A state assemblyman is attempting to persuade lawmakers in Sacramento that changing the language used when addressing animal control issues might go a long way towards changing attitudes.
Assemblyman Nathan Fletcher R-San Diego, has teamed up with the humane society in San Diego and the Humane Society of the United States, to write the legislation, AB 1279, that will change all references of the pound in California code to animal shelter.
Sonoma County has seven animal shelters where stray or surrendered animals are cared for. The organizations attempt to place them up for adoption. Not a one of them is called “the pound.” Even the traditional “pound” in Sonoma County, is called Sonoma County Animal Care and Control. But it’s not the public name of the facilities at issue, it’s the state code that details how the shelters should be operated.
The legislation also requires that ordinances use words that instead of “destroying” animals they are instead “humanely euthanized.”
Pound and destroy, Fletcher has been quoted as saying, are relics from the days when shelters had the image of a dumping ground for dangerous animals.
“That era is gone,” said Fletcher, who has two dogs. “The way we view animals-in-need has changed.
Fletcher developed the proposal for the legislation from Dr. Mark Goldstein, a veterinarian and president of the San Diego Humane Society and SPCA.
“When we say that we care about animals as a society, and then there’s a state law that talks about ‘destroying’ them?” he said. “We ‘destroy’ inanimate objects, we don’t destroy life.”
Goldstein feels the same way about the word “pound,” likening it to a jail, and saying it carries an implication of something being done on the cheap.
“Changing the wording does not fundamentally change the law. But it does reflect where we are as a society,” said Jennifer Fearing, who represents the Humane Society of the United States in Sacramento.
AB 1279 comes up for its first hearing later this month.
(The Associated Press contributed to this report.)