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Compulsory neutering gets green light in LA

THE LOS Angeles City Council unanimously announced its support last month for a state bill that would require pet owners to sterilise their dogs and cats by the time they reach four months of age.

Bill AB 1634 was introduced by Assemblyman Lloyd Levine (Democrat-Van Nuys district), as part of an effort to decrease euthanisation rates of unwanted pets at animal shelters state-wide. Known as the California Healthy Pets Act, the Bill seeks to require the mandatory spaying or neutering of all dogs or cats over four months of age, unless the owner acquires an ‘intact animal permit’.

A violator would receive a ‘fix-it’ citation, requiring the pet owner to sterilise their cat or dog within 30 days, or up to 75 days with a note from a veterinarian. Those who fail to comply would face a $500 fine.

Funds raised from the fines would be earmarked for enforcement and low- cost pet sterilisation programs. The proposed measure would allow local municipalities to make exceptions for breeders who can demonstrate their pets are purebreds listed on one of several registries.

The Bill has received widespread criticism from many canine enthusiasts. The American Kennel Club has set up a special section on their official website to combat the Assembly’s plans. An AKC statement says: ‘It is imperative that breeders and concerned dog owners contact their Assembly member and the committee chairman to express their opposition.

‘The American Kennel Club strongly supports reasonable and enforceable laws that protect the welfare and health of purebred dogs and do not restrict the rights of breeders and owners who take their responsibilities seriously.

‘We oppose the concept of mandatory spay/neuter provisions as provided by AB 1634, which:

•Makes it a civil violation for any person to possess a dog or cat over four months of age that has not been spayed or neutered.

• Requires owners of unaltered purebred dogs to annually acquire an intact animal permit from their local jurisdiction. The cost of the intact permit would be determined by the locality. Responsible dog owners could be required to pay unreasonable and punitive fees, possibly amounting to hundreds of dollars.

• Does not provide exemptions for dogs temporarily entering California for show, competition, or exhibition.’

The LA City Council vote was 12-0, with only three members absent from the meeting. Assemblyman Lloyd commented: ‘The Los Angeles City Council's action should send a clear signal to all Californians that AB 1634 is a huge step forward in the drive to combat pet overpopulation and to reduce the killing of hundreds of thousands of animals in California's shelters every year.

‘Mandatory spay and neuter programs have proven to be smart, sensible, compassionate and effective approaches wherever they have been tried.’