Monday, May 23, 2011

Mandatory Spay Neuter

We passed a mandatory spay/neuter law here in Los Angeles in 2008. While the law has good intentions, it's not being enforced (how could it when there are so many pets in L.A. and so few Animal Control officers). The areas that we teach in are usually low income areas. Even though the law affects their area and their pets, they are surprised when they hear about it. It's news to them.

Do you know what else is news to them? That they can get their pet spayed/neutered for FREE in most cases, qualifying because their income is so low. Once they find out, they want the information. People WANT to get their pets fixed. The people this law is intended to target want to anyway. They just cannot afford it. Rather than passing a law mandating it, it would have been better to take the money spent lobbying for the law and go into the communities with it. Take the spay/neuter TO them.

When it came time for us to get Lily fixed, she was six months old and weighed about 30 pounds. She also had an umbilical hernia. The quote for her spay alone - $420. That's a lot of money despite my husband's income. It is completely out of reach for a low income family struggling to put food on the table.

In the communities we teach, the litters are often accidental. The parents would get the pet fixed, if they could afford it. When I have parents volunteering in the classroom, I always have 'dog' questions after I'm done. They line up for training advice or medical advice or just to tell me stories about their beloved intact pet. They love their pets. But they can't afford to fix them. There isn't any education going on in their areas to let them know that 1) there is a mandatory spay/neuter law and 2) they can get their pets fixed for FREE. Most of these moms don't like dealing with the litters. It's more mouths to feed. Puppies get sick. They cost money. You should see their faces light up when I tell them I have a list of places to call that will help them.

On Thursday, I was approached by a mom after teaching a Kinder class. She wanted to know where she could get her dogs 'snipped.' She has three chihuahuas and she wanted to get neutered. In speaking with her, I found out that she has gone to lengths to keep her dogs separated and avoid a litter. She rotates their outside time and keeps them separated with crates and baby gates when they are inside. She's doing a tremendous amount of work to avoid a litter. And she's been doing it for THREE YEARS. That's incredible dedication that most people don't have. I was more than happy to give her the number. "I take very good care" she kept saying to me. She didn't want me to think that she was a bad pet owner because her dogs weren't fixed. Someone had already admonished her for not having them neutered. We shouldn't be here to judge, but to help. To educate.

Yes, there are still those unscrupulous people who want to breed for money. But we find in our areas that it is more a lack of education than people wanting to make money off their dog. They want to do the right thing. They just can't afford to. Making it a mandatory doesn't help them. Offering free spay/neuter and making it more accessable does.

1 comment:

  1. Well said. People just need to know how! A few years ago they cut the low cost spay/neuter because the county was tired of paying for pets to be fixed when it was intended for strays or something like that. It was completely ridiculous!! I was SO MAD. But some shelters and nonprofits rallied and found a way to help. It isn't free(God I wish it was!) But they do offer a huge discount to help out.