Monday, December 8, 2014

Long Beach Spay-Neuter Proposal

Long Beach City Council
333 W. Ocean Blvd
Long Beach, CA
November 18, 2014

Dear Mayor Garcia, Vice Mayor Lowenthal and City Council Members,

The California Federation of Dog Clubs is an association of thousands of dog owners across the State of California. Formed in 1990, the CFoDC works tirelessly to promote animal welfare, educate the public regarding responsible animal ownership, and protect the rights of responsible animal owners. We administer a disaster relief fund, conduct breed ID workshops for shelter personnel, provide educational information on responsible pet ownership. We also man a toll-free assistance line for animal owners who need advice regarding pet training and behavioral issues. We support animal legislation with positive benefits to society.

We are concerned regarding the proposal on tonight's agenda which would require mandatory spay-neuter for the vast majority of pets in your city, and prohibit the retail sales of pets. Long Beach already has such a draconian process for breeder permits that it is doubtful that there is even ONE licensed breeder in your city, and now, this?

The CFODC is OPPOSED to the mandated sterilization of pets, regardless of exemptions. We are opposed to high fees and excessive restrictions for licensing and breeding permits. Some of the reasons for our opposition include:

  • The ASPCA, the No Kill Advocacy Center, the American Veterinary Medical Association, the American Kennel Club and many other animal welfare groups are OPPOSED to mandatory sterilization because it creates more problems than it solves.
  • Coercive sterilization laws and excessive animal-related fees result in increased shelter intakes and deaths anywhere they are tried. Fewer people will reclaim their pets due to high costs. Los Angeles has seen a steep rise in shelter intakes since implementing its own mandatory spay/neuter law. So has Memphis, Tennessee.
  • Mandatory sterilization is costly to enforce.
  • Revenues will drop, as owners will increasingly avoid licensing and forced surgery on their pets. There will be even LESS money for the needed enforcement.
  • Oppressive forced sterilization laws have resulted in increased incidence of RABIES in some areas, as owners who avoid licensing may also fail to vaccinate for rabies. This creates a dire risk to human health. Fort Worth TX repealed their mandatory spay-neuter law due to increased cases of rabies exposure.
  • Dogs are being smuggled in by the thousands now, from Mexico and other countries, to meet the demand for pets. Mandatory sterilization creates a black market for dogs and puppies. Black market pets bring rabies and parasites along with them.
  • Feral cats comprise the majority of shelter intakes, and sterilization mandates do not help feral cats. The only result is that Good Samaritans who care for feral cats are punished. Existing leash and confinement laws should be enforced. Sterilization does NOT prevent roaming.
  • There is no evidence to support the assertion that shelter intakes are caused by animals bred locally. Most puppies are sold outside of the local area where they are born.
  • Mandated surgery disproportionately punishes low-income families.
We urge you to REJECT any mandatory sterilization ordinances and instead focus on measures proven to work over the past thirty years….aggressive public education campaigns, trap/neuter and release programs for feral cats, and low-cost voluntary sterilization clinics.

The CFoDC is also OPPOSED to bans on retail sales of pets, regardless of exemptions. Pet sales bans encourage the growth of a totally unregulated underground market. This ordinance would, in effect, trade a heavily regulated business for a largely unregulated industry, the pet rescue industry. A sales ban would only hurt legitimate businesses and responsible, regulated breeders and do nothing to improve animal welfare. If implemented, this sales ban will not directly provide a home for even ONE shelter animal.

Sales bans create a shortage of desirable pets, a black market for dogs and cats, and a rise in imports from other countries. Many "rescue" groups are already importing dogs from overseas to meet the demand for pets. This is happening right now in southern California. A rescue group in LA imports dogs and sells them for hundreds of dollars each. Per the "Dogs Without Borders" website: "We currently rescue most dogs from local shelters and strays, but sometimes we rescue dogs from as far away as Taiwan!....Some of the dogs you see on our site are not here in the States."

There is ample evidence collected by the LA County Veterinary Public Health Dept, the US Customs and Border Patrol, and the Centers for Disease Control proving that a high and rising number of dogs
in the marketplace are being imported into the US for the rescue-shelter enterprise. More than 10,000 dogs enter the US from Mexico each and every year. Some dogs are imported for the rescue trade from as far away as Asia, Europe and the Middle East.

The practice of so-called "humane relocation" is not only outrageous, but is also very irresponsible on the part of the shelters/rescues that participate. There are diseases and parasites in other countries which are transmitted from dog-to-dog or from dogs to humans which put the safety of our citizens and our dog population at great risk. In late 2004, the first case of canine rabies in Los Angeles County in 30 years was confirmed. The dog had recently come in from Mexico. Rabies is a fatal disease that still claims over 50,000 human lives annually worldwide.

The demand for shelter dogs drives the importation of dogs for the rescue market niche. Helen Woodward Humane Society imports dogs on a regular basis from other states and even from other countries as far away as Romania into San Diego County. Bans on animal sales exempting "rescues" would exacerbate the spread of disease.

Claims of high incidence of illness in pet store puppies are totally unsubstantiated. Pets bred under USDA rules and regulations receive regular veterinary care. There is evidence that the pet industry provides more veterinary care for puppies than the public at large. DVM/VPI Insurance Group, the largest provider of animal health insurance, testified during a hearing in California that "preconceived notions" concerning pet store puppies "could not have been more wrong." After insuring more than 89,000 pet store puppies and kittens and handling health claims from a pool of more than 500,000 insured animals, the insurance company reduced its premiums for pet store puppies and kittens substantially by as much as 22 percent compared to premiums charged for animals from other sources. Why? Pet store puppies receive more veterinary attention during the first 12 weeks of age than any other puppies and, as a result, have fewer claims.

California law provides consumer protection for pets purchased in pet stores; however, shelter and rescue animals are exempt from health, safety and disclosure requirements and from the consumer protection laws which are required of traditional pet stores and breeders under the Lockyer-Polanco-Farr Pet Protection Act and the Polanco-Lockyer Pet Breeder Warranty Act. This proposed ordinance would eliminate consumer protection and would encourage the proliferation of unhealthy pets.

While many rescue groups do good work, none of them are regulated. Some animal rescue groups raise the animals that they sell under poor conditions, the very conditions this ordinance seeks to eliminate. Just last January, dogs purchased from a Simi Valley rescue/shelter operation came down with parvo within days of purchase. This operation, like most of its counterparts, offers no warranty nor is it required to by law. Veterinary bills for the purchasers of these rescued pets ran into the thousands of dollars. Consumers have no recourse when they purchase a rescued pet with health problems and resultant big veterinary bills.

A recent study revealed that less than 5% of dogs sourced from pet shops end up in an animal shelter. Commercial breeders are a legitimate source for healthy, well-bred animals. Shelter and rescued animals are a different matter, with unknown health, temperament, parasites and infectious diseases.

We urge you to reject these proposals that would institute counterproductive mandatory sterilization, oppressive animal-related fees, and the prohibition of the retail sale of pets by replacing them with unregulated "rescue" animals.

Sincerely yours,

Geneva Coats, R.N.
California Federation of Dog Clubs

CC: Robert Garcia, Suja Lowenthal, Lena Gonzales, Suzie Price, Patrtick O'Donnell, Stacy Mungo, Dee Andrews, Roberto Uranga, Al Austin, Rex Richardson



Trending—Despite Poor Record, Mandatory Spay/Neuter Proposals on the Rise
What do Pasadena, California; Augusta, Georgia; Madison, Wisconsin; New York City and the state of Rhode Island have in common?
Each of these places has recently advanced legislation to require that all dogs or certain classes of dogs within their jurisdictions be sterilized.
After what appeared to be several years of declining interest in mandatory spay neuter (MSN) policy by animal activists, AKC has observed resurgence in MSN proposals in the last several months, mostly at the local level.
MSN laws can take a variety of forms. They're regularly offered by activists as a quick fix for a myriad of canine issues ranging from dangerous dogs, to shelter intakes, to roaming pets, and even concerns about substandard kennels in other communities. Still, cities that have established MSN have not only found it to be ineffective; it has also created a host of new problems. For example, after Dallas, Texas, implemented MSN in 2008, the city experienced a 22% increase in animal control costs and an overall decrease in pet licensing compliance.  AKC Government Relation's Issue Analysis on Mandatory Spay Neuter presents more information on why MSN is ineffective.
Tragically, some activists push for mandatory sterilization laws even as mounting scientific evidence demonstrates that spay/neuter surgery (ovariohysterectomy and castration)— especially when performed on a young puppy—can have serious long-term negative health consequences. Recent scientific studies reveal that juvenile sterilization may lead to increased incidences of cancer (including osteosarcoma, hemangiosarcoma, lymphosarcoma and mast cell tumors), hip dysplasia, ligament disorders, chronic incontinence and even shortened lifespans. 1,2,3,4   These and other emerging studies contradict commonly-held beliefs about the effects of spay/neuter.
Ironically, many animal rights activists who push for government-mandated sterilization for all dogs also adamantly seek to outlaw minor procedures such as tail docking or dew claw removal. It's not clear why some find it logical to ban these minor procedures, but don't question passing  laws to require major spay/neuter—in some cases only a few weeks after a pup has opened its eyes and learned to walk.
According to the American Pet Products Association, 83 percent of U.S. pet dogs are already spayed/neutered. In many communities, local rescues and shelters have so few adoptable dogs available that they are importing puppies and dogs from other communities and states to offer in their facilities. Ironically, many of these communities are the same ones that are considering MSN.
Examples of recent legislation include:
The Pasadena, California City Council passed a law in November 2014 that would require the sterilization of all dogs and cats within city limits, with intact dog licenses for some exceptions. However, any dog impounded for any reason would be sterilized before release, even if the dog's owners had a valid intact dog license.
The New York City Council is currently considering removing exemptions for the health of young dogs from current MSN requirements for dogs purchased at pet stores or from breeders who sell more than 25 dogs a year. This essentially establishes mandatory juvenile spay/neuter for dogs sold at pet shops and takes away the rights of owners and future owners to make the best possible healthcare decisions for their dogs.
A proposed law in Augusta, Georgia, would require surgical sterilization of dogs six months and older unless the owner holds an unaltered animal permit. Certain dogs would be exempt, including "actively competitive" show or hunting dogs, and dogs with serious health conditions. However, the proposal states that advanced age would not be considered an exempted health condition. Intact dogs no longer actively competing would not be exempt from permitting. The permit could be revoked without due process of law upon receipt of information of any violation of the animal control ordinance—no conviction needed, just a complaint.
A proposal in Madison, Wisconsin, would allow the city's board of health to order a dog spayed or neutered for a variety of reasons if the dog is found running at large three times in its lifetime, or if a dog causes any injury to a person on while its owners property, with no exceptions for an animal that has been provoked.
And cities aren't the only ones considering such laws. A 2014 Rhode lsland House measure (HB 8205) would have limited all Rhode Island residents, with a few exceptions, from harboring any dog over the age of 6 months that have not been spayed or neutered.
The AKC recognizes the value of spaying and neutering mature dogs when the dog will not be participating in a breeding program or competing in events like AKC dog shows that require that the dog be intact. However, the decision to sterilize a pet—and when to do so—rightly belongs to the pet's owner after  consultation with their veterinarian.
For communities seeking to address dog issues, the best approach is to address the cause of the vast majority of these issues—irresponsible ownership—by enforcing leash laws,  supporting and promoting educational programs on dog care, and providing low-cost spay neuter clinics in the communities where such services are needed.  The AKC offers a variety of ways to help.
1 American College of Theriogenologists. "Basis for Position on Mandatory Spay-Neuter in the Canine and Feline."
2 Sanborn, Laura J., M.S. "Long-Term Health Risks and Benefits Associated with Spay/Neuter in Dogs." May 2007.
3 "Rottweiler study links ovaries with exceptional longevity." JAVMA News. February 18, 2010.
4 "Study finds neutering-disease link in Golden Retrievers."  JAVMA news.  March 20, 2013.




Sunday, December 7, 2014

Long Beach moves forward on MSN/sales bans

Despite letters of opposition from CFODC and other groups, and speakers against the proposal, this was the City Council's decision.

Recommendation to request City Manager and City Attorney to return in
90 days with a draft ordinance making it mandatory for dog owners to
spay or neuter their pets unless they possess a medical exclusion or
breeding permit from the Department of Parks, Recreation and Marine,
Animal Care Services Bureau;
Request City Manager to include recommendations for supporting the
successful introduction and implementation of the Mandatory Spay &
Neuter Ordinance, including but not limited to public education,
spay/neuter vouchers, mobile services and enforcement through
administrative citations and license canvassing; and
Request City Attorney to draft an ordinance making it unlawful to sell
dogs, cats or rabbits in any pet shop, retail business, or other commercial
establishment, unless they were (1) obtained from the city animal shelter,
humane society, or nonprofit rescue organization or (2) bred on the
premises possessing a breeding permit.

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