Search Menu

AKC Government Relations has just learned that the City Council of Providence, Rhode Island, recently passed a mandatory spay/neuter ordinance and animal ownership limits.  The proposal would require all dogs six months of age or older to be spayed or neutered unless a person acquires a dog breeding permit.  Now it is up to Mayor Jorge Elorza to sign off on or veto the ordinance. 

It is imperative that all concerned Providence area fanciers and enthusiasts contact Mayor Elorza and respectfully urge him to veto this proposal. 

The AKC opposes the concept of breeding permits, breeding bans or mandatory spay/neuter of purebred dogs, specifically those based on the number of dogs owned or maintained. Instead, the AKC supports reasonable and enforceable laws that protect the welfare and health of dogs and do not restrict the rights of breeders and owners who meet their responsibilities.

As adopted by the City Council, the ordinance would:

  • Make it unlawful for any dog owned or harbored in the city to breed. 
  • Require all dogs six months of age or older to be spayed or neutered. 
  • Limit persons from keeping no more than three dogs three months of age or older. 
  • Allow residents to breed dogs if they acquire a dog breeding permit.  The annual permit will cost $250 per year, and will require premises inspection to ensure that premises are maintained according to standards that will be developed by animal control. 


  • Government mandated pet sterilization is problematic for several reasons.  First, spaying and neutering are major surgeries than often result in more than sterilization.  Recent scientific studies demonstrate that spaying/neutering, particularly before a dog is fully mature, may result in detrimental long-term health impacts, including increases in incidences of certain cancers, debilitating joint diseases, incontinence, and behavioral issues.  (For example, see  In light of this information, AKC believes the decision to spay or neuter a dog should be made by a dog’s owner in conjunction with their veterinarian, not by government.  We encourage breeders, owners and veterinarians to consult on the appropriateness and timing of spaying or neutering an individual dog.  
  • Second, mandatory spay/neuter has been proven time and again an ineffective solution to animal control problems because it fails to address the heart of these issues—irresponsible ownership.  These laws are extremely difficult to enforce and are often easily evaded.  Experience has shown that irresponsible dog owners who already fail to comply with licensing or at-large laws are likely to not comply with additional restrictions.  Those who will comply, however, are the responsible owners who are not to blame for shelter population issues; who are not responsible for dogs at-large; and who, based on recent findings published by the American Pet Products Association, in large part comprise the 86% of American dog owners who have already spayed or neutered their pets. 
  • Third, not only do attempts to punitively force responsible dog owners to comply with additional requirements like mandatory spay/neuter represent public policy that is unfair and has little chance of successfully addressing animal control issues, they have also repeatedly shown to drastically increase animal control enforcement costs.  For the year immediately following Dallas, Texas’ enactment of its mandatory spay/neuter ordinance, animal control enforcement costs there increased by 22% while pet licensing revenues dropped by $400,000.  Santa Cruz County, California, saw a 56.4% increase in its animal services budget in the 12 years following passage of its mandatory spay/neuter law.  In San Mateo County, California, licensing rates dropped approximately 27% after implementing mandatory spay/neuter.  After the passage of its MSN ordinance, Los Angeles (city), California, saw a massive 269% increase it its animal control budget.  Aurora, Colorado, had to account for a 75% increase it is compliance enforcement costs after it passed mandatory spay/neuter.  Within one year of enacting their MSN ordinances, Buncombe County, North Carolina’s animal control costs increased 16% while King County, Washington’s increased by 44%.

Concerned Providence-area fanciers, enthusiasts, and dog clubs are strongly encouraged to contact Mayor Jorge Elorza and urge him to veto the mandatory spay/neuter proposal.  Visit AKC’s Legislative Action Center Key Issues: Mandatory Spay Neuter page for resources or use the talking points above for justification against the proposal. 

Mayor Jorge O. Elorza
25 Dorrance Street
Providence, RI 02903
Phone: 401.421.2489
Fax: 401.455.8823
Click here to contact Mayor Elorza via an email form. 

AKC Government Relations will provide additional updates as developments warrant.  For more information, contact AKC Government Relations at (919) 816-3720 or