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Post Info TOPIC: Mandatory Spay/Neuter - The Numbers (2)

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Mandatory Spay/Neuter - The Numbers (2)

The Numbers

The numbers speak loudly and clearly for the success of the current program
of voluntary spaying and neutering, combined with increased public
awareness. The numbers also strongly suggest that the best way to reduce the
number of unwanted dogs is to provide increased opportunities for no-cost
and low-cost voluntary programs.

Here are the official numbers for dogs for the past several years at the
Santa Barbara municipal shelter, according to the California Department of
Public Health Services:

*    2006 - Incomplete data. No data is available for 2007.

*    2005 - 4,755 entered, 1,356 adopted, 881 euthanized

*    2004 - 4,901 entered, 1,292 adopted, 899 euthanized

*    2003 - 5,005 entered, 1,428 adopted, 913 euthanized

*    2002 - 5,523 entered - 1,536 adopted, 1,174 euthanized

*    2001 - 4,850 entered, 1,627 adopted, 1,358 euthanized

*    2000 - incomplete data

*    1995 - 5,665 entered, 1,710 adopted, 1,434 euthanized

*    1990 - 7,090 entered, 1,245 adopted, 2,147 euthanized

We believe that this data is conclusive. The current system is amazingly
successful. The downward trends in shelter admissions and euthanasia rates
are striking evidence of success.

Since most of the dogs entering the shelter are returned to their owners or
adopted by individuals or rescue groups (616 were transferred to other
shelters in 2005), the only possible beneficial impact of mandatory
sterilization would be upon the dogs that are euthanized.

Nationwide shelter statistics show that this impact would be minimal, at
best, and probably are entirely illusory.

Accurate breakdowns of the dogs euthanized at the Santa Barbara shelter are
not available, but can be estimated under the assumption that they are
consistent with national statistics.

Those statistics would indicate that the 881 dogs euthanized in 2005 likely
would include roughly 200-to-225 that were brought to the shelter by their
owners for the express purpose of euthanasia because of old age or illness,
and another 200-to-225 of the so-called "pit bull" breeds and crosses that
are not considered to be adoptable. Other estimates are even higher. The
pro-rescue group Animal People says that 40-percent of the dogs at the Los
Angeles shelter are pit bulls, and that the number ranges up to 70-percent
in some cities.

Thus, it is likely that at least half of the dogs euthanized would fall
under those categories, and that this number would not be affected by
mandatory sterilization.

Of the remaining dogs that are euthanized (450, give or take), many are
strays that are killed because of old age, illness, injury or demonstrated
unstable dispositions. Most of the rest are probably big dogs with
undesirable characteristics or breed combinations. Many of these dogs are
described by shelter workers with a black sense of humor as being "big black
dogs," which are the hardest to adopt.

Thus, at most, mandatory spaying and neutering has the theoretical potential
to reduce the number of dogs at the shelter by around 450 a year, at current
rates of admission, which are showing clear signs of continuing to decline
at a rapid rate.

However, this does not mean that 450 shelter deaths could be avoided.

National research has shown that pet population issues rank sixth and 10th
on the list of why dogs find their way to shelters. Too many dogs at home
ranks sixth, and not finding homes for puppies ranks 10th.

The top five major causes were shown to be social issues that are part of
modern life, such as job-related moving, landlords who won't allow pets,
financial problems, lack of time, and personal problems such as divorce. A
sterilization ordinance would do nothing to reduce these shelter admissions.

This research shows that most dogs that enter shelters are wanted by their
owners, but that their owners are forced to abandon them. This research also
clearly implies that only a small fraction of the avoidable shelter deaths
could be attributed to an overpopulation of dogs - could be, that is, but
not necessarily.

  Christina Ghimenti
PawPrint Boxers
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