What do Pasadena, California; Augusta, Georgia; Madison, Wisconsin; New York City and the state of Rhode Island have in common?
Each of these places has recently advanced legislation to require that all dogs or certain classes of dogs within their jurisdictions be sterilized.
After what appeared to be several years of declining interest in mandatory spay neuter (MSN) policy by animal activists, AKC has observed resurgence in MSN proposals in the last several months, mostly at the local level.
MSN laws can take a variety of forms. They're regularly offered by activists as a quick fix for a myriad of canine issues ranging from dangerous dogs, to shelter intakes, to roaming pets, and even concerns about substandard kennels in other communities. Still, cities that have established MSN have not only found it to be ineffective; it has also created a host of new problems. For example, after Dallas, Texas, implemented MSN in 2008, the city experienced a 22% increase in animal control costs and an overall decrease in pet licensing compliance. AKC Government Relation's Issue Analysis on Mandatory Spay Neuter presents more information on why MSN is ineffective.
Tragically, some activists push for mandatory sterilization laws even as mounting scientific evidence demonstrates that spay/neuter surgery (ovariohysterectomy and castration)— especially when performed on a young puppy—can have serious long-term negative health consequences. Recent scientific studies reveal that juvenile sterilization may lead to increased incidences of cancer (including osteosarcoma, hemangiosarcoma, lymphosarcoma and mast cell tumors), hip dysplasia, ligament disorders, chronic incontinence and even shortened lifespans. These and other emerging studies contradict commonly-held beliefs about the effects of spay/neuter.
Ironically, many animal rights activists who push for government-mandated sterilization for all dogs also adamantly seek to outlaw minor procedures such as tail docking or dew claw removal. It's not clear why some find it logical to ban these minor procedures, but don't question passing laws to require major spay/neuter—in some cases only a few weeks after a pup has opened its eyes and learned to walk.
According to the American Pet Products Association, 83 percent of U.S. pet dogs are already spayed/neutered. In many communities, local rescues and shelters have so few adoptable dogs available that they are importing puppies and dogs from other communities and states to offer in their facilities. Ironically, many of these communities are the same ones that are considering MSN.