The Mandatory Spay and Neuter DebatePublished December 11, 2008
I recently received an email announcing the website created by President-Elect Barack Obama's staff: http://www. Change.org. It is a social action network which allows folks the chance to give suggestions for the new administration when Mr. Obama takes office on January 20, 2009. It is an inviting site where people can get involved, take action and also connect with folks with similar interests and issues. It is free and very easy to join.
Coincidentally, a gal with whom I am acquainted on the Internet, who’s passion for animals is unrivaled, sent me a copy of a suggestion she made to Change.org, that neutering and spaying all cats should be mandatory to reduce the number of unwanted cats languishing in shelters to be adopted, or worse yet, are homeless, roaming neighborhoods in search of food and shelter. So of course my interest was piqued. The information I found while researching the issue was very interesting.
Chicago's Aldermen Ed Burke and Ginger Rugai working with with PAWS Chicago (http://www.pawschicago.org/) and the Humane Society of the United States (HSUS) have already forwarded a proposed mandate spay/neuter program in Chicago. According to their proposal, all dogs and cats over the age of six-months must be altered unless they meet the criteria for exemption.
Mandatory spay and neuter laws may keep more animals out of shelters, but could also hurt some reputable breeders.
Those include a valid veterinarian certificate that for medical reasons the animal cannot be neutered, and valid dog and cat breeders, whose breeds meet the standards of the commission and are registered with a registry or association committed to the health and safety of the breed who are kept for breeding or showing purposes, service dogs as defined by Illinois state law, law enforcement dogs and dogs owned by guard dog companies. But Illinois is not the only state with pending bills to mandate neutering.
If the new ordinance passes, it may effectively put small reputable breeders out of commission, as the proposed mandate would end the present exemption which permits residents who occasionally have a litter for sale, to be deemed an "animal care facility" and have to pay $330.00 for a license. In order to qualify for a "breeding license" the breeder would also have to submit to a criminal background check and home inspection. Cat breeders would have to pay $100.00 per cat, annually. The transfer of a retired breeding or show cat or dog, to another person, even a relative would necessitate providing personal information to the commission and a personal and criminal background check.
The American Kennel club strongly opposes this proposed mandate because of the impact it will have on those reputable breeders and individuals who are current or prospective dog owners.
In its place they suggest enforceable laws that protect purebred dogs, and a strong educational program which is designed to promote the safety and welfare for all dogs. You can read more their response to the proposed mandate and read what other states are doing by visiting: http://www.akc.org/news/index.cfm?article_id=3502. The Cat Fancier's Association has also responded negatively to the proposed mandate. Read their response at: http://www.cfainc.org/exhibitors/alert-IL-Chicago7-12.html.
While my friend’s suggestion is well intentioned, and I appreciate her concern, at the same time I fear that mandating neutering and spaying of all dogs and cats may open a can of worms. After reading the AKC and CFA responses to the proposed mandate which seems unenforceable and cumbersome, it seems to me that a mandate may prevent many dogs and cats from finding good homes. Additionally, the impact upon reputable breeders of purebred dogs and cats may make it very difficult for a prospective cat or dog owner to find the pet of their choice without jumping through many hoops.
What are your thoughts on mandatory spaying and neutering? You can join the conversation already in progress on President-Elect Obama’s website, by visiting both http://www.change.org/ideas/view/re_make_spayingneutering_of_cats_mandatory and http://www/change.org/.
You may also share in the debate at: http://www.helium.com/debates/135690-mandatory-spaying-neutering-enforceable/side_by_side