updated 5/16/2011 10:45:21 PM ET 2011-05-17T02:45:21

SAN DIEGO, May 16, 2011 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- Assemblymember Nathan Fletcher's Assembly Bill 1279 (AB 1279), which has passed the first important milestone in the legislative process, will update language in California law to more accurately reflect the mission of modern animal care and sheltering programs. On Thursday the bill was passed by the full Assembly on consent.

This new legislation would change the term "pound" to "animal shelter" and the term "destroy" to "euthanize." In twenty different places throughout California state law, the word "pound" is used to describe animal shelters and their operations. "Pound" was a common term decades ago – when most of the laws were written – and reflects an outdated emphasis on animal control as contrasted with today's balance between animal control and animal care. Across the state, California animal shelters provide essential life-saving services, and the word "pound" does not accurately encompass the extent of their work.

Similarly, California laws referring to euthanasia in cases of dire animal suffering as "destroying" an animal also are outmoded. AB 1279 would remedy this to reinforce the state's commitment to the humane handling and treatment of animals in distress.

"This legislation is simple: it changes a handful of words to update our laws to reflect the times," said Assemblymember Fletcher. "Animal shelters – both public and non-profit agencies – do important work in our communities that California laws should accurately reflect."

"Animal shelters are places where healthy, homeless, sick and injured animals arrive for their benefit and safety, and because of the everyday challenges that people face who can no longer care for their companion animals," said Dr. Mark Goldstein, president of the San Diego Humane Society and SPCA, who initiated the changes embodied in AB 1279. "Laws that call shelters 'pounds' and suggest that officers 'destroy' animals do not meet society's current commitment or expectations to our animals nor do they recognize the dedicated and caring staff that work at these shelters. The introduction of AB 1279 represents the first step in changing the outdated language that is currently used in California law."

"California is the top-ranked state for animal protection laws and sets precedent for other states," said Jennifer Fearing, California senior state director for The Humane Society of the United States. "Since others wish to emulate California's commitment to animal protection, it's important that our laws keep pace with our progress."

AB 1279 now heads to the California Senate, which must approve the bill before the Governor can enact it.

About the San Diego Humane Society and SPCA

Serving San Diego County since 1880, the San Diego Humane Society and SPCA's scope of social responsibility goes beyond adopting animals. The Humane Society offers San Diegans a wide range of programs and services that strengthen the human-animal bond, prevent cruelty/neglect, provide medical care and educate the community on the humane treatment of animals.

As one of San Diego's oldest nonprofit organizations, the Humane Society has campuses in both San Diego and Oceanside and is supported solely through contributions, grants, bequests, investments, proceeds from the Muttique retail store, and small fees for services. For more information or to see current animals available for adoption, please visit www.sdhumane.org .

About The Humane Society of the United States

The Humane Society of the United States is the nation's largest animal protection organization — backed by 11 million Americans, or one of every 28. For more than a half-century, The HSUS has been fighting for the protection of all animals through advocacy, education and hands-on programs. Celebrating animals and confronting cruelty.

humanesociety.org

CONTACT: San Diego Humane Society
         Kelli Herwehe:
         (619) 243-3419 office
         (619)250-6801 cell
         
         Humane Society of the United States
         Jennifer Fearing:
         (916) 992-3667

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