California Won?t Mandate Pet Sterilization

Spay/neuter bill would stiffen penalties for unaltered pets instead.

By Brian Hutchins | Posted: June 20, 2008 2 a.m. EDT

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California Won’t Mandate Pet Sterilization
Despite efforts by celebrities like Bob Barker, California's AB 1634 no longer mandates pet sterilization in most cases.
California Assembly Bill 1634, which would have essentially mandated cats and dogs in the state to be spayed or neutered, was significantly amended in the state’s Senate and no longer mandates pet sterilization.

Instead, the bill stiffens penalties for existing laws associated with nonspayed and unneutered dogs and cats. The amendment also strips the bill of its “California Healthy Pets Act” title and shifts the legislation from the Health and Safety Code to the Food and Agricultural Code.

Specifically, the bill would increase the fines to pet owners for intact cats and dogs impounded by animal control agencies from $35 to $50 for the first occurrence. For dogs, that fine would increase from $50 to $100 for the second occurrence and require spaying or neutering of the dog, at the owner’s expense, on the third occurrence.

Cats would need to be spayed or neutered at the owner’s expense following the second occurrence.

In addition, the amended legislation calls for an additional fine for intact animals when the owner is cited for another animal-related complaint, except for excessive noise or barking. The fines, which would be in addition to fines associated with the original complaint, would be $50 for first occurrence for cats or dogs.

Then, just as with the impound fines, that fine for dogs would be $100 for the second occurrence and would require spaying or neutering at the owner’s expense on the third occurrence.

Cats would need to be spayed or neutered at the owner’s expense following the second occurrence.

The fines can be waived if the pet owner can present written proof from a licensed veterinarian that the pet was spayed or neutered within 14 business days of the citation.

The amended legislation has been re-referred to the Senate Committee on Local Government.

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California Won?t Mandate Pet Sterilization

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Reader Comments

Lisa    Atlanta, GA

6/20/2008 9:12:01 PM

I'm sure that it was easier to get support for toughening existing law than to pass a new law.

John    Tucson, AZ

6/20/2008 11:12:24 AM

Seems like a reasonable approach. It would be completly impossible to enforce a law mandating sterilisation. The only people who would comply would be those who would have sterilised their animals anyway. There is a huge element in our society that really does not care and will do what they want, law or no law. Enforcement of this new law, however, hinges on the pet owner getting caught for some other offense. Better than nothing and perhaps the most workable solution.

Kristen    Phila, PA

6/20/2008 8:29:46 AM

As a rescuer, I see countless examples of irresponsible owners abandoning intact animals to life on the streets - Its a huge problem and spaying/neutering should be mandated, it would help the homeless animal population immensely!

Elizabeth    York, PA

6/20/2008 6:28:32 AM

The law is still too strong. It should be up to pet owners if they want to have their cats or dogs neutered - although they should realize that their pets will live healthier lives if they are neutered and decide to do it on their own.

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