Newsom Proposes $50M to Make California a 'No Kill' State for Shelter Animals

1 min
If Newsom's budget item is approved, a UC Davis program would work with local animal shelters over the next five years to provide needed spay and neuter services, support pet owners struggling to care for their animals and help ensure that facilities that serve animals are safe and physically sound. (Getty Images)

Gov. Gavin Newsom wants to make California a "no kill" state for shelter animals — and experts say a new budget proposal has the teeth to save the thousands of animals euthanized in the state every year.

"California has had a policy for 20 years that it’s the preference of the state that no healthy, treatable animal be euthanized. So that part is not new," said Dr. Kate Hurley, director of the Koret Shelter Medicine Program at UC Davis. "But what is new and just incredible is the governor investing state funds to make that a reality."

The Koret Program has been working on animal welfare issues for almost two decades. In presenting his new state budget proposal on Friday, Newsom said he wants a one-time $50 million general fund allocation to help Koret develop a grant program for animal shelters statewide.

Hurley said an estimated 100,000 animals are euthanized each year in California. But, she said, since the state committed to becoming "no kill," there has been a considerable drop in euthanizations.

"In 1998, it was estimated that more than half a million animals were euthanized. So we made some headway. We really have," she said.

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If the budget item is approved, the intent is for the Koret Program to work with local shelters over the next five years to provide needed spay and neuter services. The program would also support pet owners struggling to care for their animals and help ensure that facilities that serve animals are safe and physically sound, among other efforts.

Hurley pointed out that, as in so many other aspects of life in California, the euthanization issue reflects resource gaps across the state.

“What underpins euthanization at shelters ... is when people and communities are struggling to take care of their animals and to take care of themselves and each other,” Hurley said. “And so that’s what has made it so difficult, is that in the very communities where the need is greatest, there's also the fewest resources.”

In 2012, Los Angeles committed to becoming a "no kill" city, and in 2017, Mayor Eric Garcetti announced the city had reached its goal of 90% of cats and dogs that entered shelters leaving them alive.

Hurley said this proposal shows that Newsom is ready to extend his commitment to the idea of a California for all to pets as well as humans. “I think it really matters how we treat the animals that have the least in the communities that have the least in this state that has so much," she said.

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