In May of 2010, the cities of Las Vegas, North Las Vegas, Henderson and the rest of unincorporated Clark County passed laws mandating that all dogs and cats be spayed and neutered because the county animal shelter was killing more than 17,000 dogs and cats each year. The idea was, they hoped, to decrease the number of animals impounded, and thus killed, at the shelter -- never mind that this has never been an effective solution to the problem.
The results after year 1? As one would predict, failure.
Below are the shelter impound and euthanasia rates for dogs over the past three years. The county's fiscal year runs from July 1 to June 30. I am starting with the base year of 08-09 as the first "clean" year. 09-10 would include 2 months with the MSN ordinance in existance. Experience has shown a typically sharp increase in shelter intake immediately after a law like this passes due to fear/confusion over the law and people surrendering their pets. The numbers for 10-11 are with the first full year of MSN.
I've not included cats in the chart below because the impound numbers for cats have been very consistent over the past 7 years -- and their increasing kill rate for cats seems to be directly tied to lower adoptions. None of this is a huge surprise because MSN laws tend to have less impact on cats because so many impounded cats are ferals that cannot comply with the law -- except in some instances where cities use the MSN to catch and kill all feral cats for being in violation -- but few cities have the resources to actually dedicate to this.
Here are the numbers:
For dogs, 09-10 saw an 8% increase in intake and an 18% increase in euthanasia, and 10-11 saw a 6% increase in intake and a staggering 33% in euthanasia vs the base year of 07-08.
Much of the reason for the higher increase in euthanasia vs intake appears to be that there was fairly large number of dogs that were "carried over" from 09-10 to 10-11 that appeared to still be in the shelter -- and in 10-11 not only having the 'carried over' dogs, but also seeing a pretty sharp decrease in owner reclaims -- possibly as a result of higher fines that resulted from the MSN.
Here are the numbers:
|Year||Dog Impounds||Increase vs 08||Dogs Killed||Increase vs 08|
Las Vegas appears to be yet another situation where MSN has failed to do what it was intended to do -- decrease shelter killing -- and in this case, like so many, saw a sharp increase in canine killing following the passing of the law.
I support spaying and neuting animals. But consistently, low cost, VOLUNTARY spay/neuter programs have proven to be a more effective solution to lowering shelter intake and, thus, killing, than mandatory programs.
Most people who do not alter their pets say they don't do it because of the cost. HELPING them to alter their pets through a low cost program is a far more effective solution than punishing them for not. This has been particularly problematic in the Las Vegas area because their tourism-based economy has really been hit hard because of the economic downturn.
Here is an article from the News 3 in Las Vegas on the story. Unfortunately it's been taken down from their website, so the link is to a cached version -- so sorry for the funky formatting. Their numbers don't match the numbers from the Clark County Animal Control -- primarily because the report was done prior to the end of the county's fiscal year and used an incomplete year of data for the most recent year (and the numbers were still bad).
Clark County Animal Control's Cat numbers 2004-2011
Clark County Animal Control's Dog numbers 2004-2011