County Delays Cat, Dog Spay-Neuter Law

Community task force in Santa Barbara, Calif., will study the impact of a mandatory spay and neuter ordinance.

Posted: May 10, 2008, 5 a.m. EDT

Santa Barbara County will not require pet owners to spay or neuter their cats and dogs – for now. County supervisors decided to form an 11-member community task force instead, charged with studying the impacts of a mandatory spay and neuter ordinance.

Tuesday’s 4-1 vote by the board of supervisors means that the implementation of a countywide spay-neuter ordinance will be delayed for months. The task force will consist of board-appointed individuals.

The goal of the county’s draft spay-neuter ordinance is to “reduce pet overpopulation and arrest the growth of the associated costs,” a staff report prepared for the board of supervisors states. The usual exemptions in such ordinances include:

  • Veterinary medical exemption.
  • Cats and dogs used for competitive showing.
  • Pets in the county temporarily.
  • Working dogs (law enforcement, service, search and rescue, herding, and others if determined).
  • Cats and dogs for breeding, with permit.

If pet owners don’t comply, they generally receive “fix-it” tickets, with a grace period to resolve their case. Exemptions and grace periods, however, are not enough to gain the support of some animal groups.

On one side of the ongoing spay-neuter debate, opponents say that a mandatory spay-neuter law infringes on the property rights of pet owners and might also put dogs and cats at risk. Supporters, however, say that enacting such laws helps manage the pet population and prevent the euthanasia of millions of unwanted cats and dogs.

Within the county of Santa Barbara, the city of Lompoc passed its own spay-neuter ordinance in 2006. Various counties and cities across the United States also mandate the spaying or neutering of cats and dogs.

A mandatory ordinance in place since 1995 in Santa Cruz County, Calif., served as a model for similar legislation passed in San Mateo, Lake, Stanislaus, Sacramento, and Los Angeles counties. California cities with such ordinances on the books include Los Angeles, San Bernardino, Sacramento, Agoura Hills, Santa Clarita, La Puente, Palmdale, Walnut, and Clearlake.


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Norm   idk, AS

7/1/2009 12:18:43 PM

pet over population is fake. ukc did a study and almost all of the "facts" of pet overpopulation are either made up or quoted from another animal rights overpopulation. there are more people than animals; why not get your kid fixed and see how that goes?

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Dani   Cameron Pk., CA

4/7/2009 10:43:44 AM

Without mandatory Spay/Neuter laws, things are not likely to change, and we know too many animals are currently being euthanized. The laws are needed, but so are easily accessible, very low, or no cost, spay/neuter clinics. The money shelters will save by housing and euthanizing fewer animals, could go toward providing very inexpensive altering of pets. How about $5.00 or $10.00 maximum? If one can afford to feed ones pet, then this should not be a difficult amount to spend on a spay or neuter. Licensing for Breeders is also needed. However, they should not be too Pricey, or come with unreasonable requirements. Perhaps then they wouldn't be so strongly against mandatory spay/neuter laws. As for assuming there will no longer be mixed breeds available, that's nonsense, since it will be impossible to keep ALL animals from interbreeding. This law would simply help, not solve overpopulation, but anything in that direction is a good thing!

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Louise   Hinton, WV

5/27/2008 8:52:13 AM

If only breeders will be able to produce puppies then there will no longer be "mutt" breeds. Inbreeding of pedigrees will create sickness and the proliferation of genetic problems and the demise of domestic dogs and cats. I agree that there is a serious problem with overpopulation and negligent owners but is this really the solution? How about pregnancy permits for all dog owners. Please do NOT restrict the dog and cat population to PEDIGREES ONLY. What are we, dog nazis??

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Louise   Hinton, WV

5/27/2008 8:51:13 AM

If only breeders will be able to produce puppies then there will no longer be "mutt" breeds. Inbreeding of pedigrees will create sickness and the proliferation of genetic problems and the demise of domestic dogs and cats. I agree that there is a serious problem with overpopulation and negligent owners but is this really the solution? How about pregnancy permits for all dog owners. Please do NOT restrict the dog and cat population to PEDIGREES ONLY. What are we, dog nazis??

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