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Post Info TOPIC: Mandatory Spay/Neuter - Backfires (5)

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Mandatory Spay/Neuter - Backfires (5)

Sterilization Mandates Backfire

The Santa Barbara proposal for mandatory sterilization seems doomed to
failure simply because of the realities of the marketplace, which have led
rescue groups and smugglers to bring in dogs to meet the insatiable demand
for cute and cuddly pets.

They are further doomed by the fact that unwanted puppies represent only a
tiny fraction of the dogs entering shelters, and an ordinance would have no
tangible effect on either shelter admissions or euthanasia numbers.

But the icing on the cake is the uncontestable fact that similar ordinances
have completely backfired in other communities that have tried it. One of
those communities was California's San Mateo County.

Statistical evidence in San Mateo County is clear and dramatic, and offers
conclusive proof of the unintended consequences of mandatory sterilization.
The data shows a huge increase in the number of dogs entering shelters since
a mandatory spay and neuter ordinance was passed in 1996, and also a large
increase in shelter euthanasia. In fact, it took San Mateo County 10 years
to get back to the rates it had the year before the ordinance was passed.

While San Mateo County was struggling to get back to "Square One," the rest
of California was making rapid progress to solve the problem of unwanted
animals through public education and voluntary programs.

Dogs paid the price for the San Mateo ordinance. They paid the price with
the loss of their homes, and many paid with their lives.

The Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals sponsored and drafted
the San Mateo County ordinance, which mandates that every dog over six
months of age must be spayed or neutered unless the owner obtains a very
restrictive and expensive breeders' permit. It became law in October of
1996. Violators are subject to heavy fines, prosecution and seizures.

In 1996, 4,922 dogs entered the San Mateo County shelter system. Then the
ordinance was passed. In 1997, this number rose to 4,939 dogs, but then
soared to 8,771 in 1998 (only a quarter of this increase can be attributed
to adding the small town of Watsonville to the county shelter system). The
county only began to approach pre-ordinance levels in the Year 2000, with
4,144 dogs received, and the number gradually fell to 3,520 in 2006.
However, percentage of this decline in the number of dogs entering San Mateo
County shelters is far smaller than comparable statewide figures during the
same period.

The ordinance has hurt dogs, not helped them. It is believed that financial
hardship, and fear of fines and prosecution, has led many people to abandon
their pets, while discouraging other people from adopting pets at shelters.

Many more dogs were killed in San Mateo County shelters in the years
following the passage of the ordinance, and the shelter kill rate did not
drop below pre-ordinance levels until 2006 - a bloody 10-year-long trail of
death for dogs to reach euthanasia levels that existed before the ordinance
was passed.

Dogs killed at San Mateo County shelters rose from 1,286 to 1,525 in the
year following the passage of the ordinance, and rose again to 1,621 the
following year. In 2006, 1,317 dogs were killed, which basically puts the
county where it was before the ordinance was passed. During this same
period, the rest of California reduced shelter euthanasia by 66-percent with
a voluntary program.

Because of the burdens of spaying and neutering, fewer people adopted dogs
in San Mateo County. Pet adoptions from the county's shelters were 1,188 the
year before the ordinance was passed, but had fallen to 839 by the Year

  Christina Ghimenti
PawPrint Boxers
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