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« Two more cities repeal breed-specific laws | Main | Compassion (and have we lost it when it comes to people?) »

April 19, 2012



Sigh. I really don't like when people try to say that the mandatory spay/neuter has caused deaths in L.A. It hasn't. You know why? No one knows about the law and it is not being enforced anywhere. It's not costing dogs or cats their lives. The downturn in the economy is -- people are giving up their pets as they move into apartments because it's a convenient excuse to get rid of them. As someone in L.A. who is in these neighborhoods daily, I couldn't be a better source. No one is being penalized and it's VERY tiresome to see this attempt at linking these deaths to mandatory spay/neuter. Yes, it's a failure. No, it is not costing lives. It was poorly thought out and unenforceable. It isn't even being enforced. No one is showing up at the shelters and dropping off their animals because of the law. So how can anyone try to claim that this is why the deaths have gone up?

We're still seeing "Moving" being the number one reason upon intake when they aren't simply coming in as "strays" off the street. The myth that this is costing L.A. animals their lives dispelled, I do think this is a much better idea. Instead of continuing to discuss a law that no one but the rescue community knows about, let us encourage people to fix their pets (because we find that they do so willingly most of the time) and give them the resources to do so. But please stop blaming the deaths on this law. That isn't the reason pets are dying. It's time we stop trying to pretend that it is. We can show that it doesn't work based on the numbers increasing - it didn't reach the goal of less deaths. It also isn't increasing them.


There is no necessary causal relationship between the law and the number of pets being killed. There are too many variables to pinpoint a cause. Mandatory spay and neuter has proven effective where it has been properly implemented.

A jurisdiction that creates a law like that needs to have a plan in place to provide low-cost spay/neuter or they run the risk of having a lot of unlicensed and unvaccinated animals running around.

stephanie cauler

well this would be a failed attempt because of several reasons...
1. Either people did not know about the new laws or didn't care. then pomote the laws and get the news to the people
2. and if it the not caring part then law enforcment should start fining these people for breaking the law. It is manatory to have a licence or rabie shots.....start inforcing the law. give an insentive to have this done. ORCA helps with vouchers to help offset some of the costs of fixing these poor them a reality check of what happens to these animals that are dying every day because of these irresponsibility, show the gas chambers and the heartsticks make them aware and throw it in there faces this is what happens when they are irresponsible....

Bett Sundermeyer

1) It is curious that Best Friends is using the words "No Kill" for their organization's name. I thought they didn't like to use those words, prefering to use "No More Homeless Pets" instead.
2) It is too bad that they don't seem to be advocating using all 11 programs and services of the No Kill Equation since it has been proven that all of these pieces are necessary to stop the killing in shelters.



It's important to note here that Los Angeles is NOT an outlier in their numbers -- but indeed, these results are very typical of results in other areas. And I don't think it's fair to say that "no one" knows about the law -- when reports initially after the law was passed were that there was so much demand for low cost spay/neuter services that the city could no longer afford the high demand for low-cost vouchers nearly immediately after the law was passed (and worth noting that the most significant increase in the shelter intake and kill rates occurred in the first year of the law when awareness of it was at its highest). I find it impossible to believe that no one in a city of 4 million people is aware of the law even if it is unenforceable. It's also interesting to note that the 2nd highest increase came at a time when Barnette was pushing for increased licensing (which would require spay/neuter) in 2011.

Charlotte, I agree that there need to be more low cost spay/neuter services and targeted outreach. However, these types of programs work with or without a laws. The laws, at their best, only succeed when significant low cost services are available - -but at their worst, are disasters if the services aren't in place. The services themselves are the key to the success, with, or without the law.

I want to reiterate, Los Angeles' failure here is not unique to them -- but in fact, very consistent with the results seen in most other cities where it has been implemented.


Mandatory spay and neuter has proven effective where it has been properly implemented.
says Charlotte....

really? where?/



All I can tell you is that I spent last week at an elementary school in North Hollywood where one in forty pet owners was aware of this law. Yes, the communities are SO well informed. They're shocked when I tell them. Spay/neuter isn't anymore in demand now than it was before the law passed. These people either want it or they don't. They don't care about a law that they know nothing about. I'm out there five days a week. It's complete news to people when I speak to them. But guess what? My phone is ringing just as much now as it was in 2006 for low cost spay/neuter resources. This law isn't effecting anything because it's not being enforced.

People aren't dropping off animals because they found out they have to fix them. They're dropping them off as they lose their house. They're dropping them off when they move. The dogs are coming in as strays. The economy has effected the shelter numbers. Mandatory spay/neuter has not.

I think it's fine to say that it hasn't been effective because the numbers haven't gone - that's the ONLY accurate statement you can make about Los Angeles in terms of mandatory spay/neuter. I did a blog post on this precisely because it gets annoying when people who aren't canvassing these neighborhoods and don't speak with these people daily try to point to this as a reason for more killing. It's simply not true. The areas that it was targeted to reach aren't even aware of it.

Does mandatory spay/neuter work? No. I'm not going to argue that point because I agree. These people can't afford to fix their pets. I had a teacher tell me on Wednesday that he was quoted $1,000 to spay his female bull mastiff. So he hadn't done it. I gave him a list of resources and he'll get it done, but it's taking months to get in. When we set up our educational tables, as we did a few weeks ago, there is an incredible amount of people who come up to us specifically for low cost spay/neuter. In fact, the first day, we handed out it to over 50 people. None of them were aware it was a law. I'm all over this community year round - it just isn't known by anyone outside of the rescue community. Believe what you want but no one went into the spanish speaking community to make them aware. When we get to these areas, they are always shocked - and have plenty of puppies in their yards. They all have dogs, they're not giving them up and many aren't even breeding on purpose. I find it even sadder that most don't know their pets can have an operation that stops all of the "babies."

I just think you need to argue the only point you can prove - that it hasn't decreased numbers. Those of us who are in the community can attest to the other. Those of us that are there when pets are relinquished at the actual shelters can attest to the reasons that they are relinquished. Just because there is a push to do something (like licensing), doesn't mean that it gets done. There are 4 million people. Too many to get to.

It's an ineffective law, that we can agree upon. We do need more services and we need people targeting these areas. I shouldn't be the first time they're hearing about it in a two mile radius of downtown four years after the law is passed. Unfortunately, I am. Let's get billboards up letting them know that they don't have to have all those puppies - and directing them to resources that will help. And let's not put all of our eggs in that basket. Spay/neuter is only one aspect. We need to continue educating people on responsible pet ownership and making lifetime commitments to their animals.


so why not support the repeal of this ineffective law? One that makes criminals out of otherwise law abiding citizens like the teacher you mentioned. Each of these people you mention are now committing misdemeanor offenses by not having a dog castrated at an early age or at all.
Providing more services cost lots of money.. obviously lip service was paid in LA to push this through but the aftermath is a travesty..
question.. why should an intelligent person like a teacher have his bullmastiff spayed? Would you not consider that a person smart enough to teach our children might also be capable of having a natural animal?


Bingo, bestuvall and Brent...



No question that the law is more ineffective than either effective or harmful. But I still don't think you can completely dismiss the harm in it.

So, while acknowledging that you're doing outreach in areas where people are LESS likely to know about the law (and they've done little education, so I doubt education in Hispanic communities has been done at all), but let's take your numbers as a representative sample city-wide.

Let's say, 1 in 40 people actually knows about the law. In a city with 4 million people, that is 100,000 people who know. If 10% of those people know, want to comply, but cannot (which wouldn't be unheard of in a down economy), this would account for exactly the increase in dogs impounded year over year.

Again, not saying this is solely the reason for the increase, but it sure isn't helping, and even a small percentage of people who are aware or have the law enforced against them could mean a large number of animals killed at the shelter....which is exactly what is happening.


"Can You Neuter Your Way Out of Killing?"

Short answer is no. On April 19, Nathan Winograd noted:

"...the most important single act—and the crucial first step—in achieving a No Kill nation is for private citizens to demand the firing of the current leadership of most animal control shelters across the country. And to replace them with compassionate ones who reject killing as a method for achieving results.

The last five years have proved that. There are now dozens of No Kill communities across the country, some of which have ended the killing even before a comprehensive spay/neuter program has been put in place. Despite that, many animal welfare professionals and large organizations continue to sing the mantra that spay/neuter is not just the most important thing, it is the only thing that really matters.* They claim that the only way to achieve a No Kill nation is through a No Birth nation. But that view is factually inaccurate."


Okay, bestuvall stole my thunder:


Mandatory speutering hasn't worked anywhere! Of course people don't know about the law because people typically don't assume non-criminal behavior to be criminal.

Not only that why is the reproductive status of my pets ANY of the government's business? Good grief, government typically can't manage what they are supposed to manage, so why on Earth is it a good idea for them to stick their nose into people's personal business?

Not that I'm against programs that help pet owners with speutering, vaccinations, microchipping, etc. I'm all in favor of these efforts for those that need and request assistance, and my husband and I have helped with/donated to these causes. I've taken advantage of a couple of low-cost microchip events. But if I want help I will ask for it - and until them please butt out!

Los Angeles built a shelter (19 million dollars????) and then lacked the funds to manage it? Gee, sounds familiar. ;-)


The intake rates aren't going up everywhere - despite the horrid economy national intake is still going down. Did the economy help anyone - no. But to say LA's tanking economy continues to be the only reason intake is STILL going up doesn't pass the sniff test. Plus, the economy was tanking well before 2008 and has rebounded significantly.

While LA may not be actively enforcing / promoting MSN, its doesn't matter. The only time it really matters if anyone knows about LA's MSN is when AC shows up at their door.

Kat O

There's another way to slice and dice the numbers that you posted. The PROPORTION of dogs euthanized compared to the number brought into the shelter tends to be LOWER after 2008 than the average for the seven years prior. (Note: I did not check to see if the change was statistically significant.) It's also impossible to tell if other factors influenced the euthanasia rate. CORRELATION IS NOT CAUSATION. Just saying, don't believe everything you read - and be especially wary when people are throwing statistics around.

Year Intake Euthd Pct Euthd
2001 40442 22675 56%
2002 34295 17335 51%
2003 30605 12821 42%
2004 26949 9985 37%
2005 25740 8127 32%
2006 24999 6949 28%
2007 25792 6051 23%
*2008 30813 7518 24%
2009 31869 7624 24%
2010 33396 8210 25%
2011 35589 9452 27%



A Mandatory Spay/Neuter ordinance would have no impact on the outcome of a dog once it came into the shelter. MSN is supposedly supposed to control the animal population so fewer make it INTO the shelter. But once they get in, shelter operations, number of adoptions, etc will impact the % euthanized vs saved.

And yes, while I agree that Correlation is not Causation, I do believe that you can generally look for logical correlations -- and when those logical correlations appear again, and again across the country, I think there is a point of assumptive causation. While I'm not a fan of always assuming causation, I'm less of a fan of blindly hoping something will work in spite of evidence to the contrary.


You Know its not animals over populating the planet that is the problem, Its humans that are the problem, When you get right down to it Humans are the number 1 Problem So here is a simple question why arent there any mandatory laws to spay and neuter humans, Think about it
less Humans Less vehicles, Less vehicles less animals getting run over, as well as less animals being slaughter everyday for food.

Less Humans equal a better world no matter how you look at it.


The NKLA website listed reasons to spay or neuter your animal. To my surprise they did not list one of the reasons as "It's the law."

I just watched a TV broadcast from Dallas, TX. A mandatory s/n law was passed in Dallas in 2008, yet the news reporter never stated this. The story focused on an aggressive dog, and that many dog attacks are the result of unaltered male dogs. She mentioned that the city council was considering a bill to make spay/neuter mandatory.

It's sad and surprising that large organizations and the press don't even inform the public about local laws.

I'm currently researching this topic, and having trouble finding accurate stats for intakes and euthanasias at government shelters. If anybody can assist with Dallas, Waco, LA, Las Vegas, I'd be very appreciative.

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