The main problem here is that Dr. Gary Michelson intentionally hired someone with noooooo animal control, animal shelter or animal rescue experience. This is all Aimee Gilbreath's fault. I feel bad that Jennifer Fearing of HSUS got duped into this. While I highly doubt for-profit vivisectors would have taken the cats for nefarious purposes, anyone who writes legislation needs to make sure there are no loopholes. I was distracted and did not realize this was a proposed bill. I thought it was just some ideas being floated. One, someone could take advantage of the loophole. Two, Nathan Winograd and other groups could use the loophole to attack HSUS and Dr Gary Michelson. This mistake makes Dr. Gary Michelson look stupid, inexperienced and inhumane.
- Funding Problems: There are many problems with the block funding structure. The $10 million block grant is not enough money to fund all it purports to do in all jurisdictions in California. The timing of grant application and award would result in qualifying jurisdictions only receiving funding during the last few months of the funding year. It is not guaranteed that each jurisdiction would receive all money it is entitled to based on its costs, raising questions of whether the holding periods would still apply. Agencies would have great difficulty changing operational practices back and forth based on whether or not they receive funding, causing confusion among staff and the public. The highly unusual and controversial public hearing requirement for agencies that elect not to apply for funding would create an unfunded state mandate that local government agencies will challenge. This program may be unconstitutional because it is not applied evenly. Finally, the use of block grant funding erodes the award of SB 90 funds, an option that most local governmental jurisdictions would not support.
- Animal Welfare Problems: Since the bill only imposes (reduced) holding periods on a “local government entity thatreceives block grant funding,” it eliminates all holding periods for shelters that do not “receive” funding and on all nonprofit humane societies and SPCAs. Even worse, this bill eliminates holding periods for cats entirely. This is of great concern to all interested in animal welfare and in meeting the primary goal of animal shelters--reuniting lost pets with their owners. Pet owners will not understand the disparity in holding periods between jurisdictions, whether their local jurisdictions is a “block grant” agency and when it might be too late to reclaim their lost pets. Cat owners may never have a chance to reclaim a lost cat because it was released immediately upon its arrival at the animal shelter. This is a great stride backwards for protecting our cat companions and relegates them to an inferior pet status.
- Lack of Uniformity: The passage of the bill would result in a great deal of disparity in holding periods within counties that have multiple agencies, as well as all over the state. Agencies serving adjacent jurisdictions may have different holding periods from one another. Animals do not understand city or county boundaries and may wander into a jurisdiction with different holding periods than the one in which they live. Their owner may search for their pet within a holding period framework that is different and never be able to reclaim their beloved pet.
- Conflicts with Existing Law: AB 2343 conflicts with existing and well-established state law. One conflict arises in the addition of subsection (b) to Food & Agricultural Code §31754: “Nothing in this section is intended to require a public or private shelter to admit an animal that is relinquished by the owner.” This is not only against public policy, but is also contra to existing law. Civil Code §1816 requires “A public agency or shelter with whom an abandoned animal is deposited in the manner provided in §1815 (delivery of stray live animal by any person)” to take charge of the animal. Food & Agricultural Code §31754 requires that an owner-relinquished animal be treated the same as a stray. Penal Code §597.1 requires that, “Any peace officer, humane society officer, or animal control officer shall take possession of the stray or abandoned animal...” (emphasis added). The duty of public animal shelters to accept stray or unwanted animals is not only a well-established bylaw, but is a function expected by the taxpayers concerned about public safety and animal welfare. Removing this public safety net will result in dangerous consequences.
- Unconstitutional Taking of Property Without Due Process: Removal of holding periods for puppies and kittens less than four months of age, and all cats, would result in the release of animals before an owner could reclaim them. By removing an owner’s reasonable opportunity to reclaim their lost pets (which are considered property under the law), this bill would create opportunities for unlawful conversion of property and unconstitutional taking of property without due process.
- Mandated Release of Dogs and Cats to For-Profit Entities: This bill requires the release of dogs and cats to unregulated for-profit organizations, who could sell the animals to any person or organization.
- Increased Litigation for Local Government and Nonprofit Shelters: This bill would open the door to many more lawsuits due to the problems mentioned above. The increased costs of litigation would be borne by the taxpayers who fund local government agencies and the donors who support nonprofit organizations. This unfairly burdens the agencies and their supporters and would be an unwelcome and costly result from this bill, draining resources that could better be used for saving animals’ lives.
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