Animal Rescue Act

If only these walls could talk... or bark... or meow...they'd tell two very different stories. One of lonely dogs and cats finding loving families, and the other of far too many of them being put down.

A new bill would mandate that animal control shelters reach out to local rescue groups like the humane society 24 hours before they plan to euthanize a healthy pet.

The goal is to save animal lives and ease overcrowding in publicly-funded shelters.

The bill's bound to get a fair hearing from legislative leaders, who are focused on saving taxpayer money through privatization.

"I think it's a way to save money, and I'm going to save every dollar so I can place it into schools or into our needed health care system," said Senate President Mike Haridopolos.

With dozens of stray animals being dropped off at shelters every day, you'd think any effort to combat overcrowding would be more than welcome, but the legislation may already be going to the dogs.

"It would be fairly ineffective across the state."

Erika Leckington runs a shelter that last year took in 10,000 animals. Her team's already in close contact with a rescue group, but they're often filled to capacity too.

Another group only takes specific breeds, and on busy days, Erika worries new mandates would only make matters worse.

"It puts a lot of constraints on the amount of money that we'll have to spend in terms of labor and time, and actually space, if we're to hold these animals, if we would have to hold them 24 hours past the time that we would already elect to euthanize them."

Which in the end could make overcrowding an even bigger issue. That's why critics aren't howling for the bill to pass, even though countless animal lives hang in the balance.

The so-called animal rescue act would still let animal control shelters euthanize terminally-ill animals and dangerous dogs without having to contact a local rescue group first.

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