The April 1, 2008 issue of the Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association (JAVMA) reports on a law that will take effect this month in Los Angeles. An excerpt from the article is below.
This April in Los Angeles, one of the nation’s strictest pet sterilization laws takes effect, mandating that most of the city’s pet owners have their cat or dog spayed or neutered by the time the animal is four months old. Certain animals, such as service dogs and those belonging to registered breeders, are exempted from the law.
Supporters of the law hope that it will reduce the number of unwanted cats and dogs that are euthanized each year in the city. The JAVMA article states that in 2007 8,960 cats and 6,049 dogs were euthanized because homes could not be found for them.
However, not everyone supports the law.
Pedigree groups such as the American Kennel Club and the Cat Fanciers’ Association are opposed to mandatory spay and neuter laws, saying dog and cat overpopulation is a complex problem that goes beyond reproductive status to multiple aspects of owner irresponsibility. The Los Angeles ordinance will be difficult to enforce and evaded by owners who don’t licence their pets with the city.
Ah, controversy. Personally, I am ambivalent about this law. From a population standpoint, it makes perfect sense. It breaks my heart to think of 15,000 unwanted pets being euthanized each year in Los Angeles. The law likely will bring that number down.
But I do not treat populations. I treat individuals. The jury is still out on whether four months of age is the best time to sterilize a pet, as I mentioned in a previous post. So, although the law may be the best thing for Los Angeles’ cats and dogs in general, there are some individuals for whom the law may be less than ideal.