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« Nevada passes bill prohibiting breed-specific laws, & Connecticut set to follow | Main | Very Good Sentences -- Poverty Porn »

June 06, 2013



Fabulous work, Mr. Toellner!


"In 2005, Kansas City, MO passed a law mandating the spay/neuter of 'pit bulls' in an attempt to reduce the killing of pit bulls at the shelter."

I must take umbrage with you here good sir. They had no such altruistic intent. This was so they could "do something" in the middle of the great pit bull panic of ought-5 without going so far as to enact a ban. Or as one city official put it to me "this is so we can get those 'gangsters' who breed pit bulls in their back yards" (define the word "gangster" as you will).

but great article.



Bonnie Carollin

I agree that services Must be in place with a well planned timeline for implementing MSN thereafter.
I also know that unfortunately one size does not fit all and that there are communities were MSN is going to have to be given more weight.


Yes Anthony. You are correct from the city perspective. I think many in the animal welfare community supported it because of the more altruistic intent which made it harder for those of us who stood up against it at the time to win out on that too.

Bonnie, I want you to read through the "cause & effect" portion of this again. Unless you can come up with solutions that don't end up, when played out in the end, with pets being removed from homes and taken to the shelter in the name of implementing a law designed to keep dogs out of the shelter, then I'm hard pressed to believe that MSN will ever be effective....given that it never has been. I'm not a huge believer in trying things that have failed other places and thinking that I'm some how smart enough to make them work when others haven't.


Another very negative result of MSN for Pit Bulls (and likely all breeds) is that breed devotees, wanting to ensure the future for their breed and wanting to put their carefully selected and well-bred puppies on the ground are panicked into breeding that litter for fear of their bloodstock getting a desexing order.
These people likely would have waited until they had safe homes lined up and until they were financially ready for the significant cost of producing a healthy litter.
The puppy millers, on the other hand, don't give a toss about the breed since they are in it for the dosh not the dog and they will continue pumping out the breed on the back of the massive free global ad campaign courtesy of an irresponsible sensationalist media that makes these dogs desirable to the most undesirable owners.
Just bad news all round.

Gwen Lebec

So - given the problem of growing rivers of pit bulls, not enough homes that want to adopt them and the public and elected officials getting tired of dog attacks of people and pets - what is the answer?

Judging the success or failure of Mandatory SN laws over the immediately following few months does not seem like a good test. Perhaps the increase is due to macho dog fighters dumping their dogs as they don't want neutered ones? Without knowing who dumped their dogs and why each owner made that choice you are not really assessing whether this was better or worse for the dogs - and as usual for pit folks - you don't even consider the possible human safety benefits.

So if this is not the solution - what is? Come up with one if you are so smart.


There IS a solution: providing low cost or free spay neuter, to anyone whoi wants it. That's the solution. It's not really that hard to figure out. Why people keep trotting out the same ideas that aren't effective --like mandatory spay neuter-- is a mystery to me. In areas with poverty, providing low cost pet services is the key to keeping pets IN homes, and out of shelters.


1. mandatory S/N and free S/N are not mutually exclusive

2. underlying the reasons/excuses people give for not altering their pets is their own personality flaws and issues which also correlate with poverty, you give these people too much credit, many are impervious to education, they simply don't care/on drugs/etc

3. you might be right that the data of others is flawed, in this context esp., but you counterpose that with stating that you saw something and it was awful, which is not data at all

4. to parse short vs. long term effects, and be rigorous, HSUS or others should hire a neutral statistician to construct a population model that can be run under various scenarios and information extracted from it. this is what is done when different practices are proposed for wildlife. a model like this would include parameters for dog population, dog birth rate, dog death rate, dog euthanasia rate, increase in abandonment if S/N is mandatory, etc. you could then play around with these parameters within best guess ranges and under extreme scenarios and get a much better handle on what will happen X number of years out and the aggregate suffering prevented or caused by any policy.

But I'm idiot and don't understand anything, so you should ignore my differing opinion, and delete this comment, Brent.



Again, reading comprehension eludes you:

1) As I mentioned in the post, if you have adequate, efficient, low-cost resources, you will solve the problem with or without the law. The law without the resources is disastrous and it can only work if the resources are in place. ergo, there no reason to pass a law as it can only hurt and, when enforced and followed to its end, can only result in homed animals being taken into the shelter, which is counter-productive.

2) Outside of being completely classist, your statement is inaccurate and out of touch with reality.

3) Yes, and then I proceed to provide very detailed information on what happened in Kansas City, where I live, with hard data that I witnessed happen.

4) Even if you could somehow prove there were significant long-term benefits to such laws, the idea of killing more animals now to avoid killing them later is unethical and immoral. So with such significant evidence showing that the short-term effects are overwhelmingly negative, and in light of short-term solutions that have proven themselves effective, the idea of commissioning a study to try to justify increasing short-term killing instead of other viable options is hardly worthy of study.

I at least agree with your concluding paragraph.

Gwen Evans

I agree with you. The main reason people don't have pets spayed or neutered is that they can't afford it. Any community that makes it mandotory should have available LOW cost spaying and neutering. Please have a spot on your column if possible to be able to email your column to others.


Brent, you should definitely delete this after reading it so as to create the impression you would like.

"The law without the resources is disastrous and it can only work if the resources are in place."

How could mandatory and free SN be disastrous? You would SN the animal and then give them back to the owner.

"Even if you could somehow prove there were significant long-term benefits to such laws, the idea of killing more animals now to avoid killing them later is unethical and immoral. "

Increasing euthanasia rates temporarily so as to decrease total euthanasia amounts over the long term is immoral?

We have different ideas of morality then.

It seems you aren't even interested in actually understanding the what will happen under various scenarios. Your mind is made up.

"Outside of being completely classist, your statement is inaccurate and out of touch with reality."

Brent, you honestly think that people with unaltered animals that answered the survey weren't relatively likely to be laboring under other difficulties besides lack of funds?

This part seems to back that up.

"People didn't know about the law and didn't know about the services."

I'll cope to being a classist, by your definitions. It seems stating anything about average tendencies among various socio-economic classes is a grave error. Wealthy people are more likely to be intelligent, responsible, and aware as those traits usually lead to resource accumulation. There. I've said it. I've stated the obvious.



You're reading comprehension is really, really pathetic -- and I think, mostly, because you're mind is made up and you'd rather try to argue than actually have a conversation.

One more time:

The law, without the resources, is disastrous. If the resources exist, there is no need for the law, because it works wonderfully without mandating it. Under the mandate, if someone decides they don't want to comply, there is absolutely no form of enforcement of the law that doesn't lead to animals with homes being brought to the shelter. Bringing animals with homes into shelters is counter-productive to the goal and then increases demand for bred pups.

Increasing killing now, to lower killing later is immoral and unethical because THERE ARE OTHER PROVEN METHODS OF TACKLIING THE PROBLEM THAT DON'T INVOLVE SHORT TERM SLAUGHTER. So yes, if you think killing them now is ok, then we have a different idea of what is ethical.

I called your statement classist because of your decision to imply that people with low incomes were likely to be on drugs.

Given the fact that you continue to have such major reading comprehension issues, and clearly have a false sense of ethics, expect the rest of your follow-ups to be deleted.


Thank you so much for writing this blog I agree with you 100% they should not pass a msn. In my opinion it will also caus those who didnt have the mony to s/n to dump unplanned litters and /or dogs on the side of the road for fear of getting a ticket they cannot pay and going to jail. Also the other comment above stating that it would not increase the kill rate because if they animal is seized and S/N the animal would be returned to the owner,is wrong they are assuming the owner can afford to pay the fines,fees associated with the impound and s/n of the dog which many cannot. In addition I believe it will cause an overal increase in dog bites from pitbulls at large due to improper socialization and lack of exercise for those hiding their intact dogs away from authorities,and with an active breed like this it spells disaster. Overall I think in the end Mr Boks would like to outlaw the breed altogether.


Sooner or later we'll legislate our way to a risk-free utopia!


There's another downside to MSN that I haven't seen mentioned yet. ACO's are part of a beaurocracy. They are expected to produce a certain amount of work to justify their position, and being human, they will pick the low hanging fruit if it is available. Why would a probably lazy government employee spend their time running, sweating, chasing down a dog running loose, (that may be a real danger to the public) when they can just grab a dog contained in a yard because they saw a set of testicles? This is pretty much how it works in KCK.

PAMM - People Against Murdering Morons

The citizens of Prescott and Yavapai Humane Society donors should be outraged that the Board of Directors hired Boks, who is a complete and utter fucktard. They should all be kicked off and replaced with people who don't have their heads completely lodged up their asses.

mary mahoney

Thank you for another easy to follow and logical blog - I refer lots of people to read what you have to say. I like the comments too, even the self-described "idiot"...your response to the "idiot" show once again what a kind and patient man you are.

John Richardson

A very general fact about laws: Coercive measures almost NEVER deliver the promised benefits and often create other problems.

My shelter euthanizes more Pit Bulls and Pit Mixes than dogs of any other breed or mix. We also adopt out more Pit Bulls and Pit Mixes than dogs of any other breed or mix. More Pit Bulls and Pit Mixes are reclaimed than dogs of any other breed or mix. And more Pit Bulls and Pit Mixes go to rescue than dogs of any other breed or mix. Pit Bulls are really common. Cats even more so. We'd all like to see the numbers moderate, but if you can't come up with a better plan than the mere incantational magic of passing laws that are almost impossible to enforce in the most serious cases and which create other problems besides, you frankly don't belong in the discussion.


This is a great post. I'm surprised to still hear shelter directors promoting the idea of mandatory spay/neuter.

A shelter director in my area suggested mandatory s/n when I asked her for ideas on how to save more shelter cats. She had good intentions but did not understand the actual effects these laws have on pets and their owners.

This post be a good resource to share. Thanks for writing it.


So tired of the "can't afford it" excuse. If you are not prepared or capable of the expense of having a pet you have no business having one. It is not a t.v. or cellphone, it's a living thing that will require medical attention at times.



And I'm tired of the elitist attitude.

While I don't have statistical data for this, based on the people I talk to both in low-income neighborhoods and who do outreach in these neighborhoods, many of the folks who own pets there didn't just run out and buy their pets. Most obtained them either by finding them as a stray, from a friend who could no longer care for them, or because they were abandoned in a home in the neighborhood. They took them in because it was the right thing to do.

It seems very appropriate to me to help these folks who are actually HELPING the problem by taking animals in and caring for them.

Meanwhile, several years ago, one of my dogs tore both of her ACLs. The cost for the surgery, and rehab, cost about $7000 for both knees. There are a LOT of people who can't afford this type of medical attention. In fact, most can't.

Pets bring value to our lives. They bring companionship to us and prevent loneliness. They encourage us to get outside. And people with pets are generally healthier than those without. Kids also learn compassion from pets (as do adults, as evidenced by many of the successful prison programs).

And remember, we're just talking about altering here -- which is only about $300 or so -- but it's completely elective and not required to have a healthy/happy pet. We WANT them to spay/neuter -- but that's not to be confused with a necessary pet expense like paying for food.

I'm tired of the attitude that the privilege of pet ownership should only be available to people of means. It's elitist. And wrong.


Thank you, Brent. Your response to Brom was much appreciated.

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