treatment. Sure, the “cells” the dogs and cats are kept in are not adequate for long-term care. However, many small animals are not even put in cages that are SAFE for the time that they are there (which is often only for 2 days, or less. We have heard many stories of guinea pigs being euthanized upon entry). Many times these animals are on cages that have wire flooring – which can cause bumblefoot in guinea pigs, and rabbits can get their little feet stuck. Often these animals are not given proper nutrition; rabbit and hamster pellets are NOT adequate sustenance for guinea pigs. They also need an unlimited amount of timothy or orchard hay, and fresh veggies daily. When a dog or cat gets adopted, the shelter will tell them that they should use an anti-flea medicine. But what about guinea pigs? They get mites. Mites don’t live on dogs or cats, but they bite guinea pigs just like fleas. This is incredibly painful, and a guinea pig with too many mites can have seizures, and cut themselves attempting to scratch the parasites off. But treatment is simple. Yet no one knows these things, or bothers to pass the information on.
If Governor Brown repeals this important piece of legislation, not only will dogs and cats across California suffer, but it will mean so much more for the small animals. Many of the small animals in Southern California do not get their pictures taken. They do not get posted on shelter websites. Most people I’ve talked to about the work I do don’t even KNOW that you CAN find small animals at shelters. They just walk into their nearest pet store and buy. With over 100 guinea pigs in our rescue’s foster home system currently, I know firsthand how many little lives our rescue saves annually – and know that all of these creatures would be dead if it weren’t for us.
Please read the article at the top, and contact Governor Jerry Brown. Tell him you don’t want him repealing any part of the Hayden Law. Cutting the budget shouldn’t mean death for shelter animals.
CALL Governor Brown at (916) 445-2841 (9 am to 5 pm)
FAX your letter of opposition (916) 558-3177
EMAIL the governor’s office at http://gov.ca.gov/m_contact.php (choose BUDGET as subject).
POST to his Facebook page at http://www.facebook.com/jerrybrown
CONTACT him through his Twitter page at @JerryBrownGov