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« Helping low-income pet owners (& why pet retention should not be overlooked) | Main | New JAVMA study on the limitations of Breed Specific Legislation »

October 06, 2010


KC KS Kills Dogs

I don't know how much interaction some AW /AR folks have with people living in extreme poverty who are often times uneducated.

It's the assumption of AW/AR folks that everyone understands what the terms spay/neuter mean in the first place. Really, don't assume that people know and understand what those terms mean.

Secondly don't assume an already ineffective AC department is going to spread the word about the new law.

Third enforcement of this law like in many cities I have seen, means confiscation of the pet; not for neglect, not for cruelty, but for a pet owner who truly does not have any knowledge of what this law means even if presented with a written copy of the new ordinance.

I have never understood why we kill or confiscate (might as well be steal) well loved pets from poor people who just don't have the means to comply with the resulting fines on top of s/n that they can't afford in the first place. When these poor people's dog/cat is in the city pound they can't afford the bail, the tickets and they for sure cannot afford the spay/neuter surgery after all that.


What is SAD is how many animal welfare/lovers are supporting this crap and trying to get it passed in other cities... Let's give animal abusers more power to seize and abuse/kill more animals. What is WRONG with people?

Leisa CLark

Never ever should a pet have to be guys are the ignorant !! You give people an opportunity and a voucher to get the animal spayed. Otherwise they pay a fine.Often the less well educated only "Get it" when it affects their pockets.


Leisa -- unfortunately, reality doesn't work that way. If they can't afford to have the pet spayed/neutered (and cost is the #1 reason why people say they don't alter), then what makes you think they can afford to pay the fine AND pay for the spay/neuter? And then, what happens if they don't?

Eventually, either the law has to be completely unenforced or the pet ends up confiscated. I've witnessed it first hand in my own community -- and seen it statistically play out in others.

If MSN was such a great policy, why are all of the animal welfare groups now opposing it saying it doesn't work, and where are all of the successful case studies of it having the desired effect?


Many Animal Welfare advocates and particularly Animal Rights advocates believe people that can't afford expensive vet care can't afford to own a dog and *shouldn't* own a dog.

MSN is part of an elitist agenda to get dogs out of the hands of poor people. Not everyone has the animals' best interests at heart.


I agree with the blog. This law is awful. It's just another reason to take away and kill more pets. It creates a witch hunt mentality that will only lead to more deaths. With so few homes already avaliable why not help people keep their pets instead of killing them? Oh that's right, there are those extremists who work behind the scenes to end pet owenership, or at least leave it to a very elite few who meet their qualifications. What's next, mantadory sterlization of poor humans?


But .. but ... blanket s/n policies, whether mandated by law or by social pressure is NOT an animal welfare issue, it's an animal RIGHTS issue!

I am not against low cost s/n clinics, but if the point is to prevent litters - and I believe it most certainly is - then a much better answer for dogs at least is education. People no longer understand what drives dogs' breeding habits, but it's just not that hard to avoid litters without invoking invasive surgical procedures. If you do some research you will find that male dogs gain nothing by the neutering process, and face increased risks thereby, and that female dogs make only very minor gains, and also face considerable risks thereby. The risks for both include but are not limited to cancers that are more persistent and difficult to treat, incontinence in both genders, and possible temperment problems. Don't take my word for it; do some research.

I hope this law is overturned, because for many reasons msn laws are bad for us as well as our dogs, and letting it stand will cause considerable suffering to both man and beast which could be avoided.

M.E. Papin

Please note the difference between "Animal Welfare Advocates" and "Animal Rights Advocates". You are using these terms synonymously, and they are NOT the same. Animal Welfare advocates SUPPORT the human-animal bond and strive to promote species-appropriate care of animals, and education regarding responsible ownership of animals. Animal Welfare advocates SUPPORT community education efforts and low-cost spay/neuter options, are AGAINST MSN and breed-specific legislation. Animal Rights advocates want the elimination of all use of domestic animals ("better dead than owned") and push for mandatory spay/neuter programs ("one generation and out"), breed-specific legislation, limit laws, criminalization of breeding, and the elimination of food animal agriculture. This is an extremely important distinction. Please be aware!


M.E./Lynn -- I'm well aware of the differences between the common definition of "animal rights" and "animal welfare". I would also note that it has become very easy and commonplace to simply typecast people in one category or the other -- rightly or wrongly.

I think MSN is not one that is so easily typecast. There are are a large number of true "animal welfare" people who really want to believe that MSN works. THey see the mass killing at the shelter and really want there to be a simple solution like MSN to solve the problem (because the real solution involve a LOT of hard work and communities pulling together). It doesn't change that these people are wrong about MSN. It doesn't work. And they need to work harder to educate themselves on solutions that will easily work.

But simply typecasting anyone who favors MSN as being "an animal rights wacko" isn't really helping either....


I'm curious to know how many of you nay-sayers have been out in your communities doing the education you're telling the rest of us to do. How many of you have taken feral dogs and litters of puppies from the so-called poor people who love their animals so much they allow them to become pregnant again and again, allow them to have mange, heartworm disease and a vast array of other health conditions with no veterinary care? In case you haven't noticed, it costs money to own an animal... e.g. annual vet visits, heartworm prevention, flea prevention, treatment for as many ailments as humans can have. Absolutely, poor people should not own animals. Owning a dog is not a right, it's a privilege and a choice. The dog has no choice in the matter and cannot seek its own vet care. I have dealt with these "poor" people more times than I want to recall, and I have attempted to educate them, even spayed and neutered many of their pets on my own dime... only to have them call me 3 months later wanting to surrender the dog because it got too big or animal control won't let them keep it chained up in the back yard. It's not that they don't know about spay/neuter or even that they can't afford the low-cost options available to them. They simply don't give a damn. They want the dog chained up on their property to scare away burglars. Or they acquired the puppy at a flea market at the behest of a screaming, demanding child. They no more care about these dogs than they care about picking up litter in their own dilapidated communities. I took a litter of puppies from a family at a community yard sale. I told them I would take their dog to be spayed. I gave them my number, and, guess what, they never called too take me up on my generous offer. I have given "poor people" spay/neuter certificates I paid for, and they never bothered to use them. Why? Because they are lazy and apathetic. They don't want to lift a finger to take their dog to the vet. So until you've rescued 32 dogs and puppies from one trailer park, educating everyone along the way, only to see that trailer park overrun with stray animals and litters of puppies a year later, then don't tell msn supporters that we just need to do more education and more "helping" of poor people who don't give a damn. I have seen it first-hand. It doesn't matter if low-cost services are readily available, and if you tell them about these services or if you offer to pay for it and even transport the pet, they do not care, and many of them resent you for meddling in their business. They don't deserve to have animals, and I'm tired of cleaning up their messes and spending my life savings in the process. If you're so keen on on the human-animal bond, then get out there and get it done. If you say msn doesn't work, then get out there and make something else work, rather than just sitting there criticizing supporters of msn, the very people who have been doing the work you won't do. The only way to get poor people to spay/neuter their pets is msn. And if you're so short-sighted to think it's a bigger tragedy to kill 100 unaltered pets today than to kill 2000 of their offspring over the next five years, then you are not as smart as you say you are. Get off your high horse and get out there and rescue some dogs and puppies from poor people who can't afford them and who frankly don't give a damn.


Better yet, who among you msn nay-sayers will reimburse me the $619 I spent last week to spay a poor family's two pregnant dogs and treat the dogs mange and ear infections? ...and that was with the vet's generous "rescue discount." This family has six dogs and contacted us to rehome three of them. None of them is spayed or neutered. And even though they saw one of the males "stuck together" with one of the females, they didn't ask for help until the female was just a few days away from giving birth to six puppies that we had to euthanize during the surgery. And when we called to tell them we were bringing the dogs back to them, they wouldn't answer our calls. They don't want the dogs back. They just want us to solve the problem and leave them alone. And who among you will reimburse the $1200 spent on Rosebud, a dog who was living chained to a tree for breeding.. whose owner gave her up to animal control when he was told it was against the law to keep her chained to a tree? What do you think of the human-animal bond in that case? He didn't give a damn about the dog. He just wanted to sell her puppies. He didn't care if she was euthanized in the shelter. He didn't know or care that she was full of heartworms. But I cared, and it cost $1200 to save this dog and undo the damage of this one "poor" owner. How do you propose dealing with these people, if not msn? Tell you what... the next call I get about a chained dog or a family with six dogs wanting to get rid of three of them and three of whom are pregnant, I'll call you. What's your phone number? And how much money do you have in savings? Stop spouting off criticism until you've been in the trenches with me and paid the bills to save the discards of the poor people you love so much!



While I respect your passion for this -- all of the irresponsible owners in the world doesn't change the reality that MSN has never been an effective policy in solving the problem.

Are there people out there that shouldn't own pets? Sure. And I'm a huge proponent of strictly enforcing cruelty/neglect -- and reckless owner laws that target habitually problem owners.

The problem here is that you are so quick to use the term "poor" and "irresponsible" interchangably.

Sure, we could never kill another dog ever again if we sweepingly went through and killed all dogs tomorrow. But the entire attitude that we should kill our way to less killing just seems absurd.

And maybe go read my post from Friday:

Yes -- I'm helping clean up the mess too.

But just because there are pepole who are a mess, and just because there are many people who are working hard to clean up the mess, doesn't make MSN an effective policy.


I oppose MSN and I also serve on the Board of an organization that runs a low-cost spay-neuter clinic which recently celebrated its 15,000th surgery and expanded its free transport service to include two more communities. It uses the Humane Alliance model. Its been open for about three years and has impacted shelter intakes dramatically in the area where it is located. The clinic manager and staff do an excellent job of educating people (such as about the need to get all of their animals neutered, not just the females), some of whom live in trailer parks and have multiple unneutered animals, at least they're unneutered at the beginning. The clinic is a positive force and because of that it can serve as a place that educates people about responsible pet care over time. It collaborates with people to produce better outcomes for animals. MSN would take these same people as adversaries. It would punish them and the animals would mostly end up dead. That would make matters worse, not better. It would also not help anyone develop a better attitude towards animals or become a better pet owner.

If people have a sense that you detest or disdain them, your ability to educate them or be of much help to them or their animals will pretty much go down the tubes. I realize that it is easy to get frustrated when you see suffering day after day, but frustration is also a trap that limits your effectiveness. it seems to me that the blind faith in MSN of some people is born out of frustration leading to a desire to "hit back", but that won't lead to anything positive. It's steeped in the old "blame the public" system of thinking, the one that is to blame for shelter killing.


The county shelter where I live kills an average of 34 pit bulls a week. Do you think all of those pit bulls are simply a matter of people not educated on the multitude of low-cost spay/neuter options available to them? Seriously? No, it's the result of people acquiring dogs for the wrong reasons and having neither the desire nor the ability to commit to that animal's care for 10-15 years. It's teenagers buying puppies then failing to avail themselves of the low-cost vaccines to prevent parvo. It's people acquiring puppies then coming into a veterinary hospital with those puppies dying of parvo and expecting a handout of veterinary care to save their dog. This isn't just a matter of getting a dog spayed or neutered. It costs money to keep a dog or cat healthy. It costs a minimum of $800 to treat parvo. It costs a minimum of $800 to treat heartworm disease. And yet you still want me to buy into your belief that poor people should own dogs? Who's going to pay for the parvo treatment? Who's going to pay for the heartworm treatment? Who's going to pay to repair an injured animal's broken leg? You? Me? I should know... I've been faced with the dilemma far too many times in my work in a vet clinic. And who among you is going to vet and rehome 34 pit bulls a week? You? Do you have any idea how hard it is to rehome a pit bull? Do you know anything about the demographics of Memphis... about who, exactly, in Memphis is creating 16,000 animals that have to be killed in that city every year? Do you think those numbers are simply a matter of lack of access to low-cost spay/neuter? Who are you kidding? Those are people who have no interest in spay/neuter. Those are people looking to make a quick buck selling a litter of pit bull puppies. Those are people who acquire a puppy and don't think twice about dumping it at the shelter six months later. Come on down to Georgia, and I'll show you where msn would make a difference by making pet ownership a privilege, not just something that anyone can do. People who can't or won't spay/neuter their pets should not own pets. People who cannot afford routine vet care, heartworm prevention, flea prevention and treatment of disease or injury should not own animals. If you don't want my shelter to kill 34 pit bulls a week, then come on down and rescue them. If you think the shelter is to blame for not rehoming 34 pit bulls a week, then come on down and help rehome them. The shelter isn't creating 34 pit bulls a week on death row, the public is doing that, and the public needs to be held accountable and reigned in from the free-for-all it's been afforded for far too long. So, please, if you disagree, have the courage to email me, and I will forward you email after email of animals discarded like garbage by your beloved public that we would welcome you to come and rescue if you think you can do it. Email me. I will call your bluff so fast it'll make your head spin. Get off your soap box and do something about it ..without any help of restrictions on breeding or pet ownership. If you've got $800 to spend on heartworm treatment of a poor person's dog, you just let me know, and I'll tell you about a dog you can sponsor, then you come on down and pick it up and foster it and rehome it. Come on, folks, take the challenge. I will call your bluff. If you say MSN won't work, then show me something that will. I'm waiting. I'm waiting for you to solve this problem out of the sheer goodness of your heart and out of your own pocket. Good luck. [email protected]



I live in Kansas City, MO. Several years ago we instituted MSN for 'pit bulls' because we were killing so many pit bulls in our shelter.

Like Memphis, KCMO has a high poverty rate. While KCMO has upscale suburbs, many of them had breed bans that were further complicating the problem.

So the city decided to institute MSN for pit bulls to help end the killing. In the four years that have followed, our increase in the number of pit bulls killed in the shelter has been around 4,000 pit bulls INCREMNETAL following the law. It's not a soap box I'm on. It's about tracking the successes and failures of given laws and trying to help people to not recreate the failures of other cities (including my own).

So with that said, let me throw out an option. I'm not being sarcastic here, or trying to be mean. I'm throwing it out there for consideration (and because my experience here -- again, with a very high population of people in poverty, I think I "get" where you're coming from).

People with low incomes want pets. Most people like having pets. And by and large, if the option for the pet is either living in a poor home or being killed at the shelter, then the option of a pet living in a poor home is, in most cases, mutually beneficial.

However, if everyone at the shelter that is killing 16,000 pets a year shares your attitude on this, then in all likelyhood, the poor people who WANT pets are not going to be able to adopt them there. They'll be denied.

So, they end up with no other option than to buy a dog. Do you wonder how it is that the shelter is killing 34 pit bulls a week because "no one wants a 'pit bull'" and yet someone can "make a quick buck" by having a litter of puppies?

This is why.

As best as I can tell, denying poor people from owning pets a) keeps them from adopting YOUR pets but forces them to the back yard breeders and b) removes a pet from a current home, which they then eventually replace (because they still want a pet) them with one from a back yard breeder.

Some how, some way, the poor people you think shouldn't be allowed to own pets are going to be the solution to solving your problem of too many animals dying in the shelter. 25% of the population of Memphis lives below the poverty line. If you continue to deny them from ADOPTING pets, the cycle will continue. These people who you think shouldn't own pets are the people who you have to reach to solve the problem.


Yes, I know that high levels of poverty cause incremental problems. I get it. But I can say with 100% confidence what the end result of the MSN will be in Memphis...and many animal lives will be cost because of it.


As a matter of fact, I am in Georgia. I am aware of the large number of dogs labeled 'pit bulls' in Georgia shelters, including in metro Atlanta, and I am aware of the attitudes of those running the shelters, which I would describe as "piss-poor" for the most part. I am aware of the lousy customer service and animal abuse that results from said attitude, and from staffing the shelters with prison inmates. I am also aware that some shelters refuse to adopt out 'pit bulls' to the public (designating them 'rescue only') or at all, resulting in more dogs labeled 'pit bulls' being killed. None of these things are the dogs' fault, yet they pay the ultimate price. These things are under the direct control of the shelter director, and indirectly controlled by the public, which has to demand better shelter staff for the animals. The animals in Georgia's shelters need the No Kill Equation, which will give them a chance at continued life, not MSN, which will lead to more of them being killed by giving more power to the already tyrannically irresponsible shelter directors which infest the state.


Wow, I'm only half-way through Jennifer's first comment and can't help but pause to say that I've seen better off (not poor) people surrendering dogs for the same (lame & foreseeable) reasons that you're so upset about the poor using. I'm sure your main point is that they can't afford basic vet care, but geesh, making more money (and even having achieved higher levels of education) does not necessarily make you better at thinking through the decision to acquire a pet.

I'm also finding it wildly offensive that you are painting lower income pet owners with such broad strokes, seeming to imply that being poor = not caring about your pet. Sure, there are poor people who don't give a crap about their "pet" but that's true of higher income brackets too -- AND I don't think you can generalize it to EVERYONE in an income bracket. If that were true, then I guess I have to get lumped into the "all 'pit bull' owners are irresponsible idiots" group. This issue is considerably more nuanced than you've allowed for in your first comments.


PS. Brent, Jennifer's attitude/beliefs are exactly what I've been struggling to refute this summer. Logically, I know that "poor" people are going to have pets but it does bother me that so many of them can't afford basic care (food or annual medical), so I have a hard time making a logical argument for why someone should "subsidize" a "poor" person owning a pet.



If we were living in a time where we were not killing any animals in our shelter -- then I think there would be a fair discussion about whether society should subsidize someone else's pet ownership (and I think it could be an interesting dialogue of pros and cons).

However, our current reality is that we're killing millions of pets in our shelters every year. If the option for the animal is to live in a poor home (that we help subsidize its existence there), or death at a shelter, then I think we are morally obligated to try to help that animal (and their owner)in any way possible.

As a society, we spend millions upon millions of dollars trying to "save" animals once they get into our shelters, why would we not offer the same services to 'saving' the ones still in homes?


I agree with you, Brent. I'm just having a hard time having an intelligent discussion in support of my gut belief that (1) "poor" people will own pets and (2) it's part of my civic duty to try to make sure that even the pets owned by "poor" people should get basic care, even if it comes in the form of a subsidy. I just don't seem to be able to articulate myself very well on this particular subject.


Folks, I am not trying to be argumentative. But everything you all are saying directly contradicts the countless face-to-face experiences I've had with people I believe should not own pets. First, in response to the comment that poor people are the ones to adopt the animals from the shelter, I disagree. Have you visited the Pendergrass flea market in Jackson County, GA? Every weekend, pet dealers are selling puppies to poor people and people who don't even speak English and who will not spay/neuter their pets. How do you think the trailer park where I rescued 32 dogs and puppies became overrun with so many animals? From flea market sales. ..certainly not from those residents adopting spayed/neutered pets from shelters. The mentality among this demographic is to go out and BUY what you want. ..because it's not about saving a life, it's about buying something you want, and you want a cute little puppy. At adoptions a few weeks ago, a black guy came up to look at all the pit bulls we had for adoption, and he said "do you have any puppies?" And we explained that we didn't have puppies but that we had many adult dogs who were once puppies but were abandoned and now need homes. But he said he wants a puppy so he can train it the way he wants it. He's one of those kids who'll buy a puppy from a thug neighbor, not get it vaccinated, not spay/neuter it, then keep it chained up in the back yard or give it away because he's moving. And yes, I have seen a few instances of dogs adopted from shelters by low-income families. The majority of them are the strays that clients bring into the vet where I work, and we find they have a microchip from a humane society, and we try to reach the owner, and the phone number is disconnected or the owner says he doesn't want the dog back. Yes, my good friend has a dog she rescued who'd become semi-feral living out of a dumpster behind a grocery store. She spent months feeding him and finally was able to catch him. Guess what. He had a microchip, and she called the owner, and the owner said, "oh, no, we already have a new dog, we don't want Shorty back." Then there was the "chop-shop" junkyard where I rescued a pack of semi-feral dogs and 4 litters of puppies, all infected with scabies. The guy who owned the junkyard wanted all of the dogs there to guard the property. None of them was spayed or neutered or vaccinated. They all had scabies and a host of other health problems. He didn't care, and he wasn't poor. He was a rich guy. If we'd had MSN, that creep wouldn't have been allowed to have all of those unaltered dogs on his property, and there wouldn't have been 4 litters of puppies to rescue, and some of the puppies died before we could rescue them. One reportedly fell into the water bucket and drown. These are just SAMPLES of the stories I have... I could go on for 50 pages. And in all of the cases I've seen, MSN would have addressed the problem or prevented it from ever happening. Period. What are you all so afraid of? What would be wrong with a country where everyone is allowed to own pets, but they have to be spayed/neutered? Do you realize you are contradicting yourself when you say that the poor people are the ones who will adopt pets from shelters? Yes, perhaps they will, but they will pay an adoption fee, typically under $100. So if you say they can afford to adopt an animal from a shelter, then how can you say they cannot afford the low-cost spay/neuter options available to them for the pets they may already have that are not spayed/neutered? All of the low-cost options where I live, and there are MANY, are well under $100. And anyone who cannot afford an adoption fee or a spay/neuter for under $100 should not own an animal because they cannot afford routine vet care, heartworm prevention, flea prevention and treatment of injury or disease. It's just that simple. Bottom line, you will never convince me that MSN can't work because every case I've encountered in 15 years of rescue would have been solved or prevented by msn. Without msn, we don't have a leg to stand on. We're just praying for the day when the cretins of our society miraculously decide to do the right thing. And one more thing... in response to adopting out 34 pit bulls a week from my county shelter. We struggle to adopt out one a month from our rescue group!!!! How the hell are we going to get 34 a week adopted from the shelter? The only people who would want that many pit bulls are the people who only want puppies so they can "train" them and who definitely do not want their dog spayed/neutered... a spayed dog can't be bred, and a neutered dog can't win a fight. Please tell me how we save 34 pit bulls a week without stopping the cretins from breeding more and more and more.... and they will until we require spay/neuter.


notes by Stephanie Feldstein


Wow Jennifer. They may have been the most racist comment ever posted on this blog. How do you know that the black guy who wanted a puppy is just going to get a puppy now from his thug neighbor & not get it vaccinated and leave it chained to a tree.

If there are loads of Hispanic people BUYING dogs at the Flea Market - have you ever considered setting up an adoption event there with a spanish-speaker helping to educate them so that they can adopt an altered dog vs buying an unaltered one?

It sure seems to me that if the rest of the rescue folks share your attitude toward minorities and poor people, then the reason all of these people are buying unaltered puppies (and the reason there is so much demand for bred dogs) is because adoption isn't an option for them because they are minorities and poor - and maybe this is part of the reason your shelter is only adopting out one pit bull a month.

The reason I'm against MSN is because it has never worked anywhere - -and in most cases has led to increased killing. If you think MSN will work so well, there are dozens of cities out there that have it -- show me how it's succeeded. I'd love to see it. Show me the city that has stopped killing animals because they have MSN.

I've provided four links in the original story of examples where it has failed and actually increased intake and killing. I could provide more.

Nope the law will only cause more pets to be taken from owners. And, because the owner still wants a pet, they will go out and get another one. So you've now killed a dog at the shelter, created demand for more dogs, and the dog owner has yet another dog -- and the cycle continues. This is what has happened in all cases. Even Santa Cruz - which is everyone's case study for MSN's "success" is killing thousands of animals a year 15 years after passing MSN.

There are better alternatives that rehashing policies that have failed everywhere they've ever been tried.


"What would be wrong with a country where everyone is allowed to own pets, but they have to be spayed/neutered?"

What would be wrong with a country where everyone is allowed to have children,but they all have to be sterilized?

One generation and out.

How difficult is it for people to see the end result of forced sterilization?

There would be no more pets and no more children.

And please don`t say that only Pure bred animals or Pure Bred? people(Are there any?) should be allowed to reproduce.

Unbelievable that people think that`s a solution.

And no I`m not comparing children to pets but the result would be the same.

ZERO pets down the road but perhaps that`s what some want.

Air Jordans

So funny, I think.*

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