Thursday, March 4, 2010

Mandatory Sterilization; Bad Idea

The idea of mandatory spay and neuter of pets is rearing its ugly head all across the nation, but has gone particularly viral in California. Consider the following pertinent facts:

Coercive and punitive legislation is unnecessary. Shelter intake and euthanasia numbers have dramatically and steadily declined since the 1970s. This in the face of a burgeoning human population during this same time period.

According to shelter expert Nathan Winograd, there are over five times more homes opening up for pets every year in the US, than there are pets euthanized in shelters.

Forced sterilization, steep license fees and harsh fines disproportionately punish seniors and low income families.

Mandatory sterilization results in increased shelter intakes and deaths anywhere it has been tried. Always! The City of Los Angeles has seen a sharp rise in intakes that coincides with the passage of their mandatory sterilization bill a little over a year ago.

Mandatory sterilization is costly to enforce.

Millions of dollars of revenue to communities hosting dog shows will vanish. AKC will rightly assume that their intact dogs are not welcome in these areas and move their dog shows to more breeder-friendly locations.

Compliance will be low, and revenues will drop, as owners will increasingly seek to avoid steep fees and costly, unnecessary surgery on their pets. Veterinarians are increasing the price tags for neutering.....with the clients at their mercy, by government mandate!

The vast majority of owned pets (70% of dogs and 84% of cats) are already sterilized.

Feral cats comprise the majority of shelter intakes, and sterilization mandates do nothing to reduce the numbers of feral cats. Instead, "TNR" (trap-neuter-release) has proven the only humane and effective  solution to controlling feral cat populations. 

Compulsory sterilization laws have resulted in increased incidence of RABIES, as owners who avoid licensing may also fail to vaccinate for rabies. This creates a dire risk to human health. Fort Worth TX abandoned their mandated sterilization bill after they experiences an unprecedented increase in rabies cases.

We have effectively reached a nationwide "no kill" level that averages 1.25% pet per population. We have shortages of adoptable pets in all the New England states, the bay area of California and the San Diego area.

Forced sterilization increases the black market for dogs and puppies. Dogs are being smuggled in by the thousands now from Mexico. Rescue groups are even importing from other countries....(Mexico, Brazil, the Caribbean, Taiwan and Romania to name some of the most popular spots to import from). The conservative estimate is 300,000 dogs imported each year. All this to meet the demand for pets.

Behavioral studies show that neutering increases fearfulness, noise phobias and aggression.

Other studies prove significant health risks associated with early neutering. The most problematic is a delayed closure of the growth plates, resulting in abnormal, "weedy" skeletal development that predisposed the dog to orthopedic problems. Working dogs, if neutered too young, can not develop normally to perform the jobs they were bred for.

Other well-documented adverse health effects of early neutering include increased risk of bone cancer, hemangiosarcoma, urinary incontinence, hypothyroidism, and cognitive dysfunction in older dogs. Dogs neutered at an early age have an increased susceptibility to infectious disease, and also a higher incidence of adverse reactions to vaccines.

The latest studies show that ovaries are linked to longevity. Spayed bitches don't get to keep their ovaries.

Bottom line, the decision to neuter a pet is an individual one, and should be made only by an owner in consultation with his veterinarian. The state does not have the moral authority to usurp this right.

The ASPCA and the American Veterinary Medical Association are OPPOSED to mandatory sterilization because they know that this policy creates more problems than it solves.

"In contrast, the ASPCA is not aware of any credible evidence demonstrating a statistically significant enhancement in the reduction of shelter intake or euthanasia as a result of the implementation of a mandatory spay/neuter law."
Some successful solutions to shelter problems include TNR of feral cats, lifting limit laws, and providing low-cost sterilization clinics for those who elect to neuter their pets. Other effective methods include extending shelter hours, working proactively with local rescues and outreaching to place pets through various community outlets.

Just say NO to government-mandated sterilization!

What Is the Status of Dogs and Cats in the US?

Nationwide Dog Ownership 39%

Cat Ownership 34%

Dogs Spayed/Neutered 70%

Cats Spayed/Neutered 84%

Intake Per Thousand 23.3 (2.33%)

Euthanasia Per Thousand 12.5 (1.25%)

Source: Population Division, U.S. Census Bureau, 2006, LA/MS Shelter statistics, ownership and altering statistics citations and documentation available at:  (pg 11)


  1. Sounds like you are pro breeding, and actually discouraging spay and neuter?