NJ Vets to Skip Classes by Donating Free Spay/neuter

Update May 21, 2010: The Senate bill,  S. 515 was substituted for A 928 and then passed the New Jersey Assembly yesterday by a vote of 75-2!  S. 515 previously passed the Senate by a vote of 37-2. 

 S. 515 would permit veterinarians and physicians to earn continuing education credits by providing certain free veterinary or medical services.

Significantly, this bill will allow a veterinarian to offset up to 10 of their required 20 or more credits for continuing veterinary education by offering free spay or neuter services to (1) individuals on certain types of state and federal assistance and (2) municipalities or nonprofit organizations operating a TNR program.

New Jersey veterinarians could earn one hour of continuing education credit from the State Board of Veterinary Medical Examiners for every two dogs or cats that are spayed for free, and one hour credit for every four dogs or cats that are neutered, also free of charge. 

Go here for more on this bill and why this can help save lives!

Las Vegas Mandates Spay/Neuter

dog and catBy a vote of 5-2, the Las Vegas, Nevada city council has passed an ordinance requiring residents as of April 1, 2010 to spay/neuter their dogs and cats 4 months of age or older. Mayor Oscar Goodman supports the new law.

There are some exceptions:

The animal cannot breed or a veterinarian certifies the animal is medically unfit for the surgery.

The animal has been trained and is used for law enforcement, search and rescue or as a service animal.

The owner has a valid dog fancier’s, cat fancier’s, breeder’s or professional animal handler’s permit.

A violation would be a misdemeanor with fines up to $225 for the first offense, $500 for the second offense and $1,000 for the third and subsequent offenses.

Last year, 2008, North Las Vegas, a suburb, passed a similar ordinance.  

Some thought the minimum age in the Las Vegas ordinance was too young and should be 6 months rather than 4.

Other opponents questioned whether a mandatory spay/neuter law will work to bring down shelter intake and euthanasia rates. At the Lied Animal Shelter, the Las Vegas public shelter, according to the Las Vegas Review-Journal, "the number of impounded dogs has increased 10 percent a year for the past three years, and cat intakes have been up 5 percent annually." Lied Shelter takes in about 50,000 animals a year. At least 50% are euthanized. The attitude at the Shelter and among council members is that this ordinance is better than doing nothing.   

But they may need to do something else. Like make free or low cost spay/neuter readily accessible and aggressively educate people on the importance of spay/neuter and where they can obtain the surgery free of charge or at a heavily reduced rate.

The law is likely to prompt many people to spay/neuter their pets certainly over time as they get used to the idea. There is low cost spay/neuter available to some extent in the Las Vegas area. But, without free or low cost spay/neuter that is readily available, it is not clear the mandatory law will work to reduce significantly the numbers of unwanted animals that end up at Lied. Certainly, the law will be difficult to enforce and could not only divert but also increase animal control costs.

Also, studies have shown a mandatory spay/neuter law can mean fewer people license their pets, resulting in fewer animal control dollars and greater incidents of rabies and other diseases from animals whose owners fail to comply with licensing and vaccination requirements.

The burden of a mandatory law like this falls on low and moderate income pet owners. Without free, low cost and even moderate cost pay/neuter, many people are unlikely to be able to afford to spay/neuter animals and may simply dump them at least in the initial period following passage of the law. In Los Angeles, for example, shelter intake and numbers of animals euthanized increased following enactment of mandatory spay/neuter in 2008.

The new law will do nothing to stop breeding by for profit breeders, puppy and cat millers that are exempt from the requirements. It is estimated 25-30% or more of animals that end up in shelters are produced by for profit breeders.  


Study Reaffirms Importance of Free or Low Cost Spay Neuter

Cat in shelter(Excerpts from a press release issued by Alley Cat Allies are reprinted with permssion.) 

A new study in the Journal of the American Veterinary Association reports that the vast majority-at least 80%-of pet cats in U.S. households are neutered, with middle-to higher-income households reporting rates of over 90%.

The peer-reviewed study, based on data collected for Alley Cat Allies by Harris Interactive and analyzed by Alley Cat Allies using a rigorous statistical approach, is the first nationally representative study to thoroughly examine household income as it relates to the neuter status of pet cats.

"This study indicates that spaying and neutering is an accepted, established practice among the large majority of Americans with pet cats," said Becky Robinson, president of Alley Cat Allies.

"This is a very positive finding. As a result, our nation’s pet cats are living much healthier lives."

"The study found that family income was the strongest predictor of whether house cats are neutered. In households earning $35,000 or more annually, 93% of cats were neutered, compared to 51% of cats in households earning less than $35,000. While both income groups reported a majority of their pet cats to be neutered, the disparity underscores a challenge long observed by Alley Cat Allies", said Robinson.

"Up until now, there has been a lot of speculation that income is a barrier for neuter in lower-income families, but now we have a scientific study establishing that this is the case nationally," Robinson said.

"It is also critical to point out that household cats represent only part of the total U.S. cat population," said Wendy Anderson, director of law and policy for Alley Cat Allies and a co-author of the study.

"Previous research has shown there may be just as many stray and feral cats in the U.S. as pet cats, and most of these cats are intact and breeding. We need to enact smart policies and programs that expand the availability of low-cost, high-volume spay and neuter services, not only to serve lower income pet owners, but to provide services for feral cats as well," Anderson said.

The study ("Population Characteristics and Neuter Status of Cats Living in Households in the United States," J Am Vet Med Assoc 2009; 234:1023-1030) consisted of 1,205 respondents across the continental U.S., contacted by telephone and selected via random-digit dial methodology. Following completion of the data collection, respondents were weighted for region, age, gender, education, income, race and ethnicity to ensure a sample representative of the U.S. population.

Based on the nationally representative sample, the study concluded that there are approximately 82.4 million pet cats in the United States, living in a total of 36.8 million households. One third of these households reported adopting at least one of their cats as a stray.

Go here for more on this study.


Spay/Neuter Education Becomes the Law in NV

Update June 2: This bill, AB 15, has now become law, after passing with overwhelming majorities in the Assembly (31-11) and the Senate (21-1).  

The bill passed without exemptions for a number of dogs that had been proposed by breeder groups.

For more, read Animal Law Coalition’s original report below

Original report: How could anyone including dog or cat breeders object to a bill that would require pet sellers to notify purchasers of local sterilization requirements? 

A pet store or dealer, for example, would be required under Nevada AB 15 to tell purchasers about any requirements for sterilization.

The bill would also require licensed veterinarians to post conspicuous notices of sterilization requirements. Local governments would be required to post these notices in public parks.

The idea is to encourage spay/neuter and compliance with any spay/neuter laws like the one in North Las Vegas

A retailer or dealer who fails to comply with the disclosure requirements is subject to an administrative fine imposed by the Director of the State Department of Agriculture in an amount not to exceed $250 for the first violation, $500 for the second violation and $1,000 for each subsequent violation.

Another provision would prohibit breeders from separating a dog or cat from its mother before 8 weeks of age unless the animal is still nursing, in which case there could be no separation until the dog or cat eats on its own. 

Breeders and hunters have used this bill to tack on a recent amendment that would exempt from local sterilization laws dogs used primarily for hunting, "drawing heavy loads", agricultural or farming purposes, and breeding; and service dogs.

Even so, the breeders oppose the bill.  Another bill that would limit and regulate certain breeders is also drawing fire.