Mandatory Sterilization Laws Would Increase Pet Abandonment and Animal Control (Taxpayer) Costs

Sign the Petition against SB 250 for Mandatory Sterilization of all California pet dogs and cats.

Last year I wrote to ask for help defending pet owner rights against a proposed California legislative bill AB 1364 which would require California pet owners to sterilize all pet dogs and cats over the age of 4 months. Thankfully, AB 1634 was defeated in the Senate last summer but a new bill has arisen which would once again take away a lot of our rights as citizens and pet owners.

It is my belief that the decision to sterilize a pet should remain the right of each pet owner under advisement of the pet’s veterinarian. Sterilization is a veterinary/medical procedure requiring general anesthesia and not without its risks. Read my post from last year, Help Defend the Rights of California Pet Owners, to see some of the side effects of sterilization.

This does not mean that I am against spaying and neutering in general. It is the right choice for some pets, but it should not be a blanket regulation.

Why You Should Care

According to ASPCA Pet Ownership Statistics, 63% of all U.S. households have a pet. This legislation might only affect California residents for now, but if this law is passed, it won’t be long before other states, cities and/or counties follow suit.

Why SB 250 Will Not Work

A mandatory sterilization law would increase animal control costs and more tax dollars would have to be spent because:

  • Animal control officials would have the added responsibility of patroling and citing pet owners for intact pets.
  • More pets would be abandoned because irresponsible pet owners, who are the cause of the current overpopulation problem, would find it more convenient and less expensive to simply abandon their pets. Those who don’t already abide by the regulations will only ignore any new ones.
  • The current economic crisis has already aggravated the pet abandonment problem. Pets are being abandoned left and right as pet owners find themselves strapped for cash. The shelters are already overflowing with unwanted animals.

In April 2008, the county of Los Angeles passed a mandatory sterilization ordinance which was to go into effect in October 2008.  In August 2008, the county gave this up as officials realized that they couldn’t afford the facilities and employees necessary to enforce the new law.

More on Mandatory Spay/Neuter Laws—A Failure Everywhere.

Why SB 250 is Unethical

From the American Kennel Club website:

The bill continues to require sterilization if a dog is at-large, if the dog is not licensed, and if the dog violates local animal control ordinances, even on a first offense. This is an unreasonable standard as even a responsible owner can have a single incident where an animal is let out by a meter reader, neighbor or faulty gate. The American Kennel Club continues to oppose this bill as it unreasonably penalizes responsible dog owners and breeders. We encourage legislators to draft legislation that targets owners who are consistently irresponsible, rather than passing legislation that will harm responsible members of the community.

Existing state law already requires owners of intact animals to pay a license fee that is at least double that of licensing a sterilized animal (Food and Agriculture Code Section 30804.5) and provides for enhanced and graduated fines for owners whose intact dogs are impounded (Food and Agriculture Code Section 30804.7). These statutes are sufficient to incentivize owners to sterilize their animals and to address animal control concerns with specific intact animals who are repeatedly impounded.

The only people who would be punished by this new law would be the responsible pet owners who are already abiding by the rules.

Again, I am not campaigning against pet neutering and spaying, but rather for it to remain an individual pet owner’s right to decide for his/her own pet. Sterilization can be the right choice for many pets and owners, but it should remain just that: a choice.

How You Can Help

The Senate Appropriations Committee hearing for this bill is on May 11, 2009.

Even if you don’t live in California, every person who voices an opinion counts. Remember, where one leads others will follow, and it could be your state, county or city next.

Senate Appropriations Committee
State Capitol, Room 2206
Sacramento, CA 95814

Senator Christine Kehoe (Chair)
State Capitol, Room 5050
Sacramento, CA 95814
Phone: (916) 651-4039
Fax: (916) 327-2188

Senator Dave Cox (Vice Chair)
State Capitol, Room 2068
Sacramento, CA 95814
Phone: (916) 651-4001
Fax: (916) 324-2680

Senator Ellen Corbett
State Capitol, Room 5108
Sacramento, CA 95814
Phone: (916) 651-4010
Fax: (916) 327-2433

Senator Jeff Denham
State Capitol, Room 3076
Sacramento, CA 95814
Phone: (916) 651-4012
Fax: (916) 445-0773

Senator Mark DeSaulnier
State Capitol, Room 2054
Sacramento,CA 95814
Phone: (916) 651-4007
Fax:(916) 445-2527

Senator Loni Hancock
State Capitol, Room 3092
Sacramento, CA 95814
Phone: (916) 651-4009
Fax: (916) 327-1997

Senator Mark Leno
State Capitol, Room 4061
Sacramento, CA 95814
Phone: (916) 651-4003
Fax: (916) 445-4722

Senator Jenny Oropeza
State Capitol, Room 5114
Sacramento, CA 95814
Phone: (916) 651-4028
Fax: (916) 323-6056

Senator George Runner
State Capitol, Room 4090
Sacramento, CA 95814
Phone: (916) 651-4017
Fax: (916) 445-4662

Senator Mimi Walters
State Capitol, Room 3082
Sacramento, CA 95814
Phone: (916) 651-4033
Fax: (916) 445-9754

Senator Lois Wolk
State Capitol, Room 4032
Sacramento, CA 95814
Phone: (916) 651-4005
Fax: (916) 323-2304

Senator Mark Wyland
State Capitol, Room 4048
Sacramento, CA 95814
Phone: (916) 651-4038
Fax: (916) 446-7382

Senator Leland Yee
State Capitol, Room 4074
Sacramento, CA 95814
Phone: (916) 651-4008
Fax: (916) 327-2186

Thank you for your help.

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