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No mercy at southern California animal shelter

A near emergency at high kill shelter...
A near emergency at high kill shelter...
Gary London

“Killing spree” cited by rescuers as Devore shelter plans to kill 22 cats.

Rescuers were scrambling, and indivuals or rescue organizations interested in saving a life or the lives of nearly two dozen cats on Monday were being urged to act quickly. Controversial Devore shelter, in the San Bernardino area of southern California had planned to execute 22 cats on Monday, and rescuers familiar with this facility's operation were blaming the shelter's overseer, Doug Smith for overzealous actions in light of the fact that the shelter wasn't overcrowded Monday morning.

Devore shelter, located just north of San Bernardino, California, has long been at the focus of a controversial spotlight, due to what many call questionable policies regarding euthanasia of perfectly healthy and adoptable animals.

The facility is located in what is believed to be the largest county in the continental U.S., and has long been in a state of financial disadvantage. The nearby city of San Bernardino has been in an ongoing state of bankruptcy for at least a year, and city services have been cut drastically. It is widely felt within the southern California rescue community that animal welfare and care is far to low on the county's set of priorities.

Protests have taken place at this facility and nearby San Bernardino City Shelter, and comments posted on Facebook by animal supporters and others regularly complain about and condemn what is often seen as unnecessary and premature euthanasia of animals which have only been at these facilities for as little as one day, or in some instances, just hours.

California's Hayden's law was instituted to protect companion animals from premature or unjustified euthanasia.

The Hayden Act, introduced by California Senator Tom Hayden on February 18, 1998, amended California Law as it applies to companion animals:

Under the then existing law, dogs or cats impounded by public pounds or shelters could be killed after 72 hours of being impounded. The Hayden Act, effective July 1, 1999, expanded this minimum impound time to 4 or 6 business days, as specified, and required that the animal be released to a nonprofit animal rescue or adoption organization in certain circumstances, subject to specified exceptions.

There are no exact figures, but there have been instances in the past where practices at both Devore and San Bernardino City Shelter were called into question regarding possible violation of the Hayden Act.

Persons interested in rescuing/fostering/adopting animals from these shelters are urged to contact rescue organizations, or go directly to the shelter facilities. Kitty Devore Rescue is one such organization. Their website can be found at

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