Written by Jeff Mackey
Lawmakers who are considering legislation based on the
philosophy of the bogus "no-kill" movement should look closely at the
disastrous results of California's Hayden Law, as Phyllis M. Daugherty details
in the first of a series of
articles for Opposing Views about limited-admission ("no-kill")
Dangerous overcrowding is a
common problem at no-kill shelters.
As Daugherty makes clear, the Hayden Law was put together by
lawyers and aides with no experience running animal shelters. And it shows: The
bill did nothing to curb breeding (the real cause of the animal overpopulation crisis);
it took away shelters' ability to make the critical decisions needed to keep
the animals healthy by controlling the spread of contagious diseases and to give
the most adoptable animals the best chance of finding a home through necessary
means, including euthanasia of less adoptable animals.
the Hayden Law, shelters couldn't euthanize the animals they took in unless the
animals were already to the point of death—even if that meant enduring prolonged
suffering from diseases or injuries
that made them unlikely prospects for adoption. Fortunately, this constraint
was recently suspended but not before wreaking havoc on animals, shelters (along
with their staffers and volunteers), and state budgets.
animal shelters continue to be required to surrender any animal scheduled for
euthanasia—no matter how aggressive or otherwise unadoptable—to any group claiming
to be a "rescue" organization upon request, which forces them to
continue to house the animals until they are claimed (up to two weeks later) and
puts adoptive guardians at risk from animals with a known tendency toward aggressive
behavior. Daugherty describes how 20 percent of one animal shelter was occupied
by pit bulls awaiting pickup by one such organization, leaving less room for animals
who might have had a good chance of adoption but instead were euthanized
because of a lack of space.
It is tragic and ironic that the law cheered on by misguided "no-kill"
advocates like Nathan
ended up costing animals their lives; Daugherty reports that the North County Times, in an article titled, "Too Close for
Comfort: New State Law Is Killing Animals," explained how the law was "increasing
the number of animals destroyed and reducing adoptions …"
While this is sad, it isn't really surprising. As Daugherty
notes, "no-kill" is a misnomer, since the refusal of
limited-admission shelters to accept the responsibility of euthanasia means
that they fill up quickly, leaving the turned-away animals to be taken to
open-admission shelters (merely shifting the burden of euthanasia) or, worse, to
be simply abandoned to face disease, traffic, starvation, predators, and other
Limited-admission shelters also tend to attract animal
hoarders who take in far more animals than they can possibly care for. PETA’s
undercover investigation of South Carolina's now-defunct Sacred Vision Animal Sanctuary—which was
really just a front for a hoarder—produced
evidence that finally prompted authorities to rescue hundreds of caged cats who
had been suffering through a living nightmare of constant filth, disease, and
We all want to see the number of euthanized animals decreased,
but the Hayden Law debacle shows that this goal can't be accomplished just by
making it nearly impossible for shelters to use euthanasia to address the
current crisis. As one former shelter volunteer explained after visiting a shelter overburdened because
of the restrictions imposed by the Hayden Law, "As I passed the kennels,
each crammed with too many dogs and puppies, many of them sick or diseased, I
was reminded again that euthanasia is not the worst thing that can happen."
To become a truly no-kill nation, we must first become a
no-birth nation by mandating
spaying and neutering of dogs and cats
to stop the flow of unwanted litters into our shelters. If you are concerned
about euthanasia, you'll do far more good by adopting a dog from an
open-admission shelter or sponsoring
a spay/neuter procedure for a cat than by supporting a limited-admission
California Gov. Jerry Brown has announced plans to completely repeal the ill-advised
Hayden Law, and let's hope he succeeds—for the animals' sake.
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Almost all of us grew up eating meat, wearing leather, and going to circuses and zoos. We never considered the impact of these actions on the animals involved. For whatever reason, you are now asking the question: Why should animals have rights? Read more.