In February, 2008, the city of Los Angeles passed a bill mandating that all dogs and cats in the city be spayed or neutered. . The goal of the ordinance was begin to minimize the number of pets that were euthanized in the city shelters. In theory, it makes sense. If you mandate that dogs and cats be altered, you decrease unwanted litters, and thus, you decrease shelter population and thus euthanasia.
In practice, it doesn't really work that way.
The reality is that the number one reason why people say they don't alter their pets is because they cannot afford the procedure. So without strong network of low cost/no cost spay/neuter programs, it is difficult or nearly impossible for people to comply with the law. With the increased number of new "lawbreakers", animal control confiscates more animals from homes, increasing intake, and increasing euthanasia.
You can read a lot more about that at the No Kill Advocacy Center -- The Dark Side of Mandatory Laws.
LA's numbers for year one were indicative of this. So how were things in year two? Well, let's review. The following are the canine intake and euthanasia numbers for dogs over the past decade:
2001 Intake: 40,442 Euthanized: 22,675
2002 Intake: 34,295 Euthanized: 17,335 (-24%)
2003 Intake: 30,605 Euthanized: 12,821 (-62%)
2004 Intake: 26,949 Euthanized: 9,985 (-22%)
2005 Intake: 25, 740 Euthanized: 8,127 (-19%)
2006 Intake: 24,999 Euthanized: 6,949 (-15%)
2007 Intake: 25,792 Euthanized: 6,051 (-13%)
In 2008, the mandatory spay/neuter ordinance was passed:
2008 Intake: 30,813 Euthanized: 7,518 (+24%)
2009 Intake 31,869 Euthanized: 7,624 (+1.5%)
The numbers for cats have fortunately declined slightly (-1%) after being up 35% in 2008.
So after 8 consecutive years of decreasing shelter intake and euthanasia, Los Angeles reversed this positive trend after passing mandatory spay/neuter and has now created a situation where euthanasia has increased now two years in a row. Not good.
It is highly recommended that instead of pushing for mandatory spay/neuter policies, cities should invest money into low cost/no cost spay/neuter programs that DO help decrease shelter euthanasia by decreasing unwanted litters, without creating a new class of "outlaws" with dogs getting taken from owners and killed.
Hat Tip: LA Animal Watch