California Mandatory Spay?Neuter A Disaster For Dogs


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Mar 14, 2008
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California Statistics Prove Mandatory
Spay And Neuter Law Will Backfire

American Sporting Dog Alliance

SACRAMENTO, CA – Californians who support legislation to mandate spaying and neutering of dogs claim that their intention is to reduce the number of unwanted dogs taken to and euthanized at animal shelters. Mandatory spay and neuter legislation is expected to be reintroduced in California this year, and the City of Los Angeles recently passed the nation’s most restrictive pet sterilization ordinance.

However, actual animal shelter statistics from California conclusively prove that these laws are unnecessary and will backfire in a way that will harm or kill thousands of dogs – and they prove it dramatically!

Not only do the statistics clearly refute the stated purpose of this law, they also show that such a law will greatly increase the number of dogs taken to animal shelters and killed, an analysis by The American Sporting Dog Alliance (ASDA) shows.

The American Sporting Dog Alliance is the unified voice of dog owners and professionals who raise breeds of dogs used for hunting. We work at the grassroots level to protect the rights of dog owners across America, and are supported solely by the donations of our members. Please visit us on the web at Your participation and membership are vital.

An ASDA investigation of this issue gathered shelter statistics statewide for the past 10 years, and then compared them to data from San Mateo County, which passed a very restrictive spay and neuter ordinance in 1996. We also analyzed data from the City of Los Angeles. ASDA’s analysis is based on statistics published by the Veterinary Public Health Section of the California Department of Health Services. All animal shelters are required by law to report their annual statistics to the state.

The California legislation is but the tip of the iceberg. Similar legislation is being seriously considered in several other states and municipalities around the country. What happens in California – and what has happened – will have a major impact on dog owners everywhere in America.

Current state law in California leaves the decision to spay or neuter up to individual dog owners and their veterinarians. A strong public education program has greatly increased the number of dogs that are voluntarily spayed or neutered by their owners.

This approach has worked. This conclusion is written in neon lights in the data collected by the State of California:

· In 1996, 494,998 dogs entered animal shelters in California, and the number peaked at 521,300 in 2002. Since then, however, statewide shelter admissions have dropped dramatically to 292,531 dogs in 2006.

· The number of dogs entering shelters has fallen very sharply since 2002, declining by 228,769 since then – which is a 44-percent decrease over four years.

· A large percentage of dogs received by municipal shelters are euthanized. During the same period, the number of dogs euthanized at California shelters dropped from 276,789 in 1996 to107,022 in 2006. In the past four years alone, the number of dogs euthanized has declined by almost 40-percent.

California’s pet overpopulation problem clearly is solving itself, mostly because of an increase in awareness by dog owners that has led to voluntary sterilization.

In addition, more dogs from shelters are finding good homes. Shelter adoptions declined steadily in the years prior to 1999, when the statistical low point of 57,620 dogs found homes. Since then, however, the number of shelter adoptions has soared to 93,795 in 2006.

Those state statistics on shelter admissions, euthanasia and adoptions clearly and dramatically refute the need for mandatory spay and neuter legislation.

But San Mateo County’s statistics are even more clear and dramatic, and offer conclusive proof of the unintended consequences of mandatory sterilization. They show a huge increase in the number of dogs entering shelters since a mandatory spay and neuter ordinance was passed in 1996, and also a large increase in shelter euthanasia. In fact, it took San Mateo County 10 years to get back to the rates it had the year before the ordinance was passed.

While San Mateo County was struggling to get back to “Square One,” the rest of the state was making rapid progress to solve the problem of unwanted animals.

Dogs paid the price for the San Mateo ordinance. They paid the price with the loss of their homes, and many paid with their lives.

The Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals sponsored and drafted the San Mateo County ordinance, which mandates that every dog over six months of age must be spayed or neutered unless the owner obtains a very restrictive and expensive breeders’ permit. It became law in October of 1996. Violators are subject to heavy fines, prosecution and seizures.

In 1996, 4,922 dogs entered the San Mateo County shelter system. Then the ordinance was passed. In 1997, this number rose to 4,939 dogs, but then soared to 8,771 in 1998. The county began to approach pre-ordinance levels in the Year 2000, with 4,144 dogs received, and the number gradually fell to 3,520 in 2006. However, percentage of this decline in the number of dogs entering San Mateo County shelters is far smaller than comparable statewide figures during the same period.

The ordinance has hurt dogs, not helped them. It is believed that financial hardship, and fear of fines and prosecution, has led many people to abandon their pets, while discouraging other people from adopting pets at shelters.

Many more dogs were killed in San Mateo County shelters in the years following the passage of the ordinance, and the shelter kill rate did not drop to pre-ordinance levels until 2006 – a bloody 10-year-long trail of death for dogs to reach euthanasia levels that existed before the ordinance was passed.

Dogs killed at San Mateo County shelters rose from 1,286 to 1,525 in the year following the passage of the ordinance, and rose again to 1,621 the following year. In 2006, 1,317 dogs were killed, which basically puts the county where it was before the ordinance was passed. During this same period, the rest of California reduced shelter euthanasia by 66-percent with a voluntary program.

Because of the burdens of spaying and neutering, fewer people adopted dogs in San Mateo County. Pet adoptions from the county’s shelters were 1,188 the year before the ordinance was passed, but had fallen to 839 by the Year 2000.

The Los Angeles City Council passed the nation’s most restrictive spay and neuter ordinance last month.

The statistics show, that there was no need for it. Los Angeles shelter admissions of dogs have fallen steadily from 96,374 in 1996 to 74,445 in 2006, prior to the passage of the ordinance.

Likewise, shelter killing in Los Angeles dropped from 58,457 in 1996 to 28,591 in 2006. San Mateo County’s experience shows that shelter euthanasia is likely to increase significantly in the wake of the new Los Angeles ordinance.

During 2006, 27,516 dogs were adopted from Los Angeles shelters, and another 13,138 were returned to their owners. Both numbers are expected to decline dramatically in 2008, based on the San Mateo County experience.

Please visit us at Your membership and participation are vital, both to save thousands of California dogs from losing their homes and facing certain suffering and death, and to defend the rights of dog owners.

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