Les hommes ont oublié cette vérité. Mais tu ne dois pas l'oublier, dit le renard. Tu deviens responsable pour toujours de ce que tu as apprivoisé.
Le Petit Prince, chap. 21

Tuesday, 22 April 2014

Mandatory spay ordinance as the solution to San Francisco dog problem

Lang, D. (2013). A Mandatory Spay/Neuter Ordinance in San Francisco: The Solution to San Francisco’s Other Homeless Problem. Master's Capstone Projects.Paper 6. University of San Francisco

The dog overpopulation in San Francisco has been straining San Francisco’s Department of Animal Care & Control’s already limited resources with the increase in dog impoundments and animal cruelty cases, particularly ones involving dogs. At least 33 local governments around the United States have implemented mandatory spay/neuter laws for all dogs as a way to curb the companion animal overpopulation. San Francisco should adopt a similar mandatory spay/neuter law, in which all dogs over the age of six months, with certain exceptions, must be spayed or neutered. This will relieve the strain on Animal Care & Control, will save the City money, and will decrease pain, suffering, and even death among San Francisco’s dog population.

Humans have a responsibility to care for companion animals because we domesticated them and allow them to breed in a world where there are not enough homes for them. So humans should take action to decease breeding, especially accidental breeding, so as to decrease the population of unwanted dogs. This human action should be in the form of implementing a mandatory spay/neuter law, so the majority of dogs will be unable to reproduce and so that breeders are restricted to one litter per year to minimize their contribution to the companion animal overpopulation. Not only is spaying and neutering crucial to reducing the population of unwanted dogs, but it also has many health, behavioral, and societal benefits. Spaying and neutering will increase the health of dogs by reducing their chances of developing certain cancers; it will increase their life span; and it will increase public safety and public health byreducing aggression, making them less likely to bite, and reducing the number of stray dogs wandering the streets.

Even though most veterinarians, most members of the animal shelter community, and most animal welfare/rights activists agree that spaying/neutering is vital to decreasing the companion animal overpopulation, they disagree on whether spaying/neutering should be mandatory or simply encouraged. Proponents of mandatory spay/neuter laws argue that they will save local governments money, produce more revenue, and improve public safety and public health. On the other hand, opponents argue that low-cost spay/neuter programs are more effective at decreasing the companion animal overpopulation, mandatory spay/neuter laws punish poor people and will result in more companion animals being abandoned in shelters, they discourage people from taking their animals to the vet or to the animal shelter for fear of being reported to authorities for having an unaltered animal, they punish responsible companion animal guardians and breeders, they waste public resources, and they are difficult to enforce.

An analysis of shelter data from two municipalities—Clark County, Nevada, and Los Angeles County, California—that have implemented mandatory spay/neuter laws reveals that recent dog intake and euthanasia rates are the lowest they have been in the past two decades, indicating that these laws are successful at reducing the unwanted dog population. In 2005, San Francisco’s Commission of Animal Control and Welfare considered implementing a mandatory spay/neuter ordinance for all dogs, but it never went past Commission meetings. However, in 2006, San Francisco implemented a mandatory spay/neuter law for Pit Bulls, which resulted in a decrease in Pit Bull euthanasia rates. The success of this law can be partly attributed to the free spay/neuter services for Pit Bulls offered by the San Francisco Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (SF SPCA). Other free spay/neuter services for any breed of dog are also offered in various locations in San Francisco, which would help ensure the success of a mandatory spay/neuter ordinance for all dogs.

San Francisco should implement a mandatory spay/neuter ordinance that requires that all dogs six months or older must be spayed or neutered, with exemptions for dogs who are too old or sick to undergo the spay/neuter surgery and dogs whose health would be threatened by the spay/neuter surgery. In addition, guardians who do not want to spay or neuter their dogs must obtain an intact dog license or a breeding license. Animal Care & Control can enforce the mandatory spay/neuter law by modifying its dog licensing system to assign different colored tags for different licenses—regular dog licenses, intake dog license, and breeding license.

Furthermore, breeders must show proof that they have a breeding license by putting the license number on their advertisements or sales receipts, and they must be restricted to one litter per year and the number of unaltered animals they are allowed to have should be limited, as well, so as to not further contribute to the companion animal overpopulation problem. And finally, penalties for violations of the mandatory spay/neuter law should be civil, rather than criminal.

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