Despite strong objections by residents and the current lack of subsidized spay/neuter services, an overreaching mandatory spay/neuter law enacted by the Gadsden City Council in July 2023 remains on the books. This law continues to criminalize many responsible dog owners in the community.
An alternate proposed law that would replace the spay/neuter law is expected to be tabled again at the September 19, 2023, City Council meeting. That means every Gadsden resident who owns an unsterilized dog or cat aged six months and older will remain subject to fines of up to $500.
The proposed replacement law includes problematic provisions for pet and breeder licensing and would direct certain fees and fines to a non-governmental corporation without going through a budgeting or appropriation process. This proposal is expected to be discussed at a Public Safety Committee meeting later this month.
What you can do TODAY:
Dog and cat owners in Gadsden are urged to contact City Council members and ask them to immediately repeal the mandatory spay/neuter law at the September 19, 2023, meeting. Ask them to instead work with knowledgeable pet owners to develop fair and effective solutions that do not penalize responsible owners, increase the number of homeless pets, and create public safety risks.
Click here to identify your district and city council member, view meeting dates and location, and get information on how to speak at a meeting.
Talking points and resources:
Mandatory spay/neuter laws are sometimes proposed as a hasty or “feel-good” solution in response to animal control concerns in the community. Proponents of these laws incorrectly believe that mandatory spay/neuter laws will reduce the numbers of animals at the local shelter and strays roaming in neighborhoods. However, these laws have not proved to be an effective solution to animal control issues, and often result in increased rather than decreased numbers of homeless dogs and cats.
- Owners who are financially unable to comply with the demands of the law may be forced to relinquish or abandon their pets, thereby increasing shelter and stray populations.
- Such laws also punish responsible owners who choose to keep their dogs intact for conformation competition, field trials, hunting, responsible breeding programs, and similar purposes.
- Emerging scientific studies demonstrate that spaying/neutering, particularly before a dog is fully mature, can cause detrimental long-term health impacts. In light of this information, the American Kennel Club (AKC) encourages dog owners to consult with their veterinarians on the appropriateness and timing of spaying or neutering the individual dog. Other prominent animal organizations concur. The American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) supports elective spay/neuter rather than mandated surgery. The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animal (APSCA) does not support laws that mandate spay/neuter of all owned animals within a community and cites information on the negative effects of these laws.
- Mandatory spay/neuter laws are very difficult to enforce, and in some cases result in public health concerns when owners avoid routine veterinary appointments, including rabies vaccines, to hide their lack of compliance.
- Rather than a mandatory spay/neuter law, lawmakers should instead focus on increased enforcement of leash laws, fully funding low-cost spay/neuter programs, and public education programs to promote responsible dog ownership.
For more information and talking points, see:
- Why Mandatory Spay/Neuter Laws are Ineffective – informational flyer
- Health Risks Associated with Spay/Neuter – article with links to 55 scientific studies
- Visit the Key Issues: Mandatory/Spay Neuter page in the AKC Legislative Action Center, akcgr.org.
For additional information, contact AKC Government Relations at firstname.lastname@example.org.