Some shelter animals are anxiously waiting for new homes. Others need their owners to re-claim them -- 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 another three days. But Brown wants to permanently relieve the state its mandate to save money.
Critics say 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. Tauscher turned in nearly 50,000 signatures to the governor, hoping that'll pressure him to back off.
"It is heartbreaking, it really is; these provisions, they don't require anything more than sort of common decency, they're not extraordinary, they're not exorbitant," Tauscher said.
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 says the formula on how much counties get makes no sense.
"So those local governments who are putting down more animals get more money from the state; that seems to be a perverse fiscal incentive," California Dept. of Finance spokesperson H.D. Palmer said.
To help, the governor proposes 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; they need to allow more time for that," pet owner Marci Frank said.
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.