Tuesday, April 15, 2014
UCLA law professor Taimie Bryant who wrote Hayden act opposes White Paper, Dr. Gary Michelson
UCLA law professor Taimie Bryant who wrote the Hayden Act opposes Dr Gary Michelson of Found Animals Foundation "white paper" bill AB 2343. I've known Taimie Bryant for years. I even sat in on two class sessions at UCLA. She calls me when wildlife is ill, injured or orphaned at UCLA. While we don't agree on everything, she knows what she's talking about. I don't believe for-profit vivisectors will want to take the cats because they can pick them up for free off the streets right now. I do agree that we should not get rid of the hold times.
UNIVERSITY OF CALIFORNIA, LOS ANGELES
BERKELEY • DAVIS • IRVINE • LOS ANGELES • MERCED • RIVERSIDE • SAN DIEGO • SAN FRANCISCO SANTA BARBARA • SANTA CRUZ
TAIMIE L. BRYANT
PROFESSOR OF LAW
SCHOOL OF LAW
LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA 90095-1476
Phone: (310) 206-3763
April 13, 2014
To: Members of the Committee on Local Government
Cc: Assemblymember Gatto
Re: AB 2343
I write to you not as a representative of the University of California but as a professor of law at UCLA
School of Law, where I specialize in animal law. I have published articles about California’s animal
shelter laws, and I teach a course specifically about animal shelter law. I was involved in the legislative
drafting and advocacy that led to enactment of many of the original provisions of the 1998 Animal
Shelter Law, which AB 2343 seeks to amend (in addition to other laws that were not part of the 1998
Animal Shelter Law). I write in this capacity to share my assessment that, if enacted in its current
form, AB 2343 will harm animals by eliminating the state holding period for sheltered animals,
significantly increase lawsuits against local governments and the State, waste the State’s money on
establishing and trying to administer a problematic and half-baked “grant program,” imperil animals by
subjecting them to mandatory release to for-profit entities, regardless of those entities’ intended uses of
the animals, and cause considerable confusion as to whether particular state laws are or are not in force
in a particular place.
I. AB 2343 eliminates statewide holding periods for sheltered animals.
If AB 2343 is enacted in its current form, shelters will be allowed to kill any animal immediately,
without regard to whether they are owner-surrendered or stray, after funds allocated for the Budget
Year of 2015-16 have been expended. AB 2343 replaces existing statewide holding periods with
holding periods that apply only in jurisdictions that receive “block grant funding” that is allocated only
during the 2015-16 Budget Year. No local government must apply for block grant funding. In any
case, after that funding runs out, there would be no state holding periods because enforceability of the
holding periods is explicitly dependent on receipt of “block grant funding,” with no allocation secured
for budget years following the 2015-16 Budget Year. Taxpayers expect to have an opportunity to
redeem their companion animals and to adopt new companion animals. Statewide holding periods have
been in existence for many decades, and they shouldn’t be eliminated through stealth, incompetence,
inadvertence, or badly worded legislation.
II. Even if AB 2343 provisions are amended to run in tandem with existing statewide holding periods
for jurisdictions that do not apply for or receive block grant funding, AB 2343 does not help animals
sufficiently for the state costs incurred.
AB 2343 provides that local governmental entities may apply for “block grant funding” if they commit
to holding animals for the periods of time originally enacted in 1998, with some relief as to obligations
to cats and their owners (to be discussed later). There are some shelter systems in California that have
remained in compliance with the original holding period requirements because they codified those
requirements in their municipal laws or they adopted those requirements as part of shelter policies.
Those would be the local governmental entities most likely to apply for the funds because they would
have to do nothing different in order to get the money.
Even if the legislation is rewritten to provide for eligibility only by local governments that do not
currently have the requirements codified in municipal laws or incorporated into shelter policies, such
would only stimulate some local governments to amend their laws or policies so that they would then
be eligible for funding. In that case, AB 2343 causes the direct opposite effect of its stated intent.
I predict that few local governments would actually agree to comply with the eligibility requirements,
if they are not already, because there is no guarantee of funding sufficient to justify going through the
process of making changes that might be funded quite minimally and only for one year. AB 2343
anticipates that the Department of Public Health would have administrative costs but does not specify
how much those administrative costs would diminish the $10 million block grant funding. Section 1(c)
of AB 2343 establishes that managerial responsibility and states that only a “portion of those funds
[would be] used for the care of stray animals in shelters.” Those administrative costs could absorb
most of the allocation in any case, and is particularly likely in this case because the grant program is so
In short, there is no guarantee of a specified amount of money that would be available for division
among different local governmental entities that apply for funds. We would see very little actual
improvement for animals for the expenditure of $10 million in state funds. The Department of Public
Health is likely to be the only financial winner.
III. AB 2343 has high potential to increase lawsuits against local government and against the State.
Without regard to the ownership interests of cat owners, AB 2343 allows shelters to vest title in a new
owner immediately after a cat enters the shelter if the cat does not have owner identification at the time
of entry. Typical forms of identification include microchips and cat collars with tags. Many people
believe that giving their cats freedom to roam is respectful of cats’ inherent nature and that collars pose
strangulation hazards if the collar gets hung-up on something. Some owners do not use collars for that
reason. Others use “break-away” collars that have broken away by the time the cat enters the shelter.
Collars of all types may have loosened and fallen off, including at the shelter. That a cat comes into the
shelter without a collar says nothing about whether the owner conscientiously put a collar on the cat or
loves the cat. Similarly, microchips notoriously drift from the insertion site, and shelter workers are not
always careful to scan for microchips, if they think to scan a cat at all. Accordingly, we can expect to
see increased litigation against shelters for failures to scan for microchips, to note the existence of a
collar with tags, or to properly identify and contact the owner. We already see such litigation now, but
litigation will increase exponentially if owners have no opportunity at all to claim a cat before title is
vested in a new owner. Shelter failures to scan properly or to contact owners properly will become
primary litigation targets because the consequences for owners are so severe.
We will likely see litigation directed against local governments and the State, with the claim that AB
2343 results in an unconstitutional deprivation of property without due process. As mentioned above,
there are many reasons why a cat would enter the shelter without identification, despite an owner’s
conscientious attempts to put identification on the cat.
We will likely also see litigation because of AB 2343’s provision for mandatory release to for-profit
entities. The existing mandatory release obligation to nonprofits is limited to those IRC sec. 501(c)(3)
organizations that are animal rescue or adoption organizations, but there is no such explicit limitation
on AB 2343’s mandatory release obligation to for-profit organizations. To provide just one example of
litigation risk, cities and counties that have enacted “pound seizure” laws to prevent diversion of
companion animals into research and testing laboratories will be confronted with the problem that AB
2343 states explicitly on its face that animals slated for euthanasia must be released to for-profit
entities, to the extent that those shelters receive block grant funding, even if the for-profit entity is a
research or toxicity testing lab or a “random source buncher” who resells to such labs.
The cumulative financial effect of potential lawsuits far exceeds the minimal amount of funding
promised by AB 2343.
IV. AB 2343 forces cat owners to bear the concessions necessary to “work a deal” such that the
“block grant funding program” can go forward.
AB 2343 provides a preferential holding period of 72 hours for dog owners to claim their companion
animals who enter the shelter without identification. AB 2343 provides for no preferential holding
period at all for cat owners whose cats enter the shelter without identification. The tragic irony is that
cat owners need time to reclaim even more than dog owners do. Cat owners who genuinely care about
their cats will often give their wandering cats more time to return home than would dog owners. This
disparate treatment of cat owners versus dog owners is unjustified and reflects a bias that cats are less
valuable to their owners than are dogs. Among the taxpayers who support animal shelters are cat
owners, who expect the same ability to reclaim their cats as dog owners. Indeed, the public expects
shelters to serve as safe havens for their lost pets of all kinds and not as funnels for for-profit entities or
V. AB 2343 harms all shelter animals by subjecting them to mandatory release to for-profit entities.
AB 2343 states that shelters in grant-receiving jurisdictions must release any and all sheltered animals
slated for euthanasia if requested before euthanasia by either a for-profit entity or a nonprofit IRC sec. 501(c)(3) animal rescue and adoption organization. Thus, AB 2343 makes all sheltered animals
vulnerable to anyone who states authority under the statute as a for-profit entity to take animals slated
for euthanasia. There is no limitation whatsoever on the nature of the for-profit enterprise. They can be
registered or not registered, harmful to animals or beneficial to animals, intending to resell the animals
to those who would harm them, and totally disrespectful of the animals they receive by demand from
shelters. Since when do taxpayers pay for the maintenance of animal shelters so that those shelters can
supply animals for whatever purpose to for-profits?
VI. AB 2343 will result in considerable confusion.
Currently there is one set of statewide laws that apply equally to private and public shelters throughout
California, albeit with some suspended provisions. If AB 2343 is enacted there will be confusion about
whether a particular jurisdiction has funding and the obligation to comply. Without funding there is no
obligation to comply with holding period requirements at all. Right next to a jurisdiction that has
funding and holding period requirements there can be a jurisdiction that has no funding and, therefore,
no requirement to comply and no holding period requirements.
If AB 2343 is amended to establish its provisions as parallel but not replacing current law, even more
confusion would exist because some state laws will be in effect in some jurisdictions and the new
provisions of AB 2343 would be in place in only some jurisdictions. All of this turns on a relatively
small grant that will most likely be used up by administration costs and limited to one year in duration,
leaving behind a confusing array of apparently applicable laws that really aren’t applicable because
they are not funded into the future. This is not an improvement over the current unfunded state
In sum, AB 2343 does not provide benefit to animals, the public, or to local government sufficient to
offset the tremendous costs of administration, confusion, and litigation that will surely result. The harm
of eliminating statewide holding periods is particularly severe.
I hope that you will consider the views expressed in this letter. If further clarification is necessary, I
can be reached through any means provided at the head of this letter.
Taimie L. Bryant
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