Shelter Guinea Pigs Face Immediate Death
Under Brown’s new bill, part of Hayden’s Law that currently requires the state to pay for shelter expenses like food and care for homeless pets would be taken away. Back in July 1, 2001, Hayden’s Law was passed giving the public longer to find their lost animals before they were eligible to be euthanized. Dogs and cats were given four to six business days not including the day of impoundment, however small animals such as guinea pigs, rabbits, hamsters, pot-bellied pigs, birds, lizards, snakes, turtles and other pets were given only three.
Former State Senator Tom Hayden posted a video on YouTube appealing to Governor Jerry Brown to keep the law he wrote in 1998 in place to protect homeless pets. “Tell Governor Brown innocent animals should not have to die to clean up California’s mess,” Hayden’s YouTube video states.
Guinea pigs in shelters have a hard enough time. Since they are considered exotic pets, they usually require specialized health care and shelters are rarely equipped with the resources to properly take care of them. Often guinea pigs die before receiving any proper medical care and this includes pregnant guinea pigs that die during birth. This is why so many rescues aim to remove guinea pigs, especially expecting mothers, from shelters as quickly as possible. Without Hayden’s law in place to keep them for three days, the small animals could be killed immediately.
The number of guinea pigs euthanized in shelters is unknown but adoption rates for guinea pigs in shelters is low due to lack of education and advertising. Shelters in the US currently care for 6-8 million dogs and cats and approximately 3-4 million are euthanized according to the Humane Society of the US. Unfortunately, there is no central data reporting agency for animal shelters so these numbers are estimates.
According to California’s official analyst, a 2008 study found holding animals for additional time did not improve their chances of finding a forever home. The only benefit was giving adopters more pets to choose from. Supervisors in Los Angeles County argued this point by saying over a thousand lost pets were successfully returned to owners after the third day in 2011.
Animal advocates with the Humane Society of the United States, the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA) and Best Friends Animal Society have active petitions to block the progression of the budget proposal. They would like legislators to realize death costs more than life because euthanasia has to be done by qualified veterinarians and the animals must be properly disposed. A joint press release from all three organizations includes comments from Julie Johnson, Executive Director of the Bakersfield SPCA. She states, “The repeal of these laws will only lead to more euthanasia and force animal welfare back to the dark ages. Owners who lose a pet on Friday will face the reality that their pet may be dead on Monday.”
Legislation is only part of the solution. Guinea Pig Today works with animal rescues to reduce the number of homeless guinea pigs through the promotion of responsible pet ownership, advertising for rescues and shelters, and fundraising. Won’t you help guinea pigs and other animals by spreading the word and signing the petition?
Petition to stop Gov. Jerry Brown’s Budget Proposal
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