Should People Be Forced To Spay And Neuter Their Pets?

A city in Georgia, USA, is two weeks away from voting on a mandatory spay/neuter ordinance (law). Some residents would welcome the ordinance being passed, yet others feel it’s an invasion of privacy and their civil liberties. Whether or not laws need to be introduced to make pet owners more responsible is a contentious matter. Many local authorities are debating it.

Savannah Chatham Metropolitan Animal Control

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According to a June 12 report by WTOC News, Savannah-Chatham Metropolitan Animal Control is proposing all animals in the city, six months of age or older, be spayed and neutered by January 16 or their owners be fined and taken to court.

Of course there are exceptions if the person can show they’re a licensed breeder, or if the operation would be dangerous to the animal’s health or if a person has a rare type of animal. The goal of Savannah-Chatham is to reduced “backyard breeding”.

Animal Control Supervisor, Christina Sutherlin, said another reason the city wants mandatory spay/neuter is to help out the many rescues who step up to help the community. Fewer unwanted litters mean fewer kittens and puppies a rescue would have to find homes for. Having spoken to several rescues in the U.S. personally, it’s a common agreement that rescues would like nothing more than to be put out of business because there are no unwanted pets. Taking control at curbing reproduction won’t eliminate the need for rescues, but anything to slow down kitten and puppy pregnancies would be welcomed by rescues.

It can be expensive to spay or neuter a pet, with private vet prices ranging from $200-$700. Hopefully the rescues and residents in the Savannah area have access to low cost spay and neuter programs, or some will spring up, should the ordinance pass. Cost is not the reason for opposition to the proposal by residents in the area who are against the ordinance being passed.

One residence believes the ordinance would be very restrictive and invasive, believing that responsible pet owners should have a choice on whether or not they wish to have their dog or cat sterilized, calling a mandatory ordinance an infringement on the owner’s rights.

Those in favor of the ordinance know that putting a legal stop to unwanted litters will only benefit the dogs and cats in their community. Not only are there simply not enough homes for the animals that go into the shelter, but a spayed or neutered pet has a better temperament.

Sutherlin goes on to say the city doesn’t want to get into breed specific legislation stating:

“All dogs bite, all cats can bite, we don’t want to get into breed specific legislation. We see bites from everything from Chihuahuas and Dachshunds, to St. Barnards, Huskies and everything in between.”

This three minute video from WTOC has more on the spay/neuter ordinance that may soon take effect.

As a writer, I’ve watched social media pages where countless litters of kittens and puppies are killed or euthanized in our nation’s shelters, either for lack of homes or for illnesses their tiny bodies just can’t survive (such as upper respiratory infections). I’ve watched rescues become overwhelmed because no matter how hard they try, not enough foster or permanent homes can be found. The financial expenses alone are overwhelming.

But should people be forced to have their animals spayed/neutered – should the ordinance be passed? Please leave a comment below on how you feel.

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44 thoughts on “Should People Be Forced To Spay And Neuter Their Pets?”

  1. We had a free spay/neuter clinic for community or feral cats back in April. I took one in from where I work and spaying and vaccinations were totally free due to a Petsmart Charities grant. There were a dozen people there already when I left at 7:30 am. People really took them up on the offer. I was the only one there with a humane trap so I wonder whether people had their personal cats done.

  2. I am sorry I made typing error. In Chicago the total number of homeless pets being killed in 1987 was 42,561!

  3. Yes, definitely!
    Let me tell you something in one of the cities of Illinois there are 9,817 homeless pets euthanized per year. In Chicago the total number of homeless pets being killed in 19897 was 42,561!All of these babies are the result of the overpopulation of so” called” unwanted pets. All this could have been avoided by spaying and neutering. Do you really want to see your kittens and puppies being gassed to death in some Kill shelters? Have I also mentioned that the same unwanted pets do end up in the medical research facilities? They die horrible, lonely, agonizing death there.
    So, if you have heart for animals and any mind left, please SPAY/NEUTER your pets!

    1. Maybe all American women should consider being spayed as well so less unborn children wouldn’t be murdered.
      I am a RESPONSIBLE pet parent and I find the archaic practice of spay and neutering unfair when forcing RESPONSIBLE pet parents to do it. The people the government’s should go after are the irresponsible pet owners who blatantly don’t give a damn about their pet(s) nor their own responsibilities to that pet.
      Irresponsible pet owners pets only serve as status symbols, money making machines or just property to severely abuse and many pets are just dumped alon g highways when they are no longer useful.
      The government should just mind their own business and punish the irresponsible pet owners who are the real problem in this country.

  4. As much as I would like to see the money invested into housing pets and killing them diverted to free spay and neuter services, it is a sad reality that people still won’t do it. If you work in rescue you will know this. I have offered to take people’s pets to have them spayed and neutered. They tell me they don’t want to trap them, or they can’t catch them, or they didn’t have time. They make appts that have been prepaid and they won’t show up. You tell them it is free and they tell me it isn’t worth the trouble. Then these people say they just wait until they breed up to a certain point and then they take them to the shelter to be killed. Do you change this attitude? I think NOT. Education? I think not. Adoptions? Lifestyles have changed and many no longer want the responsibility of a home much less a pet. You have to look at the entire social issue.

    1. I trap their cats myself and take them in to be neutered, completely disregarding their excuses.

      When I see a free-roaming cat, intact, in my neighborhood, they’re going in. No question about it.

  5. I’m really torn about this, because the governments have their hands in our personal business more than we should allow.

    In my opinion, wearing a seatbelt should be a choice. If unbelted people want to take the risk of being killed because of that, so be it. Totally their call.
    Wish them well in their eternal travel.

    People, ofcourse, shouldn’t have to be mandated to do what is logical, ie. neutering. But, there are those that are, simply, ignorant and those who can’t afford.

    My belief is that neutering should be a free service that will achieve the same affect as “big brother” lowering the hammer.

    Mandatory neutering would be impossible to enforce and monitor. I believe that free servicing will achieve a better outcome.

    1. Free service might do!
      However, the better choice would be to lower the cost of the service. Make it affordable for he low-income people. There should be a an income-sliding scale!
      It would be unfair to charge person who makes only $15,000 /year the same fee as for those who make $150,000 /year. In UK there’s a sliding scale based on income.

  6. I thought this was a place where one could simply share an opinion. My interest in kitties and dogs is to save their lives and find good homes for as many as possible.
    I would hope people could find common ground in this endeavor because we all love these animals. People may have heard of June 11th’s “One Day” event — shelters having a no-kill day, and instead, taking out cameras, going to the media, communities and adoption agencies and seeing how many good homes they could find. In just one day, there was almost 97 or 98% of all animals getting homes – this was done first as an experiment to see if the focus could be taken off euthanization and put instead onto extra efforts to find homes, and it worked incredibly well. There are some model shelters working to make this happen every day.

    1. Thanks Sona, I’ll check this out. Thanks for spreading the word. This is certainly a place where you can express opinion freely.

    2. Oh you’ll love it here Sona! We get into some pretty intense debates on here sometimes but Michael always lets us argue among ourselves over things. It takes a little getting used to because sometimes we even get onto a topic totally different than the one in the article.

      Personally I’ve been a bit surprised at how many people are against this. Having help around 2 dozen different shelters in the U.S. I welcome anything that will mean less killing.

  7. People speak of their civil rights. The people who are surrendering unwanted pets to shelters and ESPECIALLY dumping their unwanted pets off on someone else’s door step or parking lot is an infringement on my civil rights. Putting their lack of responsibility off on me and coming into my yard violates my rights! Seeing animals die in the shelters violates my rights. Seeing their suffering violates my rights to live without this horror. Not to mention the unwanted pets that are homeless and fall victim to cruelty and torture. To see this and know this violates my civil rights. I have come to firmly believe it is NOT their right to put this overflow of pets onto other members of the public to pay for and care for. It is just plain wrong to let the births continue just to kill them.

    1. Marleen, a lot of people will thoroughly agree with you. It is a very strong argument that you make. Although many people dislike intrusive laws and regulations which force them to do things, sometimes it has to be done. There are very many cases in the UK and Europe and America where laws have been created to alter human behaviour for the betterment of society in general and to improve the lives of animals. I genuinely believe it is time to force a small minority of irresponsible cat owners to spay and neuter their cats. It is only a small minority but they cause a lot of suffering in cats and a lot of disruption and loss of amenity to others.

      1. Sandra Murphey, No. CA, USA

        How do we know that it’s just a small minority of irresponsible cat owners who don’t neuter? Just wondering how we know?

        1. We don’t know for sure. We make an informed guess but you are right we should know more about the standard of care of cat owners. Obligatory registration etc. would help with that.

  8. So I am guessing you haven’t many shelters? Try coming to Dallas Animal Services, Ft Worth Shelter, Arlington (TX) Animal Services and Amarillo Texas …when you personally visit them then re-read your article …cats/dogs euthanized by hundreds …people like you live in a fantasy world

    1. Thanks for commenting Nena. A lot of people will agree with you that it is time to do something about the mass, unnecessary, slaughter of unwanted cats and dogs in so-called shelters.

  9. absolutely!!! how many of those who are against this ordinance would be willing to make monthly donations of money and time to provide for the animals their irresponsible breeding causes who end up in shelters. These animals need food, medical care, exercise, socialization, etc. not to mention the light bills, water bills, salaries of the employees and other expenses. I seriously doubt any of those people against it want to provide for the multiple animals they keep breeding so they need to be forced to be part of the solution. I’m even against licensed breeders.

  10. Sandra Murphey, No. CA, USA

    As much as I advocate for our freedom to choose, I have to support the idea of mandated neutering. We already have mandated vaccines, and licenses. Unfortunately education is not the answer to unwanted puppies and kittens. Education and affordable surgeries can help a lot, but in this case, mandating would make a big difference.

    People who don’t know or care enough to prevent human conception are going to be a high percentage of those not neutering their pets.

  11. Never thought I’d say this, but I’m in favor of mandatory spay and neutering. Here in my city we have an organization called BARC that offers the operation for a reduced price: $15 cats/$25 dogs. All a person has to do is contact them. Their fee used to be 5 dollars, but as I understand it, there’s been overwhelming demand for that program.

    There’s another, the Carroll House Quick Fix Pet Clinic that offers subsidized surgery for 20 dollars. Despite that the shelters are still filled with kittens each and every year. The cats aren’t the problem, the humans are.

    1. As you know I agree. For me the problem is that America will not change that irresponsible 5% (or whatever the figure is) of cat owners through kindness and patience. You have to force change from them. That is all they will respond to. That means getting tough and it’ll solve so many problems.

      1. You’re right, Michael. I find it interesting that those pet owners can howl about invasion of privacy and that their rights are being violated, yet they can spend money to go to the movies, the mall, they take trips and go to the boat to gamble, yet they won’t take the time to care for their pet. Factor in gas if they have a car, or cab fare if they don’t, and the fees that BARC and Carroll House charge here are still pretty cheap. Even the Humane Society here has a spay/neuter program that’s $49.99, but you have to ask for it by name.

        I know some of these folks who have cats but they bitterly complain that the cat is unhappy and yowling but they don’t want to take the time to have them fixed. Sometimes I think what they really wanted was a stuffed animal they could put on display.

  12. Absolutely not. There is far more publicity about “bad” pet owners these days, than all the responsible, wonderful ones who care for their animals. It is an invasion of privacy to make pet owners force sterilization on their pets. I would propose education about responsable ownership rather than enforced spay and neuter. There are more and more no-kill shelters doing great work getting pets adoptions in great homes these days, and I think it is a myth that there is a big over population of animals.

    1. The trouble is that some people, a significant minority, don’t want to be educated and you can’t force them to be educated. Something needs to be done to stop the creation of unwanted cats and a small loss of “free choice” would not harm. Also any laws forcing spay and neuter would not upset the responsible pet owner because they already spay neuter and don’t need to be forced. The law would have no effect on them.

      1. Michael Broad. I totally disagree with this ordnance.
        You mentioned a small loss of ” free choice “. You give up one ” small ” choice, when will other choices be legally required ? I see this as a dangerous precedent. To spay / neuter = yes but to legally demand it is very wrong. Exactly how is it to be enforced ? Are the spay / neuter police going to come into your home ? Will there be raids ?
        What ” small ” free choice will You give up ? Yes animal overpopulation is a problem but there is no ” easy ” fix. Finally, this law would only affect this particular city.

        1. I respect your opinion of course but I disagree as you might know. Do you realise the number of unwanted cats who were euthanised at shelters every year in America? Do you realise the number of feral cats in America estimated variously between about 80 million or more but some people estimate the figure to be about one third of the number of domestic cats. We don’t know the true number but there are lots of them and they shouldn’t be there. They are all there because of irresponsible cat ownership and a part of irresponsible cat ownership is failing to spay and neuter cats. Nothing has changed over the years and nothing will change unless change is forced upon the small minority of irresponsible cat owners. Good cat owners would be unaffected.

          Although I dislike legislation and forcing people to do things through legislation, sometimes it is necessary and there are countless laws on the American statute books which do exactly this.

          Enforcement may be difficult but then lots of laws are difficult to enforce but that did not stop them becoming statutes. One way to enforce such a law would be to also make it obligatory to microchip your cat. That would make it easier because veterinarians could then record the micro-chipping and at the same time to spay and neuter. This is why the two often go together in legislation.

          1. Sandra Murphey, No. CA, USA

            Sometimes forced legislation is necessary to curtail the harm that we unwittingly do to ourselves and our community.

            When I was a child, there were few laws to protect children from abusive parents. Our Christian country seemed to go along with “spare the rod and spoil the child”. Now laws are in place to protect children, although parents may see it as an invasion of privacy.

            There are also other kinds of laws created to reduce abuses. The landlord/tenant laws and labor laws are among them.

            Education is never going to be the answer with pets. To begin with, many who have pets and children are not responsible people. It’s very easy to have babies and animals.

            Those who take no steps to prevent conception, have children they can’t afford to care for, and then it becomes a social problem to be funded by tax payers.

            Un-neutered cats who escape or are abandoned or lost, contribute to the feral population. Sometimes people must be forced to take responsibility for contributing to a problem. Many people can’t see beyond their nose, and don’t care about the big picture.

            This is the kind of forced ordinance I would support for the higest good of all concerned.

    2. Here’s a “myth” from one shelter in an average size town in South Carolina. Notice the kill rate for cats. West Palm Beach in Florida kills approximately 80% of cats. Where did you ever hear there’s not a population problem? I’d love to check out your references to that.

    3. I’m trying to help the Greenville, SC shelter go no-kill. There are representatives for the shelter pets speaking up at each and every council meeting now. Hopefully it won’t be long in coming.

    4. Clair, As one of the primary volunteers at the local animal Control in our area and a founder of a local animal rescue run for 15 years I can tell there is a ANIMAL OVERPOULATION. I think you need to look at some of the kill factors of local animal controls. Rescues who take in the many litters of puppies and kittens pregnant cats and dogs we fight everyday to save the lives of the animals the irresponsible pet owners bring to the pound because they don’t want no kittens and SHE keeps getting pregnant! I ask you to volunteer at a Kill Shelter for two weeks and watch the horror we see everyday.

    5. Really? You think it’s a myth? The number of animals that have to be euthanized yearly from over crowding is staggering. Just in the city of LA over 75k pit or pit mixes were euthanized. And that’s just one type of breed in one city. They tried giving people the privacy to chose and too many people are being irresponsible. This law needs to pass. It’s already been passed in other cities and is very successful.

      1. Thanks for commenting. I think what Claire might be trying to say is that more can be done to find new homes for unwanted cats and one of the problems is that the shelters don’t use enough imagination or perhaps try hard enough to rehome cats although that is changing. That said, the strong indication is that there is an overpopulation of cats in America. When an estimated 2 to 3 million are deliberately killed every year it is hard to argue that there is no overpopulation problem. So I agree with you.

    6. Educating the public will not stop the back yard breeders from doing what they do. I personally work in rescue and currently am fostering 5 rescued kittens from two litters and two different back stories. All rescues and shelters are overwhelmed and exhausted. We do what we do because of our,undying love and devotion to these poor creatures that humans have mistreated.
      The fact that there is much more coverage of abuse and neglect than there is of responsible pet ownership is irrelevant. Back yard breeding is the cause of overpopulation that leads to irresponsible and abusive people to have easy access to pets. The number of horrible acts against innocent animals and the uncountable pets abandoned in shelters is a growing problem that needs to be dealt with and that is the reason you see more coverage of it. It is a problem we are trying to change. The only way to change it is to act.

      1. Thank you, Sonia, for commenting. A lot of people agree with you. It is time to act and do something tangible and solid to change course because for far too long far too many cats and dogs have been euthanized unnecessarily in shelters across the country. Human behaviour can be changed through legislation. It is time to change the behaviour of a small minority of people and irresponsible people who bring into the world unwanted cats and dogs.

  13. Hi, well I think its a very good idea. As if it can stop Overpopulation of Kitties and Puppies its best to try and put a stop to it. I mean in US its so cheap to get you cat fixed compared to over here in nz.

    1. I agree with you, Kylee. But a lot of people disagree with the idea. I hope you and your cats are okay.

      1. Yea I agree with it. I know alot of people will probobly not be happy with it. There is too many unwanted kitties and Puppies out there already. THats just my View. Yes Im doing very well and the Cats are doing well too.

  14. I think my views are known. The fact that over decades there has been little improvement in reducing the number of unwanted cats and dogs, there is a strong argument for obligatory spay/neuter. The authorities have no choice. Civil liberties and rights are important but there are too many irresponsible pet owners who abuse their rights. It is time for change.

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