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Legislating a Solution to Animal Shelter Euthanasia: A Case Study of California's Controversial SB 1785

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On September 22, 1998, California Governor Pete Wilson signed Senate Bill 1785 into law, dramatically affecting the entire Califomia animal sheltering community. Dubbed the "Hayden law" by the animal protection community after the bill's sponsor, it represents the state of Califomia's attempt to legislate a solution to both the companion animal overpopulation problem and the friction between the agencies trying to end it.The persistence of the bill's primary supporters, a Los Angeles veterinarian and a UCLA law school professor and the overall lack of opposition to it helped SB 1785 sail through the California legislature. Because of the scope of the bill and the immense cost of implementation, its passage shocked many in the sheltering community.This case study highlights the consequences of legislation that was crafted based on worse case scenarios and over which there was little collaborative effort. It concludes with suggestions that might be useful to other states contemplating similar such legislation.


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