Their law seems to be very compassionately enforced (by comparitive standards) -- with people caught for non-compliance being fined $100 -- with the fine being waved if they get their pet altered within 30 days.
It should also be noted that several years prior to these laws passing, The Humane Alliance began providing low cost spay/neuter programs in the community. The established availability of low cost spay/neuter programs (20,000 spay/neuters a year in a county of 230,000 people is a huge number of surgeries) certainly had an impact on the success/failure of their MSN law.
A couple of years later, some students from North Carolina State University did an analysis of the impact of the laws. Their data appears to be pretty good, but I don't really agree with their conclusions from the study. But I will share the results here and let you make your own conclusions. The study includes impounds from the surrounding county and also from the city of Asheville (by far the largest city in the county).
The chart above shows the number of low cost spay/neuters that were provided from 2001-2006. As you can see, their aggressive low cost voluntary program began increasing dramatically from 2001 to 2004 -- but as the law was passed in the county in 2004, followed by the city law in 2005, the number of spay/neuters began to decline.
Meanwhile, in Asheville, the number of dogs impounded (left) was increasing significantly from 2001 to 2003, but in 2004, they finally began seeing the impact of their low cost spay/neuter efforts and saw a significant decrease in itake in 2004 -- but after the law took effect, the numer leveled back out again in 2005 and went back up in 2006. While euthanasia held flat and then declined a bit, the writers of the study conclude that this decrease (and separation from intake rates) is largely due to increased adoption efforts and not because of the law. So had intake not increased the euthanasia rate would have dropped even more significantly due to the increased adoption efforts.
In the county, the numbers are a bit different. After flat intake and euthanasia numbers between 2001 and 2002 (for dogs), the number of impounds (and thus euthanasia) decreased dramatically in 2003 along with the high increase in spay/neuters. The declines continued post the spay/neuter ordinance being passed, but actually slowed compared to the 2002-2003 numbers.
The results were similar for the cats in the county where declines in intake slowed after the ordinance passed. The writers of the research paper even note that enforcement of the law in the country was less strict than it was in the city because people are more spread out (especially in the mountainous county) and people are less likely to run across animal control officers. This is likely why declines decreased vs going all the way to increase impounds like they saw in the city.
Despite the increase in intake in the city, and despite the reality that fewer people were actually getting their pets altered after the ordinance vs before, the writers of the paper somehow conclude that the law might possibly be working an that it should continue.
But the reality is, they were having success just based on their low cost spay/neuter efforts prior to the laws being passed and their successes were SLOWED after the ordinance was past.
You may have your own takeaways on the data and after reading the complete study and feel free to leave your thoughts in the comments section.
As best I can see, it really points out that there is no shortcut to success. While many people WANT mandatory spay/neuter ordinances to work, they don't have the impact that people want. The solution is solely providing voluntary low-cost spay/neuter services and doing outreach into low-income neighborhoods and HELPING people to spay/neuter.
I really believe people want MSN to work because it would be a shortcut to doing the harder work of doing the necessary outreach and low cost spay/neuter programs. But there is no shortcut. You have to do the things necessary to really make a difference.