AKC News

Press Center
More Headlines

URGENT: January 13th Riverside County, CA to Consider Spay/Neuter and Mandatory Microchip Ordinance

(Monday, January 12, 2009)

The Riverside County Board of Supervisors will hold a hearing tomorrow morning at 9 am to discuss an ordinance that would require the spaying/neutering of any dog or cat for even a minor violation of the animal control ordinance and would force pet owners to microchip all their animals and register the microchips with the county. It is vital that responsible dog owners and breeders attend the hearing to oppose this measure.

Provisions of the Proposed Ordinance

  • Requires that all dogs and cats be spayed or neutered unless the owner has purchased an intact animal license. Current law requires owners to license their pets and mandates that the license fee for an intact animal be twice that for a sterilized animal. This will not change under the new ordinance. However, keeping that license would become much tougher.
  • Any animal that is picked up at-large will be required to be spayed/neutered prior to being returned to the owner. Any violation of the animal control ordinance can trigger a requirement that the animal(s) be sterilized. A few of the examples used in the ordinance include failure to posses a current rabies vaccination, failure to license, leash law violations, animals left unattended in a car and failure to provide adequate care.
  • A dog would have to be spayed/neutered if there are 2 complaints, verified by the department that the dog has run at-large, or the owner is found to be neglectful. (AKC staff is concerned at the vagueness of this language. It does not appear to require that the owners be cited for the alleged violations or that the owner is convicted of animal cruelty charges.)
  • If an owner has one intact license revoked, they can have all their intact licenses revoked. Therefore, it is reasonable to assume if one dog was picked up at-large and sterilized, then all dogs owned by this person would be required to be sterilized.
  • There is no exemption for dogs picked up at-large that do not reside in Riverside County. If a fancier were in town for an event and their dog somehow got loose, it would only be returned after being spayed/neutered.
  • Requires that any advertisement for the sale of an unaltered dog or cat include the intact license number for that animal. Since animals are not required to be licensed until they are 4 months old, it is unclear how this would impact the sale of puppies younger than four months.
  • Requires that all dogs and cats be implanted with a microchip and that the microchip be registered with the county. Exemptions are provided if a veterinarian states in writing that it is dangerous to the animals health or would negatively impact the animal’s athletic abilities. Animals that are kenneled or trained in Riverside, but whose owners do not live in the jurisdiction are not required to implant microchips.

This ordinance would require the sterilization of any animal that was picked up by animal control, even on a first offense. This is unreasonable as even responsible owners can have an animal escape due to a mistake by a meter reader, gardener, friend or relative leaving a gate open. We agree that steps should be taken to address owners who habitually allow their animals to run at-large, but such a severe response is not justified by a single incident.

This issue is one of utmost importance to those who participate in our dog shows and events. In 2008, almost 14,000 responsible dog owners participated in 75 AKC-approved events held in Riverside County. When you take into account what these participants spend on hotel rooms, gasoline, food, souvenirs and entertainment, the revenue generated by these events is easily over $7 million annually. Clubs will be reluctant to hold events in an area where an escaped dog would be sterilized on a first offense. Passage of a mandatory spay/neuter ordinance in Riverside County would send a clear message that AKC events are not welcome in the community.

The AKC opposes the concept of mandatory spay/neuter of purebred dogs. Instead, we support reasonable and enforceable laws that protect the welfare and health of purebred dogs and do not restrict the right of responsible breeders and owners. Mandatory spay/neuter is an ineffective solution to animal control problems because it fails to address the heart of the issue—irresponsible ownership. These laws are extremely difficult to enforce and can be evaded by irresponsible animal owners who won’t licensing their pets. This proposed ordinance will unfairly punish responsible owners who are already complying with local animal control laws, while irresponsible owners continue to make problems for the community and local shelters.

The American Kennel Club also opposes mandatory microchipping. As part of our ongoing efforts to promote responsible dog ownership, the AKC encourages dog owners to properly identify their pets. We believe, however, that the final decision about identification—whether by collar, tattoo or microchip—should be made by the owner, not the government.

What You Can Do

Attend the Board of Supervisors Meeting January 13th
9 am, Tuesday January 13th
Board Chambers
4080 Lemon Street
Riverside, CA 92501

  • Riverside residents, send a letter to the Supervisor who represents your district. Please click here for a sample letter. Remember that this letter must be personalized and you need to include your full name and mailing address so you will be recognized as a constituent. To find out who represents you, please click here http://www.rctlma.org/districts/.
  • Fanciers who have traveled to Riverside to attend dog events, please personalize this sample letter and send it to the members of the Board of Supervisors
  • Club Officers please have your club author a letter opposing this ordinance and send it to the Supervisors listed below. A sample letter to personalize can be found here.

Riverside County Board of Supervisors

Mailing address for all supervisors
4080 Lemon Street - 5th Floor
Riverside, California 92501

Roy Wilson, Chairman (District 4)
Tel: (951) 955-1040
Fax: (951) 955-2194
District4@rcbos.org

Jeff Stone, Vice-Chairman (District 3)
(951) 955-1030
Fax (951) 955-2194
District3@rcbos.org

Bob Buster, District 1
Phone: 951-955-1010
FAX: 951-955-1019
District1@rcbos.org

John Tavaglione, District 2
(951) 955-1020
district2@rcbos.org

Marion Ashley, District 5
(951) 955-1050
District5@rcbos.org

For more information, please contact the AKC Government Relations department at 919-816-3720 or doglaw@akc.org.