Claim: The Bill Will Put a Burden on Non-Profit Rescue Organizations
Fact: In order to defeat the bill, opponents are claiming that the bill will require rescue organizations to take animals, forcing them to spend money they do not have, and inundating them with animals they do not want. The bill does none of these things. In fact, doing so would be illegal and unconstitutional. The bill simply says that if non-profit rescue organizations choose to save the lives of animals in shelters, shelters cannot kill the very animals they are offering to save. A statewide survey of rescue groups in Florida found that 63% of them have been turned away by shelters after offering to save animals and those shelters then turned around and killed the very animals they offered to save. Taxpayers should not have their money spent on killing animals when private non-profit organizations are ready, willing, and able to save them. That is bad fiscal policy and it is inhumane. Moreover, these false claims show how desperate some shelters are to find something wrong with the bill in that they are willing to thoroughly misrepresent its provisions.
Claim: The Bill Imposes Unreasonable Burdens on Cash-Strapped Shelters
Fact: The bill reduces burdens on shelters. It reduces the number of animals they kill. It reduces costs for killing. It brings in revenue, through adoption fees. And it transfers costs from taxpayers to private organizations, funded through philanthropic dollars. For example, rather than kill an animal and dispose of his body, which costs money, the rescue organizations would take custody of the animal and find him a home, saving the municipality those costs. In addition, the bill specifically allows the shelter to charge the rescue group a fee, up to the standard adoption fee. In the end, shelters not only save money, they actually can raise additional revenue. An analysis of a similar provision of California law found cost-savings of over $400,000 to a municipality which sent animals to rescue groups rather than killed them: http://bit.ly/gZynkG. A separate analysis found that the number of animals saved, rather than killed, jumped by roughly 4,000 per year in just one of 58 California counties: http://bit.ly/fupNEK.
Claim: The Bill Does Not Address the Cause of Pet Overpopulation
Fact: This argument is a distraction. This bill is a simple, commonsense, fiscally prudent solution to the problem of shelters killing animals when those animals have an immediate place to go. And it does so by saving taxpayers the costs associated with killing animals and disposing of their bodies. It is disingenuous for shelters to decry the killing of animals but to be allowed to continue killing when rescue organizations are willing to save the lives of specific animals. Unfortunately, this is endemic to animal shelters in Florida. A statewide survey of rescue groups in Florida found that 63% of them have been turned away by shelters after offering to save animals and those shelters then turned around and killed the very animals they offered to save. While the bill will not necessarily end killing, that is not the goal of the bill. It’s goal is to take an important step in that direction in a revenue-neutral manner. The state can tackle problems one at a time. This bill does just that. It will save lives, save money, and mandate public-private partnerships. And that is
good for animals, good for taxpayers, and part of good governance.
Claim: The Bill Will Force Shelters to Release Animals to Hoarders or Other Compromised Situations
Fact: The bill specifically excludes organizations with a volunteer, staff member, director, and/or officer with a conviction for animal neglect, cruelty, and/or dog fighting, and suspends the organization while such charges are pending. In addition, it requires the rescue organization to be a not-for-profit organization, recognized under Internal Revenue Code Section 501(c)(3). As a result, they must register with the federal government, and with several Florida agencies, including the Department of State, Department of Revenue, and
Department of Agriculture Division of Consumer Services, providing a number of oversight and checks and balances. In fact, a statewide survey found that 100% of survey respondents who rescued animals but were not 501(c)(3) organizations would become so if this law passes, effectively increasing oversight of rescue organizations in Florida. Moreover, the bill specifically allows shelters to charge an adoption fee for animals they send to rescue organizations, which would further protect animals from being placed in hoarding situations. Finally, nothing in the bill requires shelters to work with specific rescue groups. They are free to work with other rescue organizations if they choose and they are also free to adopt the animals themselves. What they cannot do, what they should not be permitted to do, is to kill animals when those animals have a place to go.
Claim: The Bill Will Cause More Problems than it Solves
Fact: The opposition is simply fear mongering, hoping to confuse legislators about the intent and scope of the bill. They have misrepresented its tenets and are hoping to frighten legislators into doing nothing. The bill is based on a law in California which was passed in 1998 with overwhelming bipartisan support (96-12). The same arguments made against the Florida bill were made in California, but 11 years of experience have shown that the alleged “concerns” did not materialize. In fact, an analysis of the bill found it to be an unqualified success, saving both lives and money, and creating a robust non-profit sector in partnership with shelters across the state: http://bit.ly/fupNEK. Similar arguments in opposition were also unimpressive to Delaware legislators who passed a similar provision unanimously in 2010, and where lifesaving in that state has also increased as a result of it.