Los Angeles Reinstates Budget for Subsidized Spay/Neuter

Update Mar. 25, 2009: After much criticism including from the city council, the Los Angeles Dept. of Animal Services has announced it is reinstating the program offering free or discounted spay/neuter.

It is really the only way most and especially low income residents can afford to comply with the city’s mandatory spay/neuter law. Otherwise, it is likely many residents especially those struggling in this harsh economic climate, would surrender their pets. 

Update Mar. 15, 2009: Just months since the city’s mandatory spay/neuter law took effect, the Los Angeles city council has cut the budget of Animal Services by $300,000.

Ed Boks, Director of the city’s Dept. of Animal Services, has announced as a result, the city can no longer offer free or discounted spay/neuter.  

The mandated law is unlikely to work without an aggressive spay/neuter program subsidized by the city. It also may mean more animals surrendered to the city’s shelters or abandoned by owners already struggling with job losses, home foreclosures and a tough economy. The risk of being cited for violation of the mandatory spay/neuter law and lack of funds for the surgery will likely mean many owners will decide not to keep their pets.

For more on this law, read Animal Law Coalition’s earlier reports below.

Update August 24, 2008:  It’s not enough just to pass a law. Enforcement is always key.

That is demonstrated nowhere more clearly than in Los Angeles.

After passing a mandatory spay/neuter ordinance earlier this year, Los Angeles failed to provide its Department of Animal Services with any funds to enforce it. The city controller has announced the Department will rely on voluntary compliance.

Sort of defeats the purpose of a mandatory law.

The controller was also critical of the Department’s efforts to educate citizens about the new law. But Edward A. Boks, Animal Services general manager, said his department’s website contains information about the mandatory law and volunteers do spread the word. 

The law takes effect October 1. A key is whether the evaluation of low cost spay/neuter services and ways to increase the availability of these services as contemplated by the ordinance will proceed. For more on the new law, read Animal Law Coalition’s report below.

Original report: Los Angeles is taking steps to increase spay/neuter of dogs and cats in the city. A proposed ordinance has been approved by the City Council and signed by the mayor, Antonio Villaraigosa.

The law focuses on providing low cost spay/neuter services to low income pet owners, a key in any successful spay/neuter effort.

The ordinance establishes a 15 person Animal Services Spay/Neuter Advisory Committee "for the purpose of advising …on the impact of the City’s spay/neuter policies on the City’s low income residents".  

The Committee will evaluate the spay/neuter services provided and look at numbers of animals spayed/neutered, exemptions given, waiting lists for spay/neuter, and funding. The Committee will then offer recommendations for improvement particularly on the availability of services for low income pet owners.

The Committee will be appointed by the City Council. The Committee would be expected to complete its work by October, 2009.

The City of Los Angeles currently has in effect an ordinance that mandates spay/neuter for cats that go into public places. The ordinance also does not allow breeding of dogs or cats without a breeding permit.

The new ordinance goes further and actually requires owners to spay/neuter dogs and cats 4 months of age or older unless they obtain a breeding permit.

There are few other exceptions: dogs registered with an approved registry or association that compete in shows or competitions, dogs that are in training or "in the process of earning, an agility, carting, herding, protection, rally, hunting, working, or other title" from an approved registry or association; or guide, signal, service dogs or dogs used by law enforcement or the military. (Dogs and cats may be exempt if a veterinarian certifies the animal is in poor health, ill, too young, or too old, or should have the surgery only after a specified date.)  

The new ordinance also requires owners to micro-chip their dogs and cats.

Violators of the mandatory spay/neuter requirement will be cited and given 60 days to comply. They will also be provided with information about low cost spay/neuter services. If these owners fail to comply, it will be deemed a second violation that can mean a $100 fine or 8 hours of community service. Of course, they must have the animal sterilized. A continuing failure to comply within 60 days will be deemed a 3rd violation that can trigger a $500 fine or 40 hours of community service. After that, criminal misdemeanor charges may be filed.

Click here for a copy of the ordinance.  

Other provisions of the current law remain the same. There is an $8.50 license fee for unaltered dogs and a $3.50 charge for animals that have been spayed/neutered. Sec. 53.15.  A free license is available for low income disabled or elderly persons if the animal is spayed/neutered or the owner agrees to sterilize the dog within 90 days. Sec. 53.15.3 In addition to the cost of the license, there is a fee for unaltered dog owners of $91.50 and $11.50 for spayed/neutered dogs.  

The breeder’s permit costs $100 annually per animal. Sec. 53.15.2 The permit is for one litter.  A second litter during the annual permit period may be permissible "to protect the health of the animal[,] avert a substantial economic loss to the permittee" or "if the first litter was euthanized". Violators are subject to fines of up to $500.00.

Breeders permits are not available to anyone convicted of animal cruelty or neglect.

A breeder must register all dogs bred for sale and disclose their name and permit number in any ad and on any sale documents. The city also tracks the identity of subsequent owners of the animals sold by breeders. Animals cannot be sold until 8 weeks of age and must be immunized at the time of sale. Sellers must have a permit to sell dogs or cats and must provide a signed statement about the animal’s health and immunization history.  



One thought on “Los Angeles Reinstates Budget for Subsidized Spay/Neuter”

  1. its stupid how agencies like the spca are making it harder for families to own a dog or cat. Having a dog is becoming more and more expensive. Immunization shots, annual license fees, neuter/spay fees and most importantly the dog food and other dog accessories for the animal. I hope they rethink their decisions on putting so many restrictions for having a dog or cat or the consequences will undoubtedly be more dogs and cat put to sleep.

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