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The American Kennel Club Government Relations Department has just become aware that TODAY the Santa Paula City Council will have a first reading and vote on an ordinance (p.104) that would establish mandatory spay/neuter of dogs and cats in the city unless the owner qualifies for an exemption. The listed exemptions are vague and problematic.

Further, the measure would require breeders to purchase a breeding permit for an unstated amount and pass a test on “humane breeding practices” designed and administered by the Animal Services Coordinator. The measure does not state how much breeding experience the Animal Services Coordinator would be required to have.

Finally, the memo from the city attorney references health studies from 2004, despite more current research having been made available. It also neglects to mention that the American Veterinary Medical Association and the ASPCA both oppose mandatory spay/neuter as proposed in this ordinance.

It is imperative that responsible owners and breeders attend this meeting or contact their legislators and oppose these burdensome and ineffective proposals.

This measure was first brought forward in November of 2015, but after veterinarians and responsible animal owners and breeders objected at the December hearing, the measure was sent back to council for further review. It was anticipated that the required age for sterilization would be raised to six months, but that has not happened. The council did not address concerns related to the qualifications of the Animal Services Coordinator in drafting a test on “humane breeding practices,” nor have they delineated how qualifications for the various exemptions would be established.

Santa Paula City Council

Date: Tuesday, January 19th, 2016

Time: 6:30 PM

Location: City Council Chambers at 970 Ventura Street, Santa Paula, CA 93060

Provisions include:

Section 91.32: Mandatory Spaying and Neutering of Dogs and Cats.

  • No person may own, keep or harbor a dog or cat over the age of four (4) months that has not been spayed or neutered.
  • The “guardian/custodian” of a dog or cat that is unable to be sterilized due to health concerns must present written confirmation from a veterinarian, including a date by which the dog or cat may be safely sterilized.

Section 91.33: Unaltered Dog and Cat Licenses

Dogs and cats may only remain intact if one the following exemptions apply:

  • Competition dogs used to show or breed that are of a breed recognized by and registered with approved breed registries such as the American Kennel Club or United Kennel Club.  
    • It is unclear what documentation would be needed to qualify for this exemption.
  • The “guardian/custodian” is a member of an approved purebred dog breed club which enforces a code of ethics for dog breeding.
  • The dog is used by a law enforcement agency for law enforcement purposes.
    • The wording of this section fails to recognize that most search and rescue dogs are privately owned, trained and handled.
  • The dog is a qualified service or assistance dog.
  • “Working dog developed or trained to do useful work, such as herding animals, pulling wagons or sleds, or guarding property;”
    • It is unclear how it would be determined if a dog qualifies under this provision.
  • The owner of the dog or cat provides a letter from a licensed veterinarian stating that the dog is unable to be spayed or neutered without a serious risk of bodily harm or death.
    • Veterinarians may be reluctant to provide these exemptions. 

Section 91.35 Dog and Cat Breeding – Permit Required – Fees.

  • Any person, except for a person possessing a valid kennel license, who causes the breeding of a cat or dog, shall obtain a breeding permit from the Police Department and shall pay the fee for such permit. Breeding permits shall be valid for a term of one year from the date of issuance.
    • Burdensome fees are not reasonable when there is no proof that responsible breeders are contributing to animal control problems in Santa Paula.
  • Each permit shall authorize the whelping of no more than one litter per female dog or cat in any twelve month period and no more than one litter per domestic household in a twelve month period or the offering of a male dog or cat for stud service once in a twelve month period.
    • There is no legitimate reason to limit responsible breeders in this manner. There are no health concerns related to allowing a male dog to be used for stud more than once a year and it is highly likely that a dog used for stud would be bred to a female in another jurisdiction, making the interest of animal control in the male’s jurisdiction tenuous at best.
  • The person applying for the breeding permit shall demonstrate a basic understanding of humane breeding practices, administered in the form of a test, designed and administered by the Animal Services Coordinator. Should the applicant fail to pass the humane practices breeding test, he or she shall be denied the breeding permit and may not reapply for such a permit for a minimum of thirty days.
    • What qualifications does the Animal Services Coordinator have to draft and administer such a test? Does the individual in this position have specific training in animal reproduction? Is this individual a veterinarian and member of the American College of Theriogenologists? The decision about whether to breed a dog should be made by the breeder in consultation with his or her veterinarian.

The American Kennel Club opposes the spay/neuter laws and arbitrary breeder permits as ineffective because they fail to address the underlying issue of irresponsible ownership.

California state law already provides for the sterilization of animals adopted from shelters and mandates that the license fee for intact animals be at least double that of sterilized animals. The mandatory sterilization requirements proposed in this ordinance will merely punish those who are responsible owners and breeders, while irresponsible owners who are not complying with current laws are unlikely to change their behavior. 

Many communities that have implemented mandatory spay/neuter (MSN) policies have found them to be ineffective and expensive. For example, after Dallas, Texas enacted MSN policies in 2008, it experienced a 22 percent increase in animal control costs and an overall decrease in licensing compliance.

MSN laws often result in owners either ignoring animal control laws entirely, or relinquishing their pets to the public shelter to be cared for at the taxpayers’ expense rather than pay for expensive sterilization surgery or breeder permits.  According to the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA), some owners also opt to avoid rabies vaccinations and other general veterinary care in order to hide their lack of compliance with MSN laws. 

AKC Resources:

AKC Position Statement: Canine Population Issues
AKC Position Statement: Spaying and Neutering
Mandatory Spay-Neuter Issue Brief
Issue Analysis: Why Mandatory Spay/Neuter Laws are Ineffective
 

What You Can Do:

  • Attend the Santa Paula City Council Meeting on Tuesday, January 19th at 6:30 PM and speak in opposition to this burdensome and ineffective measure.
  • If you are unable to attend this hearing, please contact the council members via phone call or email asking them to oppose this ordinance.

Santa Paula City Council

Council members can be emailed at info@ci.santa-paula.ca.us, or reached via phone at 805.525.4478 or fax at 805.525.6278.

Mayor John Procter
Vice Mayor Martin F. Hernandez
Councilmember Jim Tovias
Councilmember Jenny Crosswhite
Councilmember Ginger Gherardi

For additional information, please contact the American Kennel Club Government Relations department at 919-816-3720 or doglaw@akc.org.  

The American Kennel Club Government Relations Department has just become aware that TODAY the Santa Paula City Council will have a first reading and vote on an ordinance (p.104) that would establish mandatory spay/neuter of dogs and cats in the city unless the owner qualifies for an exemption.

If you have any questions please don't hesitate to contact us at enewsletter@akc.org
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