Pet Sterilization Becomes Law in LA
Published: 2/26/08, 8:05 PM EDT
LOS ANGELES (AP) - Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa on Tuesday signed one of
the nation's toughest laws on pet sterilization, requiring most dogs and
cats to be spayed or neutered by the time they are 4 months old.
The ordinance is aimed at reducing and eventually eliminating the
thousands of euthanizations conducted in Los Angeles' animal shelters
"We will, sooner rather than later, become a no-kill city and this is
the greatest step in that direction," Councilman Tony Cardenas said as
he held a kitten at a City Hall news conference.
Councilman Richard Alarcon, who like Cardenas is a co-author of the
bill, brought his two pet Chihuahuas to the event to be neutered in a
van operated by the city.
The ordinance does exempt some animals, including those that have
competed in shows or sporting competitions, guide dogs, animals used by
police agencies and those belonging to professional breeders.
The average pet owner, however, must have their dog or cat spayed or
neutered by the time it reaches 4 months of age (as late as 6 months
with a letter from a veterinarian). People with older unneutered pets
and newcomers to the city with animals also have to obey the law.
First-time offenders will receive information on subsidized
sterilization services and be given an additional 60 days. If they still
fail to comply they could be fined $100 and ordered to serve eight hours
of community service. A subsequent offense could result in a $500 fine
or 40 hours of community service.
The ordinance brings the nation's second-largest city into line with
about a dozen of its neighbors that have similar laws.
Many states require animals adopted from shelters to be sterilized, and
New York City requires the same for animals bought from pet shops, but
restrictions such as those in Southern California are rare. A 2006 Rhode
Island law requires most cats to be sterilized.
A measure similar to Los Angeles' passed the California Assembly last
year but did not gain state Senate support.
Los Angeles animal shelters took in 50,000 cats and dogs last year and
euthanized approximately 15,000 at a cost of $2 million, according to
Bob Barker, the retired game-show host who famously ended every "Price
is Right" show with a call for sterilizing pets, pushed for the law's
adoption and was among those at Tuesday's news conference.
"The next time that you hear me say, 'Help control the pet population,
have your pet spayed or neutered,' I can add, 'It's the law in Los
Angeles,'" a jubilant Barker said.