Wednesday, October 12, 2011
Chula Vista considering MSN proposal
Mayor and City Council Members
City of Chula Vista
276 Fourth Avenue
Chula Vista, CA 91910
(619) 476-5379 Fax
Dear Mayor Cox and City Council Members,
The California Federation of Dog Clubs, founded in 1990, represents thousands of dog owners across our state. We are dedicated to the promotion of responsible dog ownership and to protecting the rights of responsible dog owners. Among our current projects are implementation of a breed identification workshop for shelter workers, distribution of a dog care and training brochure for new owners who adopt from a shelter, and establishment of a 1-800 help line for pet owners struggling with behavior or training problems. We also maintain and administer a relief fund for animals affected by disasters such as earthquakes or fires. We are active in support of animal legislation that provides positive benefits to society, such as CA SB 390 (LaMalfa) and CA AB 258 "Molly's Bill" (medical exemptions for rabies vaccination), for which we are a co-sponsor.
It has come to our attention that the city of Chula Vista is considering a mandatory spay-neuter ordinance. From your city's website:
The Chula Vista Animal Care Facility encourages owners to always spay and neuter their pets. There is a serious pet overpopulation problem in San Diego County that has resulted in thousands of euthanizations each year.
The fact is that euthanizations in San Diego County are down significantly. In 1998, 15,474 dogs were killed in San Diego County shelters. By 2010, that number has dropped by nearly 70%, down to 4862. In 2009, there were only 371 dogs euthanized for the year in the entire county of San Diego. Remember, some of these euthanized animals were severely injured, sick, aggressive, or otherwise not savable. Clearly, great progress is being made in the reduction of euthanization of adoptable animals, and success has been possible without the use of coercive legislation.
"A serious pet overpopulation problem in San Diego County"? There is absolutely no evidence to support that assertion. There are over 3 million residents in San Diego County. Let's put the figures into perspective. Last year, one animal entered a shelter for every 63 residents. One dog was killed for every 637 residents. One cat was killed for every 327 residents.
When animals are killed in shelters, it cannot be reasonably blamed on "overpopulation." In fact, the US Border patrol estimates at least 10,000 puppies are smuggled into San Diego County each year from Mexico.* More than DOUBLE the numbers that are killed in shelters. There is a market for pets in San Diego and spaying/neutering all the local dogs and cats will remove the best sources for healthy, well-bred and well-socialized animals. People won't own less pets; they'll just get them from somewhere else. Your mandatory spay/neuter proposal would only serve to increase the black market demand and to promote the breeding of dogs in foreign puppy mills.
While the goal of reducing deaths in animal shelters is laudable, mandatory spay-neuter laws don't help. In fact, the opposite is true. Every locale that has enacted a mandatory spay/neuter law has seen a RISE in shelter admissions and killings.
San Mateo County's Peninsula Humane Society, which spearheaded the nation's first "breeding ban" in the name of reducing shelter deaths, did not have the expected success with that approach. In the areas of the county where the ordinance was implemented, dog deaths increased by 126 percent, while cat deaths went up by 86 percent. Licensing dropped by 35 percent.
Fort Worth, Texas repealed their mandatory spay and neuter law as licensing and compliance plummeted, and cases of rabies increased.
Memphis passed a mandatory spay and neuter law last year. Since then, shelter intakes have risen 8% in that city.
Los Angeles is another case in point. After decades of steadily declining shelter numbers, LA reversed the good trend in one fell swoop with enactment of a mandatory spay and neuter law. Intakes and deaths immediately rose by over 30% and continue in an upward spiral.
No mainstream animal welfare organization supports mandatory spay and neuter. The American Veterinary Medical Association opposes it. So does Best Friends Animal Society, American Humane Association, Maddie's Fund, Alley Cat Allies, the American Kennel Club and the No Kill Advocacy Center. The ASPCA also opposes mandatory spay neuter, saying:
"The ASPCA is not aware of any credible evidence demonstrating a statistically significant enhancement in the reduction of shelter intake or euthanasia as a result of the implementation of a mandatory spay/neuter law."
Mandatory spay and neuter does not work because it does not address the reasons that animals enter shelters. Those reasons are varied, but they have nothing to do with births. Animals enter shelters due to social problems like loss of a job, home foreclosure, or divorce or death of the owner. Mandatory spay/neuter does nothing to help pets remain in their homes. Ownerless cats make up a large portion of shelter intakes and spay-neuter laws won't reduce the numbers of feral cats. Trap-neuter-release programs are proven methods for feral cat population control.
Sometimes there are behavioral issues for which training programs might provide a useful solution. To help get more animals adopted, shelters could implement more proactive ideas like extended hours, foster programs and off-site adoptions. Advertising campaigns can help educate prospective pet owners to consider a shelter animal when they are thinking of getting their next pet.
Besides, a recent national pet population survey reveals that 78% of owned dogs and 88% of owned cats are already sterilized. The public is cooperating with voluntary spay and neuter...in droves! Voluntary, low-cost sterilization clinics have been very successful. We believe that voluntary, collaborative, supportive and science-based programs always outperform programs that are punitive and coercive. We urge you to reject any mandatory spay/neuter law. Such ordinances are not in the best interests of pets or their owners. Please feel free to contact us if we can be of any further assistance.
Geneva Coats, R.N.
California Federation of Dog Clubs
CC: Cheryl Cox, Patricia Aguilar, Pamela Bensoussan, Steve Castaneda, Rudy Ramirez
From "Maddie's Fund" website:
"Saving all of our healthy and treatable shelter dogs and cats by 2015 is more than possible - we're almost there!"
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