Mandatory Spay and Neuter Laws

Mandatory spay and neuter (MSN) laws are all the rage lately and for some reason many in the rescue community are getting behind them. Most of the time animal rescuers are very smart, researching what they do. That’s why thy save animals instead of breed them. They are smart and have hearts for the helpless in our society. Yet, for some reason they, and many others, seems to have skipped their research when it comes to mandatory spay and neuter. They also seem to have forgotten which country we live in.

It is very much a fact that spaying and neutering domestic cats and dogs reduces the pet population. People simply can’t stop nature! Dogs and cats are driven to make more dogs and cats, and when the time is right they will stop at nothing to do so! In fact, leaving your dog in-tact is a good way to lose him, as he will be driven to track down any in heat females he can smell. Dogs that have never gotten out of the yard will scale a 6 foot fence for a good opportunity to make puppies! Spaying and neutering in itself is highly recommend by about pretty much everyone and the benefits go on and on. All 5 of my dogs, including my purebred AKC registered Irish Wolfhound are spayed or neutered, along with my two cats. No puppies here unless they are rescued!

You would think because of this that mandatory spay and neuter laws would greatly reduce pet population then, since spaying and neutering works so well. But its not nearly that simple. First of all, the people who are not spaying and neutering their animals now are in one of three groups. Either they are a responsible breeder, that has good homes lined up for their animals, they are people that are already not following the licensing, vaccination, and anti-cruelty laws already in existence, or they would be open to spaying or neutering but do not have access to a vet or can not afford to get their animals spay or neutered.
In the united states, animal welfare laws are very very rarely enforced. It is a well known fact, even among the rescue community. Most of the time a not for profit group has to come in and do all the leg work while local police or animal control basically come along for the “bust.” Groups like the ASPCA or local humane societies will have to step in if anything is going to get done. The municipalities simply aren’t doing it. Putting another law on the books that won’t get enforced is not going to change a thing. The people with puppy mills will still have puppy mills, the people who just dont care about their dogs still wont care.  In fact even the ASPCA is against mandatory spay and neuter laws,
“The ASPCA is not aware of any credible evidence demonstrating a statistically significant enhancement in the reduction of shelter intake or euthanasia as a result of the implementation of a mandatory spay/neuter law.”
 They go on to say,
“[…] in at least one community that enacted an MSN law, fewer pets were subsequently licensed, likely due to owners’ reluctance to pay either the high fee for keeping an unaltered animal or the fee to have the pet altered (Office of Legislative Oversight, 1997).”
Wait, not only do MSN laws not work, but they actually hurt people and animals? Yep. Thats right. It has actually been shown that mandatory spay and neuter laws actually do damage in some communities. Owners that don’t want to spay or neuter, or can not afford it and don’t want to get caught, will forgo medical care (including vaccinations that help the pet population as a whole) to avoid getting caught or fined. Even veterinarians are against MSN laws because they don’t want people to avoid bringing their animals to the vet for other services. The American Veterinary Medical Association says,

” The AVMA does not support regulations or legislation mandating spay/neuter of privately owned, non-shelter dogs and cats. Although spaying and neutering helps control dog and cat populations, mandatory approaches may contribute to pet owners avoiding licensing, rabies vaccination and veterinary care for their pets, and may have other unintended consequences.”

These are not the only major groups that oppose mandatory spay and neuter laws. In addition to the the ASPCA, and the AVMA; No Kill Houston, the AKC, the NAIA, Best Friends Animal Society, and most large no- kill rescue groups oppose MSN laws.

There has been some good research done specifically into the cat over population problem, and it has been found that most domestic cats are spayed or neutered already. The problem lies with the stray and feral cat populations. MSN laws would actually divert resources away from trap-neuter-release programs that are badly needed. My own cat was a product of a lack TNR resources here in illinois. Not only were there no groups to help ta local women trap her ferals, but no groups were willing to take the cats either. So I came and helped with my own time and money taking four kittens. Ally Cat Allies has a fantastic document outlining all the issues with MSN and feral cat populations,

“MSN targets owners of pet cats in an effort to increase the spay/neuter rate—a pointless target given that 82% of pet cats are already neutered.”

In addition to medical care being withheld from animals and diverting resources away from TNR programs, mandatory spay and neuter laws also keep time and funds away from other places they could be better used. Such as, providing education on why it is important to spay and neuter (which has been shown to increase the amount of pets that are spayed/neutered)  and enforcing the laws that already exist. If we tracked down those breeding with out a license or those who are running puppy mills and shut them down there would be less impulse puppies available and eventually less given up to shelters (this is another issue for another day).

Mandatory Spay and Neuter laws are also unconstitutional. At this time in most of the United States animals are considered property (though that is changing in some places) and as long as I’m not hurting anyone I should be allowed to do what I want with my property. Property rights are incredibly important and almost always take precedent over any other issue at hand. Personally, this alone is a good enough reason not to have MSN laws, but I did the research on all the reasons anyway just to show the point that MSN laws don’t work!

Education always works better than legislation and this is just another example of that. If we want less pets, we need to provide people with low/no cost spay and neuter programs and educate them on the importance of spaying and neutering.

Here are the pages quoted and some other good MSN resources:

http://www.naiaonline.org/about/policy_mandatory_spay_neuter.htm

http://www.alleycat.org/document.doc?id=240

http://www.avma.org/issues/policy/animal_welfare/population_control.asp

http://www.aspca.org/about-us/policy-positions/mandatory-spay-neuter-laws.aspx

http://www.theamericandogmag.com/politics/effects-of-mandatory-spay-neuter-laws

Please spay and neuter your pets!

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