Animal Adoption mandate

The below is from the Legislative Analyst's Office. She, Elizabeth Hill, is considered the voice of reason. She has determined that holding pets longer does not increase their adoption rate, and therefore the state should essentially repeal Hayden so as to not pay these fees. She does not provide one shred of evidence that holding the animals an extra three days does not increase adoptions or rescues. She just says it is so.

The wording below is exactly the same as Schwarzenegger used 2-1/2 years ago when last they tried to end the mandatory fee reimbursements; only the dollar amounts have changed.

Listen to Elizebeth's nonsensical logic. Also notice that she says if the state decides to end these fees, they should substitute a fee paid to each shelter for every animal they actually adopt.

She does not even mention as important that the Hayden Law gives owners an extra few days to get lost or stolen animals back. The link to the LAO is below.

Chapter 752, Statutes of 1998 (SB 1785, Hayden), changed state policy regarding shelter care for stray and abandoned animals. Most notably, Chapter 752 (1) declared, “It is the policy of the state that no adoptable animal should be euthanized if it can be adopted into a suitable home,” and (2) lengthened the time (generally from three days to six) that shelters must care for animals before euthanizing them.

When the Legislature considered Chapter 752, it was advised that the measure would not impose a state–reimbursable mandate because shelters would receive increased adoption and owner–redemption fees. These fees would offset shelter costs to care for the animals for the longer period.

Shortly after Chapter 752 was enacted, local governments filed a mandate test claim with the commission. The commission found that the cost of caring for the animals that were adopted or reunited with their owners was not a reimbursable mandate (because owners paid fees to offset these costs). In the case of animals that were euthanized, however, the commission found that local government shelters’ cost to care for them for three additional days was a state–reimbursable mandate.

Whenever the commission finds a mandate, its next task is to adopt a methodology that local governments use to file reimbursement claims. While mandate law gives the commission flexibility as to the form this methodology takes, the focus must be on reimbursing the specific elements of legislation found to be a mandate, not promoting the legislation’s policy objectives.

In the case of this mandate, the commission created a methodology that reimburses local government shelters for (1) their increased cost of caring for the animals that they euthanize and (2) certain minor costs, such as maintaining lost and found lists. In 2008–09, local governments are expected to claim $23 million for this mandate. Almost all of the cost is for the food, medical care, and space needed to keep animals alive for the longer period. Private shelters are not eligible for the mandate reimbursements.


Given the state’s interest in promoting animal adoptions, we examined whether Chapter 752’s longer holding period results in increased adoptions—either directly due to its requirement or indirectly through the mandate funding provided. Our review indicates that there is little reason to believe it does.

Direct Impact of Longer Holding Period. Throughout the United States, there are many more animals in shelters than there are households looking to adopt pets. Partly because of this imbalance between supply and demand, roughly one–half of the animals entering shelters are euthanized. Chapter 752’s requirement that shelters keep animals alive longer increases the supply of animals in shelters on any specific day. It also gives animal rescue organizations more time to transfer animals to their facilities. This increased supply of adoptable animals (at shelters and rescue facilities) can give households greater choice in selecting a pet to adopt. It does not necessarily mean, however, that more households adopt pets. That is, the mandate does nothing to increase the demand for these animals.

Indirect Effect of Shelter Funding. To increase the number of pets adopted, more households need to adopt pets rather than buy them from stores or breeders. Especially over the last decade, as concern regarding the treatment of animals has grown, many shelters, animal rescue, and humane groups have taken significant steps towards promoting animal adoption. Does the funding provided under Chapter 752 support these efforts? Our review finds no link between the funding provided under Chapter 752 and programs that encourage animal adoption. Specifically, under the mandate’s reimbursement methodology, shelters do not get more state funds if more households adopt animals. Rather, shelters that euthanize the most animals receive the most state funds. Shelters that are the most successful in promoting adoptions receive the least state funds.

This gap between Chapter 752’s policy goals and mandate reimbursements stems from the requirements of mandate law. Specifically, the California Constitution requires the state to reimburse local governments for the cost of required activities—without regard to local success in achieving the desired outcomes


Because the goals of Chapter 752 are not suited to implementation as a mandate, we recommend the Legislature repeal the elements of Chapter 752 that impose a mandate. We further recommend that the state pay the outstanding costs for this mandate over time. (Reduce Item 8885–295–0001 by $13 million and increase Item 8885–299–0001 by $3 million.)

Given mandate law’s focus on reimbursing local governments for activities, rather than the achievement of policy objectives, few state objectives are suited to implementation as mandates. This is particularly true when the state seeks to encourage local governments to make significant policy changes, such as in the case of Chapter 752.

Because there is no evidence that the longer holding period (or its mandate funding) furthers state policy objectives, we recommend the Legislature repeal this requirement of Chapter 752 (along with the other minor elements of the measure found to be a mandate). This action would eliminate the state’s obligation to reimburse local governments for their increased costs of caring for animals that they euthanize. If the Legislature wishes to give shelters more incentives to promote animal adoptions, we recommend the Legislature try a different approach. For example, the Legislature could pilot an incentive program that gives funding to those shelters that increase the number of animals successfully adopted. (As a point of reference, based on information provided by the Department of Public Health, the state could give local government shelters $30 for every dog or cat adopted for a total annual cost of about $12 million.)

Reduce Funding in Budget for Mandates by $13 Million. The Constitution generally requires the Legislature to (1) pay all outstanding bills for a mandate in the upcoming budget or (2) suspend or repeal the mandate. Repealing the Animal Adoption mandate, therefore, would allow the Legislature to remove funds for it from the budget bill. While the funds for this mandate were not identified specifically in the budget bill, we estimate it to be about $13 million. (This amount represents the outstanding costs for this mandate from 2005–06 and 2006–07.)

Increase Funding in Budget for Prior–Year Mandate Claims by $3 Million. Repealing the Animal Adoption mandate would not eliminate the state’s long–term obligation to pay outstanding costs incurred before the repeal. If the Legislature repealed this mandate at the time it enacted the 2008–09 budget, we estimate that it would owe local governments about $36 million for 2005–06 through 2007–08 activities. (That is, $13 million for outstanding 2005–06 and 2006–07 claims and $23 million for 2007–08.) The Constitution does not specify a deadline for payment of these outstanding mandate costs. Given the state’s fiscal condition, we recommend the Legislature include resources for outstanding 2005–06 through 2007–08 Animal Adoption claims with the state’s payment for the mandate backlog. Under this approach, local governments would be reimbursed for their Animal Adoption mandate costs, with interest, over the next 13 years, at a rate of about $3 million per year.

Summary of Budget Actions. We recommend the Legislature:

  • Repeal the requirements of Chapter 752 found to be a state–reimbursable mandate.
  • Reduce by $13 million the funds provided in the budget bill for this mandate to pay 2005–06 and 2006–07 mandate claims.
  • Increase by $3 million the funds provided in the budget to make a payment for the mandate backlog and prior year Animal Adoption claims.


Anonymous said...

It would be interesting to know if holding animals longer gets more adopted. I kind of doubt it. This is supply and demand. Rescue groups are generally always operating at peak capacity. As soon as they adopt one out they go get another. There are always more dogs than they can rescue. If one is gone, they'll take another, even breed rescuers.

Same with the public. They don't know how long an animal has been held when they go to the shelter. They go and look for a dog to adopt, period. If a shelter got in an adoptable dog that wasn't adopted in three days, they'd probably keep it a few extra days, especially if a weekend was coming up. They don't have to follow the Hayden Act.

It would be difficult to see if holding them longer gets them adopted in LA City. They started holding them longer as they new shelters opened. Looking at the stats adoptions increased as soon as they opened the new prettier shelters. As each opened, adoptions in that shelter went up.

This whole Hayden act thing won't affect LA City shelters. They hold longer than legally mandated as it is. It won't change their holding periods. It would only change it for LA County whom I believe euth's as soon as the minimum holding period is up. I could be wrong about that as I think they have held animals for a few weeks before.

I also don't think it affects possibly owned animals, i.e. animals with a chip, tags, collar, been obviously cared for. They keep these longer anyway. This whole thing may be a moot point in the end.

Anonymous said...

As one who lost an animal once (got out the window), I think it is imperative that they be held longer.
For the first few days I posted signs. I didn't even think of going to the shelter. I realize that was a mistake, but in the heat of the moment, I thought scanning the neighborhood was the first thing I should do.
How many pet owners are like me? How many do not think to check the shelter when looking for a lost family member until a few days to a week into their search? Those extra days can make the difference between life and death.

Anonymous said...

I think that the holding period isn't all that horrific. When animals are held for months, that isn't the holding period. Yet, the shelter blames it on the Hayden law. The legal holding period isn't even longer than a week. So, they have no business blaming the law on that.