SACRAMENTO, CA - Some shelter animals are anxiously waiting for new homes, others need their owners to re-claim them, but they only have they have six days.
Cities and counties typically pay for three days, or 72 hours, of care under the Hayden Act, the state reimburses them about $23 million a year to keep the animals alive for another three days.
However, Gov. Jerry Brown wants to permanently relieve the state its mandate to save money.
Critics said that's putting pets on death row too soon.
"After 72 hours at this point, they can be euthanized," Animal Attorney Marla Tauscher said.
Tauscher began an online petition on Change.org to protest the proposal. Some kids even began their own signature drive.
Tauscher turned in nearly 50,000 signatures to Brown hoping that'll pressure him to back off.
"It is heartbreaking. It really is," Tauscher said. "These provisions, they don't require anything more than common decency. They're not extraordinary. They're not exorbitant."
But the Brown administration points to a report by the Legislative Analyst Office that found no evidence the extra three days actually increased adoptions.
It also said the formula on how much counties get makes no sense.
"So these governments who are putting down more animals get more money from the state," California Department of Finance spokesperson H.D. Palmer said. "That seems to be a perverse fiscal incentive."
To help, Brown proposed to give local governments an extra $500 million to spend however they want, including paying for the extra three days themselves.
With so many other pressing needs, pet owners want dedicated state funding to help them.
"Maybe they're at work. They're busy and don't have time to rescue their pet," Pet Owner Marci Frank said. "They need to allow more time for that."
Former Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger once proposed a similar budget cut for the extra three days. He decided not to when his daughter confronted him about it.