RIP, Tom Hayden

I was saddened to learn that Tom Hayden has passed away. Hayden was, at times, a very controversial politician over the course of his career. But one thing that I have learned in my years in animal welfare is that kindness to animals is an issue that cuts across all political, economic, social and racial lines — especially when it comes to our dog and cat animal companions.

In 1998, then a California state senator, and a Democrat, Tom Hayden introduced and sponsored SB 1785, which has come to be known as the Hayden Act. California’s Republican governor, Pete Wilson, signed it into law in September of that year.

Tom Hayden was not an animal activist, but he understood the value of laws that promote transparency and, in this case, the benefit of extending basic care to shelter animals and empowering rescue organizations and the public to save lives. Animal and nonprofit law professor Taimie Bryant of the UCLA School of Law largely informed the Hayden Act, and is credited with writing the majority of the shelter regulations within the act.

Over the years, the Hayden Act has provided the legal basis to hold the line in California against legislative compromises, local government violations and shelter mismanagement that costs animal lives.

In addition to enshrining basic care for shelter animals, extending mandatory hold times, and identifying and protecting the needs of community cats, the Hayden Act notably guaranteed shelter access so that 501(c)(3) rescue organizations could take animals scheduled for death.

Whatever his political views, the animals and the no-kill movement owe Tom Hayden a thank-you for moving this landmark piece of legislation through the California Senate and for reaching across the aisle to secure the signature of a governor from an opposing party.

Rest in peace, Mr. Hayden.

Together, we will Save Them All.

Julie Castle


Best Friends Animal Society