The UCLA Animal Law Program will be hosting its first event next week, a workshop for animal rescuers titled Saving Animals’ Lives Through Shelter Rescue. To celebrate, we will focus our next posts to the UCLA Paw Review on proposed California legislation that affects companion animals.
The first bill on which we would like to focus is a bill introduced on February 2, 2011 by the California Assembly’s Committee on Agriculture: AB 222, which is simply titled “Food and Agriculture: Omnibus Bill.” The bill, as amended, would amend Sections 31108 (pertaining to the holding period for stray dogs) and 31752 (pertaining to the holding period for stray cats) of the Food & Agricultural Code to define the term “business day,” for purposes of California’s shelter laws, as any day that a public or private shelter is open to the public for at least 4 hours, excluding state holidays. Existing law requires that the holding period for a stray dog or a stray cat impounded in a shelter be six business days, not including the day of impoundment, with exceptions, as provided.
The impetus for amendment was an opinion issued by the California Court of Appeal in Veena Purigoy v. Glenn Howell [PDF], which held that “Saturday is not a ‘business day’ within the meaning of section 31108(a).” The bill appears to have been sponsored by the State Humane Association of California. The Assembly Analysis of the bill states that, “The State Humane Association of California has raised this as a clarifying change since most private, and many public, shelters are open on Saturdays to provide the public more opportunity to rescue and/or adopt animals. Many are not open every day of a typical business week, that is Monday to Friday, for that purpose. The Association states that this change will provide the shelters the clarification needed so they don’t need to add additional days to their holding period and to meet the court’s interpretation of current statute.”
What do you think, readers? Should the legislature define “business day” to mean something other the its usual and ordinary meaning? Defining Saturday as a “business day” effectively shortens the holding period for dogs and cats; do you think that is consistent with the legislative intent of the Hayden Act to lengthen the holding period for animals taken into California’s animal shelters in order to increase opportunities for adoption and redemption? If you disagree with this change of California shelter law, please contact your representatives. For guidance on how to do so, and how to get started with legislative advocacy, please see the UCLA School of Law LibGuide entitled California Legislative Advocacy.