In 2008, the city of Los Angeles passed a new law mandating that all dogs and cats had to be spayed or neutered.
Advocates of the law said that by forcing spay/neuter, we would decrease the number of unintentional litters, and thus, cause fewer dogs and cats to enter the shelter. Three years into the ordinance, and intake numbers continue to increase.
The unfortunate part of Mandatory Spay/Neuter (MSN) laws is that they end up targeting the people with the lowest incomes. The #1 reason people say they do not alter their dog is because of the cost of the proceedure. The vast majority of owned cats are already altered (90% of the ones in households making $35,000+) but the ones that aren't are owned by those with low incomes (only 51% of cats in HHs making less than $35,000 are altered). And MSN cannot be met for community cats that have no owners.
Thus, when laws like MSN get passed, they almost always end up targeting low-income pet owners - -who we should be out trying to HELP comply, vs targeting them with hefty fines they cannot pay.
The end result of MSN is more animals get impounded into the shelter, and thus, more end up killed.
And the numbers in Los Angeles continue to reflect this. This is a breakdown of the number of DOGS that were impounded and killed in the Los Angeles City Shelter over the past decade (older numbers come from Shelter Trak:
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%)
2010 Intake : 33,396 Euthanized: 8,210 (+7.7%)
The numbers for Cats have also not improved:
2006 Euthanized: 12,277
2007 Euthanized: 8,960 (MSN begins after this year)
2008 Euthanized: 12,099
2009 Euthanized: 11,938
2010 Euthanized 12,435
There are some who are still clinging to the changes as being just because of the economy (and I admit there may be some economic factors involved) but Los Angeles is far from an isolated case in their failures with MSN. It is obvious failings like this, where the city went from consistently declining impound and euthanasia numbers prior to the ordinance taking effect and immediately began seeing inclines in both categories that have virtuatlly all animal welfare organizations speaking out against mandatory spay/neuter laws -- including the AVMA, ASPCA, Best Friends, American Humane , Ally Cat Allies and the No Kill Advocacy Center.
So while there is a lot of consensus that targeted, voluntary, low cost spay/neuter programs are effective in gaining spay/neuter compliance - -and a large trackrecord of success, However, taking the next step to mandating the law is only a recipe to increase impounds, and thus, shelter killing. Los Angeles is yet another example of the ongoing failure of these laws.
For more reading:
The Dark Side of Mandatory Laws - No Kill Advocacy Center