California bill pushes counties to provide pet-friendly shelters for those forced to evacuate

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Good morning and welcome to the A.M. Alert!


In the hurly-burly of high-profile last-minute bills passed last week, it was easy to miss some other measures that could touch on Californians’ lives in a big way. One was AB 781, by Assemblyman Brian Maienschein, D-San Diego.

Unfortunately, as many Californians are discovering, climate change-fueled disasters are only getting worse in the state.

Wildfires. Floods. Mudslides.

And that toll isn’t just on humans. Our pets likewise suffer during such catastrophes.

AB 781 is intended to provide a lifeline to both Californians and their cherished pets, by requiring local governments to ensure that there are pet-friendly shelters available in the event that disaster strikes.

The bill was championed by the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, and passed out of the Assembly and Senate with unanimous support. It now goes to Gov. Gavin Newsom — an avowed animal lover — for a signature. Newsom has until Oct. 14 to sign or veto the bill.

Signing will likely prove popular with Californians. In a recent survey commissioned by the ASPCA, more than three quarters (76%) said that they would take their pet with them if they had to evacuate, while more than half (51%) said they would only evacuate if they could take their pets with them.

Nearly a quarter (24%) of respondents who have had to evacuate said that they were forced to abandon their pet while doing so, with 25% saying they did not have access to pet-friendly accommodations.


Speaking of animals, an Assembly concurrent resolution calling for more funding for spay and neuter services for dogs and cats never made it to the Senate floor for a vote before lawmakers finished their business last week.

ACR 86, by Assemblyman Ash Kalra, D-San Jose, not only called for the state and local governments to spend more money on animal sterilization to prevent proliferation of strays, but also asked Veterinary Medical Board to encourage out-of-state veterinarians to get licensed in California to help address the state’s critical vet shortage. Finally, it called on the state to enact a public relations campaign to encourage people to adopt more shelter pets.

The resolution passed unanimously in every committee where it was heard, as well as on the Assembly floor. But the bill’s late hearing in the Senate Business, Professions and Economic Development Committee — and some Republican heartburn over language mentioning breeders — kept it from receiving a vote before Senate leadership declared there would be no ACRs voted on in the last two weeks of session, according to resolution sponsor Social Compassion in Legislation.

“In essence, ACR 86 was held hostage by leadership,” the organization said in a statement.

Reach for comment, the office of Senate President pro Tem Toni Atkins, D-San Diego, said in an email, “The Senate had notified all legislative offices that there would be no resolutions heard the last two week of session so we could beat the deadlines and pass legislations. It was on our consent calendar prior to the deadline on resos, but the author chose to pull it off consent.”

As it stands, ACR 86 won’t be taken up again until 2024, when the Legislature reconvenes for the second half of the session.


“Lies may sound sensational. They may get repeated by the media. But, with true transparency, the truth will come out. Thank God.”

- Lorena Gonzalez Fletcher, head of the California Labor Federation and former assemblywoman, via Threads. Her post may be a reference to the recent court filing by her husband, former San Diego County Supervisor Nathan Fletcher, that asked a judge to remove portions of a lawsuit against him by a former municipal employee that allege sexual assault.

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