Photo of Bowie from Los Angeles County Animal Care and Control
Last week, California Assemblymember Bill Essayli introduced Bowie’s Law, Assembly Bill 595, which aims to save pets from euthanasia by requiring 72-hour public notice before a pet can be euthanized. Unfathomably, no such requirement currently exists.
“Some shelters give notice, some give very little notice, and some give no notice at all. Bowie’s Law will end the inconsistency. Our goal is to make every shelter in the state a no kill shelter,” Assemblyman Essayli said in a statement sent to WAN, noting that every adoptable pet deserves the chance to find a forever family and home. “We understand it’s a complex issue and it’s going to take multiple strategies and partnerships, but Bowie’s Law will be a critical first step.”
The bill is named after Bowie, an innocent three-month-old puppy who was “mistakenly” euthanized in December of last year at Baldwin Park Animal Care Center in Los Angeles. This, despite the fact that Underdog Heroes Rescue was trying to adopt him from the shelter.
“Bowie’s Law, would have prevented this tragedy from occurring,” stated Assemblyman Essayli.
This is no doubt one of the worst consequences of the abhorrent overcrowding at local animal shelters. Between July 1st and November 30th of last year, an estimated 3,741 animals in the care of the Department of Animal Care and Control (DACC) were euthanized, out of 12,547 animals in the agency’s possession. That equates to roughly a 30% kill rate.
As per Bowie’s Law:
“Existing law declares that it is the policy of the state that no adoptable animal should be euthanized if it can be adopted into a suitable home. Existing law also declares that it is the policy of the state that no treatable animal should be euthanized. Existing law provides that a violation of the Food and Agricultural Code is a misdemeanor, unless a different penalty is expressly provided. This bill would require all animal shelters, as defined, to provide public notice on their website at least 72 hours before euthanizing an adoptable dog or cat, as defined, and include the date that an adoptable dog or cat is scheduled to be euthanized, as provided.
“By creating new requirements regarding this public notice, the violation of which would be a crime, the bill would constitute a state-mandated local program. The bill would also require the Department of Food and Agriculture to conduct a study on the overcrowding of California’s animal shelters, the ways in which the state might address animal shelter overcrowding, and the feasibility of a statewide database of adoptable dogs or cats, as specified.”
The bill currently awaits referral by the Assembly Rules Committee, and will receive its policy committee hearing in the coming months.
Tragically, earlier this month, a two-year-old dog was “mistakenly” euthanized after being placed on a 10-day bite quarantine in North Carolina.
Pitt County Animal Services responded with a “so-called” apology for the unforgivable incident which was blamed on “human error.” The dog was supposed to be returned to her owner.
“We regret our mistake and through improved procedures, aim to provide the best care for all animals in our custody,” stated a post on Pitt County Animal Services’ Facebook page.
That is unacceptable. It is the shelter’s responsibility to properly care for the animals at their facility and ensure that they will be adopted into suitable, loving homes, not euthanized based on “human error.” So much has to change.