ASPCA Urges Gov. Jerry Brown to Sign Bills to Protect Animals in Peril

California lawmakers pass legislation to assist animals in disasters and victims of cruelty
September 4, 2015

NEW YORK— The ASPCA® (American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals) urges Gov. Jerry Brown to sign two critical bills, overwhelmingly passed by California lawmakers, that will aid animals endangered by disasters as well as animals seized in large-scale cruelty cases.

AB 317 will ensure temporary animal shelters can be deployed by emergency responders quickly and effectively during disasters; AB 316 authorizes the creation of temporary shelters to assist with care and sheltering of animals involved in law enforcement investigations. Sponsored by Assemblyman Brian Maienschein (R-San Diego), both bills have been sent to Governor Brown, who has 30 days to sign them into law.

“California is no stranger to disaster, as evidenced by the many wildfires currently burning across our state,” said Kevin O’Neill, senior state director of ASPCA Government Relations for the Western region. “As September is National Preparedness Month, the passage of these bills could not have come at a better time, and we thank Assemblyman Maienschein for his steadfast support and leadership on these bills to improve California’s emergency response capabilities.”

This year marks the 10th anniversary of Hurricane Katrina, one of the deadliest and costliest disasters in our nation’s history. That tragedy served as a national turning point for the treatment of pets in disasters. But while major strides have been made since then, AB 317 will go further to recognize the critical role temporary animal shelters play during disasters by exempting these shelters from the permit requirement in the event of an emergency. It still requires these shelters to conform to all standards of care expected of permanent veterinary facilities.

Also approved by the legislature was AB 316, which will assist local animal care agencies across the state who step up to care for animals seized during large-scale cruelty investigations. Animal cruelty investigations dealing with issues such as animal fighting, hoarding and puppy mills can result in large numbers of animals suddenly needing intensive veterinary care and sheltering. Since most animal care agencies in California operate at or near full capacity during the best of times, these temporary shelters are critically important.

“The ASPCA is often called upon to assist law enforcement and local agencies during large-scale cruelty seizures and disasters,” said O’Neill. “The ability to respond quickly and effectively under these circumstances is critical to saving lives and we are grateful to California lawmakers for their support on these bills.”

The ASPCA’s Field Investigations and Response (FIR) team frequently responds to hurricanes and other natural disasters around the country, including Hurricane Sandy in 2012, the Joplin tornado in 2011, Hurricanes Gustav and Ike in 2008, and Hurricanes Katrina and Rita in 2005. This team is also called upon by state and municipal governments and other animal welfare partners to lend expertise during large-scale animal rescue operations.

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