Senseless In San Diego
Geneva Coats, R.N.,
Secretary, California Federation of Dog Clubs
(Town Hall meeting notice below)
Oct 2011 -
Despite record low shelter numbers and thousands of dog
smuggled across the border each year, Chula Vista is
considering a mandatory spay/neuter ordinance
to the latest US Census, San Diego County is home to over 3
million people. And, by my calculations, there are
approximately 2/3 of a million owned dogs in San Diego County.
Please see meeting notices below.
How do we arrive at this figure? Over 39% of US households own
at least one dog, according to the latest American Pet Products
Manufacturers survey. Further, 40% of dog-owning households own
multiple dogs. San Diego County contains over a million
households. Crunching the numbers, the estimate is that San
Diego County is home to at least 625,000 dogs.
Further, shelter numbers in San Diego County (as available on
the website of the California Department of Public Health)
reveal that, in 2009, for the entire county, there were 371 dogs
killed in San Diego shelters. That's less than 0.06% of all the
owned dogs in San Diego County.
In 2010, less than 1% (0.78%) of all the dogs in the county, or
4869 total dogs, were killed in San Diego shelters. The exact
number of dogs who were truly adoptable, and not ill, injured,
aggressive or otherwise not adoptable, is not known, but of
course would be even lower than that 3/4 of 1%.
chart is from
"Maddie's Fund" website.
Not many when put into perspective, right? Of course, there is
always room for improvement. And, none of us want to see any
adoptable pet killed unnecessarily.
In fact, no shelter in San Diego County should be killing any
adoptable animals. There is a huge market for dogs in San Diego
County. Those hundreds of thousands of dogs have to come from
somewhere. If the average lifespan for a dog is about 10 years,
then San Diego County will need over 60,000 new puppies each
year. Demand far outstrips available supply.
At least one
shelter in the County, Helen Woodward Humane Society, imports
dogs from other states, and sometimes from as far away as
Romania. When it was noticed that a proliferation of sickly
puppies were being smuggled in from Mexico and sold to
unsuspecting consumers in the greater San Diego area, a US
Border Patrol survey was conducted in 2005. The survey concluded
that, each year, nearly 10,000 dogs and puppies are brought into
San Diego County from Mexico.
The City of Chula Vista is the second largest city in San Diego
County (after the City of San Diego), and is situated about 10
miles from the Mexican border. Chula Vista undoubtedly absorbs
thousands of smuggled puppies each year.
Ignoring the existing market demand and lack of locally-sourced
puppies, Chula Vista City Councilman Rudy Ramirez has decided
that a mandatory spay-neuter law is needed. Now perhaps we can't
blame this gentleman for believing such a law might be
necessary. On the City's animal control website, we find this:
"The Chula Vista Animal Care Facility encourages owners to
always spay and neuter their pets. There is a serious pet
overpopulation problem in San Diego County that has resulted in
thousands of euthanizations each year."
The fact is that euthanizations in San Diego County are down
significantly. The number of dogs euthanized in 2010 is down by
70% over the numbers killed in the late 1990s. Remember, some of
these euthanized animals were severely injured, sick,
aggressive, or otherwise not savable. Clearly, great progress is
being made in the reduction of shelter intakes and deaths. And,
this success was achieved without the use of coercive
"A serious pet overpopulation problem in San Diego County"?
There is absolutely no evidence to support that assertion. Let's
put the figures into perspective. There are over 3 million
residents in San Diego County. Last year, one animal entered a
shelter for every 63 county residents. One dog was killed for
every 637 county residents. One cat was killed for every 327
When animals are killed in shelters, it cannot be reasonably
blamed on "overpopulation." The number of puppies smuggled in to
San Diego County is more than DOUBLE the number killed in
shelters. There is a market for pets in San Diego.
Spaying/neutering all the local dogs and cats will remove the
best sources for healthy, well-bred and well-socialized animals.
People won't own fewer pets; they'll just get them from
somewhere else. A mandatory spay/neuter proposal would only
serve to increase the black market demand and to promote the
breeding of dogs in foreign puppy mills.
While the goal of reducing shelter deaths is laudable, mandatory
spay-neuter laws don't help. In fact, the opposite is true.
Every locale that has enacted a mandatory spay/neuter law has
seen a RISE in shelter admissions and killings.
County's Peninsula Humane Society spearheaded the nation's
first mandatory spay/neuter law. They did not have the
expected success with that approach. In the areas of the
county where the ordinance was implemented, dog deaths
increased by 126 percent, while cat deaths went up by 86
percent. Licensing dropped by 35 percent.
Texas repealed their mandatory spay and neuter law as
licensing and compliance plummeted, and cases of rabies
Memphis, TN passed a mandatory spay and neuter law last
year. Since then, shelter intakes have risen 8% in that
Los Angeles is
another case in point. After decades of steadily declining
shelter numbers, LA reversed the good trend in one fell
swoop with enactment of a mandatory spay and neuter law.
Intakes and deaths immediately rose by over 30% and continue
in an upward spiral.
Lake County, CA
has has a mandatory spay-neuter law. Their shelter killings
are now four times higher than the state average.
County, MD repealed their MSN ordinance after there was no
improvement in shelter deaths, but there was a 50% drop in
Colorado, also has had a dramatic drop in licensing
compliance since their mandatory spay-neuter law passed.
No mainstream animal welfare organization supports mandatory
spay and neuter. The American Veterinary Medical Association
opposes it. So does Best Friends Animal Society, American
Humane Association, Maddie's Fund, Alley Cat Allies, the
American Kennel Club and the No Kill Advocacy Center. The
ASPCA also opposes mandatory spay neuter, to wit: "The ASPCA is not aware of any credible evidence
demonstrating a statistically significant enhancement in the
reduction of shelter intake or euthanasia as a result of the
implementation of a mandatory spay/neuter law."
Mandatory spay and neuter does not work because it does not
address the reasons that animals enter shelters. Those
reasons are varied, but they have nothing to do with births.
Animals enter shelters due to social problems like loss of a
job, home foreclosure, or divorce or death of the owner.
Mandatory spay/neuter does nothing to help pets remain in
their homes. Ownerless cats make up a large portion of
shelter intakes and spay-neuter laws won't reduce the
numbers of feral cats.
Sometimes there are behavioral issues for which training
programs might provide a useful solution. To help get more
animals adopted, shelters could implement more proactive
ideas like extended hours, foster programs and off-site
adoptions. Advertising campaigns can help educate
prospective pet owners to consider a shelter animal when
they are thinking of getting their next pet.
Trap-neuter-release programs are proven methods for feral
cat population control.
Besides, a recent national pet population survey reveals
that 78% of owned dogs and 88% of owned cats are already
sterilized. The public is cooperating with voluntary spay
and neuter...in droves!
Education coupled with voluntary, low-cost sterilization
clinics, has been very successful. Collaborative, supportive
programs always outperform punitive and coercive programs
like forced spay/neuter. Such laws do not serve the best
interests of pets or their owners.
Community programs in our California cities should be based
on education, science and fact, and modelled after programs
with proven success. Mandatory spay-neuter is a proven
failure. Chula Vista officials should reject this cruel and
Please attend Rudy Ramirez's "town hall meetings" and make
your voice heard. *Chula Vista City Hall, 276 Fourth Ave. (Fourth and F St)
Chula Vista, CA 91910 -
Monday Oct. 17, 2011 @ 6 pm | Thursday Oct. 20, 2011 @ 1 pm |
Saturday Oct. 29 @ 9 am*
And now, a glimpse into the crystal ball:
Recently my city forced me to have my dog Chipotle neutered.
Chipotle was my best friend! I took him wherever I went.
Unfortunately, Chipotle was a tiny Chihuahua who barely
weighed three pounds. He died during his neuter surgery. I
am devastated. What should I do?
Chumless in Chula Vista
First, I'm very sorry about the loss of your Chipotle. There
is no sense suing the veterinarian when the City of Chula
Vista is clearly the responsible party. Get a good lawyer
and take them for every gold Chip in their treasure Chest.