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« Has 'paranoia of dogs' gone too far? | Main | Weekly Roundup - Week ending 1/10/10 »

January 09, 2010



Isn't another major factor the recession, and in California particularly, the foreclosure rate? It might be interesting to compare stats on foreclosures and unemployment with these euth rates too.

Corina Dongan

Ken one would think that maybe the recession has to do with those numbers above but fact is,even before the recession and foreclosures,the killing rate numbers increased in cities who had a mandatory spay and neuter law.The solution is really to provide very low cost or no cost,which many shelters can currently provide to their communities,if they make spay and neuter more of a priority. is a good place to learn more.

Corina Dongan

Oh and also the book Irreconcilable Differences.Nathan Winograd wrote it and I highly recommend it to all people who care and love their own animals and animals in general.


I really think there is more to this than mandatory spay neuter.

Look at the numbers:

Jan-Mar 2007 - 8,322 animals taken in
Jan-Mar 2008 (BEFORE LAW TOOK EFFECT) - 9,758 animals taken in
Jan-Mar 2009 - 10,386

We were already seeing an increase in intake without the mandatory s/n law. Intake increased by 14% and euthanasia increased by 19%...all before the law actually took effect.

And after the law took effect? Intake only increased another 2%. As to the kill rate. In 2006, during the months of Apr-Dec, 17,000 animals were killed. During the same time in 2007, only 15,000 animals were killed. The kill rates went back to the 2006 (and 2005) rates in 2008 and 2009. Rates, by the way, that occurred for quite awhile well before any s/n law was enacted. I'm not sure why 2007 was such a banner year for not killing animals.

The numbers point to a multifaceted issue here. The numbers were already increasing w/o mandatory s/n. We know that kill rates, intake rates, relinquishment rates, adoption rates all rely on a host of variables. Just looking at these numbers isn't helpful without the statistical tools necessary to winnow down true cause and effect. I just wouldn't assuredly state that mandatory s/n was the sole reason or, possibly even the biggest reason, for the change in any data. We don't have any real statistical data to prove that beyond a shadow of a doubt (or at least with a 95% confidence interval!)


Ken/Rinalia, I think that it's fair to question what role the economy may have played in their numbers going up. I would imagine it played some role. That said, the economic situation has been pretty crazy everywhere, and I don't see anyone else showing anywhere near a 24% increase in shelter euthanasia.

The reality is that this increase would be fairly predictable with or without the economy if you look at what MSN has done in other places. Last year, Little Rock passed MSN for pit bulls only in an effort to reduce the shelter killings for pit bulls. While shelter killings for all non-pit bulls went down 3%, the euthanasia rate for 'pit bulls' went up 44% in the first 6 months.

Sure there were likely other factors involved there too, but I don't think we can deny the MSN factor as being a large player in it.

Rinalia, to your point on it starting earlier than the law taking effect -- I think is a good one. In Kansas City, we passed MSN for pit bulls in 2006. They passed the law in August, and it officially took effect in December to give people the opportunity to comply. Interestingly, our euth rates SKYROCKETED from July-November -- people didn't understand that the law didn't take effect until December and surrendered their dogs, or knew they couldn't afford to comply and surrendered them ahead of time. It was a mess. Heck, we saw a bump in intake just during the time that the city was DISCUSSING the proposal before it even got passed.

I don't think it's uncommon for people to know about a law but yet, not have a full understanding of all of the intricacies of the law like that it doesn't take effect for another 3 months. And I know this was an issue in LA because in their city audit that year of animal control, a major criticism was that they did a poor job of educating people about when the law took effect.

I'm open to a good discussion about other causes, but I don't think we can freely dismiss the role MSN has played in the increased intake and just blame the economy -- there is too much evidence out there that it does play a role in increasing intake to just completely dismiss it IMO.


Just to clarify, I didn't mean to suggest that it was all the economy. But, just as we hope that all factors are taken into account in assessing dog attacks and other negative issues, I think we should look at all factors here if the concern really is in addressing euth rates.


As far as the economy goes, all it really does is prove how misguided MSN is...people are really hurting financially and instead of spending time and resources HELPING these people get their pets altered lets CRIMINALIZE them and fill the already crowded shelter with more dogs when they aren't moving as fast because of the down economy.

If you support MSN you support killing as population control - end of story.


Honestly, I think mandatory spay/neuter IS the way to go.... I'd also support surcharges on veterinary procedures (say rabies shots $40 for neutered animals, and triple that for intact animals, with the diffence being shunted off to AC.... short term, ANY change is going to result in a "new crop of outlaws", and increased intake/euth rates - but REAL legislation, ENFORCED, can only help.



Out of curiosity, what evidence are you basing your decision on? Because dozens of examples of the failure of MSN laws exists - and yet I find it fascinating that people continue to support such laws even in the face of obvious failure.

At this point, the ASPCA, Best Friends, AVMA, No Kill Advocacy Center, American Humane and countless other organizations are outspoken against mandatory spay/neuter laws because they don't work and lead to more killing. So why do you think it IS the way to go?


Mandatory laws do not lead to more killing. They might not be affective, but there is no evidence they lead to more killing. You are putting stats out here without any reference point. Most of all, just because organizations like BF don't support these bills is not evidence that the bills don't work. It's evidence of groups that require high levels of donations to survive, and they don't want to alienate their donation base, which includes animal enthusiasts that are breeders.


"but there is no evidence they lead to more killing."

Re-read the post again.

Then read about the issues in Kansas City when they passed their breed-specific MSN:

Then read about the results in Little Rock, when they passed their Breed Specific MSN:

Then read this article from the No Kill Advocacy Center that paints a picture as to why these results happen:

You are welcome to feel any way you want about certain types of laws, and you are certainly welcomed (and often encouraged) to disagree with the large national organizations. But I find it unwise to completely dismiss the data just because you disagree with it.

A Beleaguered Doglover

FACTS: with the soured economy, surrounding Calif. counties uptake in surrendered/killed pets hovered around 12 - 14%. In Los Angeles' rigid mandatory sterilization locale, the increase was 28% - 38% pretty much immediately and has stayed there. By the way, their so-called exemptions are in name only, not doable in real life. All show dogs have been criminalized due to zoning laws required for same; i.e., kennel business licenses/breeders permits that never are given due to setback laws in this crowded metropolis. Any dog one would want that isn't a pit bull, pit-cross, chihuahua or chihuahua-cross must be obtained out of county: the above make up 70% of shelter dogs now.


Here's my perspective as someone who is actually in these neighborhoods daily and sees the reality of this - I teach in Downtown L.A. and the San Fernando Valley (in the areas where the law was passed) I can tell you that no one cares about mandatory spay/neuter. It isn't being enforced as I see the same dogs having puppies over and over and over and over for the past five years. They don't even KNOW that it's mandatory until I discuss it with them. All they know is that they make money off the puppies, which puts food on their tables. Yes, I've spoken with them and this is the answer that I'm given. I would say that I've had less than a handful take advantage of the free spay/neuter because they were tired of all the puppies. Those parents I spoke to because their children told me that they were tossing the puppies in the trash as soon as their dog had them. They were relieved to not have to worry about "the mess" anymore. No one in the low income neighborhoods that I teach in have turned their dogs in because it's mandatory that they spay/neuter them. They have lost homes and left them tied in the backyard, but I don't see this law affecting these areas at all. Economics are hitting them hard, but no one is enforcing this so it's a non-factor. So while I don't believe for one minute that this is affecting the kill numbers, I also have found it to be completely ineffective - a waste of a law. Brent has shown Kern County having success with going door to door and not criminalizing anyone. I feel that this is the only thing that will work in these communities. How can they adhere to a law they don't know exists? Why would they care to when no one is enforcing it?

I think it's nice to try to argue that numbers indicate mandatory spay/neuter kills but it's not even touching the areas it was meant for. Dogs are still in their homes. Dogs are still having litter after litter after litter. It's a wasted law.


I just wanted to amend it to add - Kern County model with registering dogs (not mandatory spay/neuter) because many of these dogs aren't even on the grid. Without going door to door and letting people know there is a law and there are organizations to help, things aren't going to change either way. Just my opinion based on my daily interactions in these neighborhoods.


Jennie, thanks for the overview.

In Kansas City, we saw the initial owner-relinquish because of the law right away (it actually began while the bill was being discussed and lasted for about 6 months). After that, pretty much the only people that weren't spaying/neutering were people who either couldn't (because of financial reasons) or wouldn't because of they wanted to make the money off of breeding. Certainly the law in no way helps the first group (outreach and low cost programs help with that) and the second group all ended up with their dogs confiscated (and killed at the shelter) and just went out and got new dogs and the cycle has been repeating now for 1/2 decade.

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