Mandatory spay/neuter: Sacrificing animal lives to ideology

August 24, 2010

UPDATE: This post is available as a PDF to download and fax to your elected representative in Sacramento. Download PDF

Dogs and cats are dying in shelters. Do you:

  1. Work your ass off to pass a law that has never once worked to improve that situation and has, indeed, consistently made it worse, or…
  2. Work to put in place the set of policies and procedures that have worked to bring every single community that is saving more than 90 percent of the dogs and cats that come into their shelter system to that goal?

It seems obvious, doesn’t it, that the answer is number two. So why are so many self-proclaimed animal lovers dead-set on number one — which is, in case you are new here, some form of mandatory spay/neuter law like California’s SB 250, currently trying to find enough votes to pass?

For many such people, it’s because they haven’t thought it through or familiarized themselves with the facts. They figure only deadbeat pet owners don’t spay or neuter their pets anyway, and they’re just the folks they’ve been told are responsible for shelter killing, and so it seems like a no-brainer.

But if you do use your brain instead, by which I mean you actually investigate those communities that have succeeded or failed in ending the killing of homeless pets, or are very close to succeeding, you’ll see a clear pattern.

None of the successful communities have mandatory spay/neuter laws in place. They have a similar set of programs — low cost or free spay/neuter, trap-neuter-return for feral cats, foster programs, thriving volunteer programs, and a great relationship with rescue groups, local businesses, and the regular members of their community.

Those communities, like Los Angeles, that have implemented mandatory spay/neuter have instead seen their shelter intake and killing increase. There are no communities where that hasn’t been the case.

That’s because mandatory spay/neuter diverts resources from services like low-cost spay neuter to enforcement and creates new fines and penalties that lead people to give up their pets more readily than they otherwise would, leading to increased shelter intake and more killing.

Furthermore, it’s already been established that the majority of unaltered pets belong to poor people, and the majority of those people would like to alter their pets if the service was accessible and affordable. Making those services even more difficult to obtain isn’t just ineffective, it’s cruel to both people and pets.

People who support mandatory/spay neuter because they honestly believe it will help and who have no other agenda usually change their minds when they learn these facts.

But there are many other people who don’t, and this is why: They aren’t really interested in saving animal lives. They are opposed, for a number of reasons, to the existence of sexually intact animals.

Some of them have moved beyond “sterilization as a surrogate marker of responsible pet ownership” into actually confounding the two things: Being responsible about pets doesn’t mean you’re, well, responsible for them, and control their reproductive behavior and health, but that you alter them, period.

Others really are opposed to the keeping of domestic pets. The lunatic fringe on the other side often makes it sound like this is the majority motivation of mandatory spay/neuter proponents, but that hasn’t been my experience at all.

It is, though, the motivation of those who lead the movement for mandatory spay/neuter. They object on moral grounds to the deliberate breeding of animals by humans, and are often not even comfortable with the idea of domestication or keeping animals as companions.

These people have no desire to see the No-Kill movement succeed, nor to see its successes be emulated. They don’t want shelters to stop killing, because they need animal lovers to blame and hate “irresponsible pet owners” in order to keep us all fighting among ourselves and to prevent us from ending the killing without a massive social shift in how people think about, care for, and envision companion animals.

This is why we see so many people insisting that as long as people don’t do certain things that show they’re responsible pet owners — including spay/neuter but also a wide array of other behaviors, from becoming vegan to only training with treats and clickers to whatever their personal view of proper pet care is — shelters will never be able to stop the killing.

They can’t accept or believe, or allow people to know, that those communities that have stopped the killing — Reno, Charlottesville, Ithaca and all the rest — have done it without everyone in those communities becoming perfect saints.

Because if we can stop shelter killing without eradicating irresponsible pet ownership from the face of the earth…. well, that’s where I have to stop. There’s no “if” about it. We can and many communities have.

To those people who realize a wholesale moral makeover of every citizen of this country will never happen, that’s good news. That’s dancing in the streets news. Because it means we don’t have to do anything impossible to stop the killing. We just have to do the simple, but difficult, things those communities have done.

But to those for whom the moral makeover is the real goal, it’s a tragedy. To the best of them, it’s just letting bad pet owners off the hook for their irresponsibility by removing the lethal (to the animals) consequences of their behavior.

To the worst of them, it’s the loss of a valuable piece of propaganda in their war on the relationship between people and companion animals.

This is why I support the No-Kill movement and oppose mandatory spay/neuter: Because I don’t want homeless pets to die, but to live.

I want them to live even though there are and will always be irresponsible people among us.

I want them to live even if it means that some people will take it as license to “dump” or “abandon” their pets at shelters, knowing they won’t be killed. (Although one wonders how “irresponsible” they really are if they care about that in the first place.)

I want them to live more than I want my own personal vision of the ideal relationship between people and animals to become the law of the land.

Can you say the same thing?

Filed under: no-kill,pets, connected — Christie Keith @ 2:21 pm


  1. Christie, brava!

    Making spay/neuter mandatory is actually counterproductive, I agree with you. The reason most people don’t spay or neuter is because THEY CAN’T. They can’t afford it, or there is no public transit.

    I think New Hampshire has the right idea. Vouchers for all low-income pet owners (their guideline is to present a Medicaid or Food Stamp card). New Hampshire’s killing rate has dropped like a stone.

    I see pictures of people on Indian reservations lined up…and lined up… for hours and hours when the neutering bus comes to town. We don’t have an “irresponsible public” issue, we have a “we need to get our services out there to them” issue.

    By the way, as for allowing poor people to have pets – FEH to those who say they shouldn’t. I’ve read too much James Herriot, I guess *g* but time and again Herriot writes about an old or poor person whose pet is their only real family. An old man dying of cancer whose cat was all he had. A homeless man who pushed his dog about in a baby carriage (and took splendid care of him). Why should the poor be deprived of the joy and companionship of a pet?

    The one area that I AM completely 100% in favor of mandatory spay/neuter is with ferals – and even then that should be conditional on the availability of free/low-cost s/n and transportation.

    Comment by CatPrrson — August 24, 2010 @ 2:29 pm

  2. CatPrrson – Amen about poor people and pets. If we truly rethink the problem, we have to credit these poor people with performing a public service if indeed they are taking care of animals that would otherwise be killed!

    Comment by Barbara Saunders — August 24, 2010 @ 2:41 pm

  3. You have a gift for sorting all this complicated animal rights vs. animal welfare war (I guess that’s what it is??) – putting it in common sense writing…how can we move forward in any other way than what you have said – thank you I always thank you.

    Comment by mary frances — August 24, 2010 @ 2:42 pm

  4. A related point: It’s not mutually exclusive for someone to be or have been a reputable, ethical breeder (or buy from one) and also care about and be active in caring for other pets.

    I ran a breed rescue for three years, pulling out, fostering and rehoming more than 100 dogs in that time, after making sure they were spayed/neutered, heartworm-free and current on preventive health care. I ran this operation out of my own home and my own pocket.

    What I see is that people who love animals love all animals, including people who responsibly and ethically breed a litter now and then. (As mentioned often here: I have, in 30 years of owning pets, bred one well-planned litter of six puppies, for which there was a waiting list of people who wanted companion dogs who could also hunt, be competitive at agility, etc.)

    I do what I do — everything I do, actually — because I love animals. And because I want people who love pets to have them, because I know what a difference animals make in our lives. The ability to love and be loved shouldn’t come with Big Brother deciding if you’re financially “worthy” — or meet any other condition “they” set.

    The Judie Mancusos of the world seem to be motivated by a hatred of people, including poor people, people who prove her wrong by showing that No-Kill communities work, and, most of all, people who do not agree with her nanny-state vision of a world with no pets at all.

    Ms. Mancuso’s dream, which she has money enough to try to buy in Sacramento, where money talks, is a nightmare for those who really DO care about pets and people.

    Comment by Gina Spadafori — August 24, 2010 @ 2:48 pm

  5. Yes Gina…that is it I do believe…”The Judie Mancusos of the world seem to be motivated by a hatred of people”…

    Don’t personally know Judie Mancuso but know of others I think that are like her – and they have created all kinds of tragic results with their “hatred of people” in their mission to help animals –

    They are clueless diehards and dangerous.

    Comment by mary frances — August 24, 2010 @ 3:00 pm

  6. Excellent article. A few years ago, you would have heard me advocating for MSN laws. But, then I did some research and discovered that it wasn’t working the way we thought it should.

    I was able to admit I was wrong. I wish others could do the same.

    I also wish that people would realize see that MSN laws are just another way for kill shelters to blame the public for the killing that they do so they don’t have to accept blame themselves.

    Comment by No Kill Houston — August 24, 2010 @ 3:46 pm

  7. A few years ago, you would have heard me advocating for them, too.

    But Nathan Winograd’s book “Redemption” got me to thinking, and then looking at what DOES and DOES NOT work and why has had me do a complete 180. The fact that spay-neuter isn’t an entirely benign procedure (while on balance likely still the best choice for most pets), added to the decision.

    We need to stop blaming people. Before I realized this, I had long lamented that we had “picked all the low-hanging fruit” by getting “good people” to spay-neuter, and the only thing left was to deal with the people I blamed for not doing what’s right by their pets.

    Finally, we finally started asking “those” people what they wanted, and it turns out they want to spay-neuter, and they want to care for their pets. Our assumptions were wrong, as wrong as an animal-rights advocate’s shrill insistence that someone who breeds or buys a purpose-bred pet doesn’t care about pets in shelters and doesn’t help those pets find their forever homes as well.

    The answer is to help pet-owners instead of punishing them.

    Provide people in poor communities with free or incentivized spay-neuter where they can get to those services, and they will alter their pets at the same rate everyone else does, which is to say, the vast majority of pet-owners. It’s even more cost-effective than housing and killing pets.

    Forced spay-neuter, on the other hand, forces those people to give up the pets to be killed, or have them killed when they can’t pay fines to get them out of the pound. And it also allows puppy-milling scum to prosper while shutting down reputable, ethical breeders who are not adding to the problems (we are responsible for the pets we bring into this world for the lives of those animals).

    The answer to what doesn’t work in not trying to do it more, in a more forceful and punishing way.

    It’s doing more of what DOES work:

    Building no-kill communities.

    Comment by Gina Spadafori — August 24, 2010 @ 4:15 pm

  8. The one area that I AM completely 100% in favor of mandatory spay/neuter is with ferals – and even then that should be conditional on the availability of free/low-cost s/n and transportation.

    Comment by CatPrrson — August 24, 2010

    I don’t know any person working with ferals who isn’t trying to spay/neuter. After all, “Neuter” is the “N” in Trap, Neuter, Release (TNR).

    But legally mandating that all cats be neutered is to provide cover for the round-up and execution of feral cats — or indeed any cat not confined to indoors. It’s more “killing in the name of kindness” that isn’t kind and doesn’t work.

    Help feral colony caretakers to spay-neuter and they’ll do it like you cannot believe. Help people help animals. Don’t kill animals to punish people.

    Comment by Gina Spadafori — August 24, 2010 @ 6:06 pm

  9. Not to mention that punishing cat owners does nothing to address the problem of OWNERLESS cats breeding.

    Comment by Pai — August 24, 2010 @ 6:13 pm

  10. Eeebil profiteering dog breeder here.

    Not much time. We did just get called off from a SAR mission (subject found okay), but I’ve got to get to bed early so I can drive ten hours tomorrow to pick up yet another foster dog.

    How many behaviorally compromised rescue dogs does Judie foster in her home and train/rehab? Or our friend Jeffrey the guitar-teacher, who is quick to tell us that his “rescue” dog is “spayed, of course.” The most important thing about her.

    But after tomorrow, back to tax dodging and “keeping around a breeding pool of ‘suitable’ dogs just in case some good quality pups show up.”

    Yeah, just in case. By accident.

    Comment by H. Houlahan — August 24, 2010 @ 6:57 pm

  11. It’s so nice to read good, solid reasoning about real animal welfare from people who truly love animals.

    Thank you.

    Comment by MizShepherdist — August 24, 2010 @ 8:17 pm

  12. You can add me to the list of people who thought MSN was a great idea. Then I looked at the data. There’s no point in doing something that doesn’t work.

    Comment by John — August 24, 2010 @ 10:28 pm

  13. Well done Christie.

    Comment by LauraS — August 24, 2010 @ 10:56 pm

  14. great article. Unfortunately it takes a lot less effort to pass a law with what is commonly thought to work versus actual thoughtful research.

    Comment by wolvie — August 25, 2010 @ 1:44 am

  15. You are so right. In Oregon we do not have MSN, we do have many low cost spay and neuter programs. While our shelters are not empty, we have enough room it them that the shelters and rescue groups take a lot of dogs from California high kill shelters.

    The shelters need to look at who is taking the dogs that can’t keep, how those groups work, and learn from them.

    Comment by Jackie Catto — August 25, 2010 @ 9:46 am

  16. The local HS in the community I live in recently succeeded in raising the necessary funds to start a low-cost spay-neuter facility. This particular HS has been “homeless” for some time, and this looked to be a more positive development.
    There is some friction, in that this will be staffed full-time, offering a service below market rate.
    Then this past weekend the local rag carried an article in which the HS leadership and the AC Director are advocating MSN. And it occurred to me, “Wouldn’t that be a smart business strategy, engaging the aid of the “law” in ensuring the viability of a non-profit endeavor? Shifting the cost of the SN Clinic onto the city/county budget?”

    Comment by eli — August 25, 2010 @ 9:51 am

  17. SB 250could come up for a vote at ANY time now.. PLEASE send this article to your legislators and ask them to OPPOSE SB 250.. You can bet that the supporters of this bad bill are haunting the offices of anyone they think they can convince telling them this bill will save lives..when nothing could be further from the truth. Your voice needs to be heard.
    On another note the fiscal analysis on this bill states that even a “modest” increase ( 2%) in shelter intake will COST the state over $400,000 coming out of the general fund.. If you cannot get to them with killing more pets.. try the monetary route.. we don;t have the MONEY to enact this bill.. nor do we want MORE animals removed from their homes and KILLED
    you can find your legislators listed at
    Thank you Christie for this excellent article

    Comment by bestuvall — August 25, 2010 @ 10:04 am

  18. oh and the list can also be found with LOTS of good info at
    Please call now. hmm do i sound like a QVC seller!! LOl

    Comment by bestuvall — August 25, 2010 @ 10:06 am

  19. Yes, right on and thank you.
    BunnyW. St Louis.

    Comment by Caroline Bunny West — August 25, 2010 @ 2:11 pm

  20. Unforturnately, I know Judie Mancuso….. heard she is now on the Veterinary Medical board. What’s next a teaching position in a University or maybe she should be the Czar of Animals in the US ;)

    Comment by ex Fish Hawk nebraska — August 25, 2010 @ 2:43 pm

  21. That is what she is working for.. unbelievable that she has this post… here is a letter about this very subject.. feel free to send it out.. or cross post.. and ASK questions.. why was this appointment made? This letter asks and also explains.. don;t let the politicos get away with this.. ASK QUESTIONS.. Thanks

    August 24, 2010

    Re: Animal Rights infestation in Sacramento.

    Dear Member of the Media:

    As if the specter of bedbugs spreading throughout America weren’t enough, it appears that Sacramento has been infested with Animal Rights extremists. Or at least with one Animal Rights extremist, Judie Mancuso. Mancuso, you may remember, is the founder and president of Social Compassion, the Animal Rights advocacy organization that has sponsored mandatory spay/neuter legislation in this state for the last few sessions. (You may also remember that Social Compassion was reportedly co-founded by Jane Garrison, often described as a PeTA activist or HSUS employee – tomāto, tomäto.)

    What’s Mancuso been up to? Well let’s see, Mancuso recently finagled an appointment from John Perez, Speaker of the California Assembly, to the California Veterinary Medical Board. It’s not clear what Mancuso, part of the “a rat is a pig is a dog is a boy”* crowd, is doing on VMB, the state agency primarily responsible for licensing and regulating the practice of veterinary medicine in California. You might consider contacting the Speaker, himself, and asking him in your best imitation of Dr. Phil, “What were you thinking?” Perez can be reached as follows:

    John Perez
    Speaker of the Assembly
    State Capitol
    P. O. Box 942849
    Sacramento, CA 94249-0046
    (916) 319-2046 – TEL
    (916) 319-2146 – FAX

    Interestingly, the VMB has a link on its Web site pointing to The CA Spay and Neuter License Plate site. For a fee, Californians can buy a special spay and neuter license plate. The money generated by the sale of these plates is to be administered by the California Spay and Neuter License Plate Fund, Inc. Who’s the president of this organization? You guessed it, it’s “a rat is a pig is a dog is a boy”* Mancuso. So let’s get this right, we have the Speaker of the Assembly appointing an Animal Rights extremist to a state agency, we have that state agency promoting a pet project of the Animal Rights extremist, we have the Animal Rights extremist in charge of the money raised by this project. Seems like a call to the VMB might be in order:

    California Veterinary Medical Board
    2005 Evergreen Street
    Suite 2250
    Sacramento, CA 95815-3831
    (916) 263-2610 – TEL
    (916) 263-2621 – FAX

    Finally, we hear that Mancuso has hired the high-priced lobbyist firm, Platinum Advisors, to be her front men in the final hours of this legislative session. ( they also represent Allergan, Pfizer and Estee Lauder, companies that just might not see eye-to-eye with Animal Rights extremists about animal testing.) Platinum doesn’t put out cheaply; so where’s Mancuso’s money coming from? SCIL, SC, PeTA, HSUS, ALDF, LCA or some other organization in the Animal Rights extremist alphabet soup? (Some of the named organizations are tax-exempt, 501(c)(3) organizations and not supposed to be engaged in substantial lobbying activities.) As “Deep Throat” suggested, follow the money.


    P.S. * “a rat is a pig is a dog is a boy” is a well known quote attributed to Ingrid Newkirk, head of PETA . It refers to the fact that animal rights cultists see no difference between a rat and your human child. It is also the title of an excellent new book by Wesley Smith on the animal rights extreme cults like Social Compassion in Legislation, PETA, the HSUS, In Defense of Animals and the well known terrorist group ALF .

    Comment by bestuvall — August 25, 2010 @ 3:00 pm

  22. SB 250 is still in the running.. assembly adjourned for the day. PLEASE call your legislators.. even if it is after hours.. you can leave a message..

    Comment by bestuvall — August 25, 2010 @ 4:04 pm

  23. Why is there such discord between groups of humans who want the best for animals? Why not spend time working together to compromise instead of arguing and trying to beat up other’s ideas? The goal of all of these organizations is to bring about humane animal welfare. Educating, working together and applauding each other’s efforts would seem to be much more beneficial for all involved.

    As I research and learn the philosophies and facts presented by individual humane groups I become more confused about why they aren’t working together. It is like watching the federal government work! Special interest groups for animals need to unite and educate.

    This article seems to categorize groups of folks who have good intentions, but differ in their views, so they are categorized as wrong even though they care about animals. Why not discuss these issues and work together instead of alienate with statements such as “if you use your brain?”

    Comment by Patti Kunz — August 26, 2010 @ 6:37 am

  24. Patti, there ARE people who are working together to find a way forward that doesn’t accept puppy-mills as “free enterprise” nor demand that reputable, ethical breeding stop. These people know and accept that there is a big difference between a good breeder and a bad one, and they don’t believe punishing either good breeders or poor people is the way to help animals.

    A lot of what you’re seeing now is the push-back from those of us who refuse to be cowed by animal-rights extremists, people who will not rest until there are no domestic animals at all. And because we are through letting them speak for us, they’re screaming louder.

    As Christie notes, the animal-rights movement has demonized puppy-mills, irresponsible breeders and factory farms not because they want to end abuse, but because they want to end ALL keeping of domestic animals.

    HELPING people spay-neuter, SUPPORTING reputable, ethical in-home breeders and LEVELING THE PLAYING FIELD for small, more humane animal agriculture is not a goal for an extremist; in fact, movement towards these goals destroys their movement. So they fight for their “until there are none” end game and pass it off as “helping animals.” What a surprise from a movement led by an animal-rights organization that kills every animal it can get its hands on.

    Most people want to be good pet owners. Most people don’t want there to be no golden retrievers or Siamese cats. Most people want and are grateful for the existence of service and working dogs. And most people want safe, healthy food from sources that respect and care for animals and the environment.

    But if we get what we want, the minority who want NO DOMESTIC ANIMALS AT ALL lose.

    That’s why there’s no “working together” when extremists on both sides are driving their agendas.

    Comment by Gina Spadafori — August 26, 2010 @ 7:17 am

  25. Patti, you are obviously very interested in sheltering and animal welfare issues, and probably hear a lot of claims from a lot of people and organizations about what is the “right” thing to do.

    Not all of those people and organizations are honest about either their ultimate goals (the extinction of domestic animals and the establishment of some pie-in-the-sky vegantopia in some cases, as Gina points out) or their actual practices.

    “When someone shows you who he is, believe him.”
    — Maya Angelou

    When someone claims to be devoted to animal welfare, to be “kind” — and yet his every action shows otherwise, then it is neither possible to compromise with him nor helpful to attempt to do so.

    There is no “meet in the middle” with individuals who are so devoted to a punitive worldview that they simply refuse to acknowledge incontrovertible facts.

    Do not attempt to reason with bullies or their toadies.

    We saw that on this blog this week with Jeffrey, who urged Californians to believe the statements on the website of mandatory sterilization advocate Judie Mancuso, and then simply refused to READ THE TEXT OF THE BILL while continuing to make factually incorrect statements about what the bill ACTUALLY SAYS.

    He had plenty of time to make claims on a comment thread, but “no time” to read the rather short bill he was advocating.

    It’s not up for debate whether what Jeffrey claimed was factually incorrect. The bill is what it is, it says what it says, but Jeffrey preferred the fantasy bill in his head to the one that is actually up for a vote, so he clung to his beloved pig-ignorance and continued to substitute the fantasy bill — the bill that doesn’t target feral cat caretakers and includes exemptions for SAR dogs — for the real one.

    Jeffrey showed us who he is, and I believe him. Just as PeTA has *shown,* HSUS has *shown,* and countless employees and directors of shelters that refuse to put the effort into reducing their killing have *shown* who and what they are.

    I am spectacularly uninterested in what people *say* about themselves. Show me.

    The chief, driving advocates of mandatory sterilization of privately-owned animals continually show us who they are.

    They are people who will gladly build political careers and ego-edifices on a foundation made of dog and cat corpses. When shown a *proven* way to step off of that heap of corpses, they will refuse.

    They are people who lie so readily that I honestly believe they cannot distinguish a lie from the truth.

    (video clip NSFW)

    And it does not matter that that lie kills the animals that they claim to “love.”

    They show over and over that they are stubbornly ignorant about animal lives — just simple facts about animals, to start with — and that when it comes to the real hands-on work of improving and saving those lives, well, that’s for the peons. (As long as they can get a political photo op with either an adorable kitten or a barrel of dead ones — either is good.)

    Believe me, *you* are one of those peons in their minds, and all they ask of you is your belief and enablement.

    I for one am *done* with giving the benefit of the doubt, a place at the table, a bully pulpit, etc. to people who *show* me that they have lied to everyone — including themselves, but that’s their problem — about “loving animals” and wanting what is best for them.

    Those people’s real motivations are between them and their shrinks, their God, their conscience, whatever. Not. My. Problem.

    But their vindictive, hateful behavior in the political realm — behavior that destroys animal lives and undermines our lives with animals — unfortunately, is.

    Comment by H. Houlahan — August 26, 2010 @ 8:50 am

  26. Whew! Obviously, I am not well versed in what is REALLY happening! Now you have quieted me and I am reading to to find the truth. Some of these accusations seem surreal to be happening in the “humane” world. I’m no fan of PETA, but to think they kill over 90% of animals, refusal to provide records is astonishing!

    I have to admit, I am probably one of those who was in hopes of the “moral makeover” for all of society. For mankind to become more civilized and compassionate. Guess I am part of the problem. I’m not happy with that reality.

    Comment by Patti Kunz — August 26, 2010 @ 9:57 am

  27. Speaking for myself, I once believed them, too. I thought forced spay-neuter would be good, and I thought the problem was “bad” people.

    There is another way forward, but we need to quit listening to those who say one thing and do another. I refuse to be duped any longer.

    And by the way, there ARE people in the community of otherwise reputable and ethical breeders — caring, involved pet-owners — who believe that we must accept puppy-mills and factory farming to prevent the “slippery slope” to the abolition of all domestic animals.

    I reject that argument, too.

    We need to find the center and push for change without letting the extremists on both sides win, because if they do, we lose and so do our animals.

    Comment by Gina Spadafori — August 26, 2010 @ 10:11 am

  28. A brilliant, proactive thing to do in addition to low-cost/free spay neuter for low income families is to offer a state tax CREDIT to people who get their pets sterilized. This makes the vets happy, makes the taxpayers happy, and offers incentive to those who CAN afford sterilization but who are otherwise unmotivated to sterilize their pets.

    Comment by Dez — August 26, 2010 @ 10:48 am

  29. I see where K C Dogblog has an anniversary – I thank him as well as Christie Keith, Gina Spadafori, YesBiscuit, Raised by Wolves, BadRap, Terrierman, Lassie Get Help – in the last few years I have learned so much from all of you…and Nathan Winograd…a special gratitude…he started the journey for me with No Kill.

    Comment by mary frances — August 26, 2010 @ 11:39 am

  30. have to add more recently – Valerie Hayes, her story “I was there: one volunteer’s view of a shelter’s transition to No Kill”

    She was there with Nathan Winograd at Tompkins County…this should be read by everyone – we’re not alone and her writing is so good and a great comfort.

    Comment by mary frances — August 26, 2010 @ 11:51 am

  31. I agree, MF… VERY moving!

    Comment by Christie Keith — August 26, 2010 @ 12:19 pm

  32. I have long pushed for Animal Welfare & have tried to educate the public on why they need to understand what is really going on with extremists. I have long been a huge fan of Christie’s and this column is yet another reason why. Great job again!!!

    However – one thing we need to do is get shelters to stop allowing adoptions of unaltered pets. In NJ, any pet adopted from a shelter must be altered first. But not so in other states. If the shelters themselves won’t help us in the fight over unaltered pets — we are at a loss. And now, most vet offices here don’t accept Friends of Animals certificates anymore either. So adopting from a shelter that alters or a rescue that always alters before placement is what I recommend to people if they aren’t buying or wanting a puppy from a reputable breeder (because reputable breeders I recommend will follow up to be sure their puppy gets altered when the time comes or after its done showing, will get altered).

    I’m safe doing that in my area — but how about other states? We need the shelters to step up to the plate and help this by making sure they alter any pet before placement. And that’s where the government should also be putting some of their money — making sure state by state every shelter has the funds so they can alter every pet before its placed — that’s another huge step in helping!

    Comment by Kathy D — August 26, 2010 @ 2:57 pm

  33. Christie, the PDF Download does not seem to exist at the moment. :(

    Comment by JenniferJ — August 26, 2010 @ 4:35 pm

  34. Actually believing there are people in the animal welfare industry who do not have the best interst of animals as the primary goal is very confusing to me also.

    I get very confused because everything Nathan Winograd writes makes sense but then people make vicious comments towards him and it is hard to comprehend why they would do that.

    Regarding PETA, I clearly recall when that issue first arose several years ago, I think I read about it on Khuly’s blog and then read PETA’s self reported information.

    In Iowa, shelters are not required to report kill rates and I so want to believe the shelters are doing the right thing, but do not understand why they would not self report if that is the case. Why would every shelter not choose to be transparent?

    If anyone in Iowa is interested in no kill please contact me through

    Comment by Erich Riesenberg — August 26, 2010 @ 6:03 pm

  35. Just read this on Facebook…
    I’m actually disgusted and pissed off at this article. Hateful generalizations made about people you don’t know. Lumping all of those that may believe there is a time and place for mandatory sterilization together into some group of extremists that don’t love animals because they support it!?! My impression would be that you instead want people to have the right to breed their animals whenever they want or better yet let those that do not give a crap about the animals in their care continue to let them run free producing litter after litter…the FACT is these people DO NOT CARE! My sister runs a no kill rescue group in Los Angeles. Do you know how frustrating it is to go to a shelter to pick up a dog and witness somebody dumping off their adult dog only to turn around and be allowed to adopt a couple of puppies? Do you know where those puppies will be AGAIN in a couple years? The same shelter. These people don’t care about a mandatory spay/neuter law. You can be legally required to get your pets vaccinated and so many people don’t give a rat’s butt about that either. Laws aren’t the problem, people are. In an economic recession, how can we clearly blame this law for the issues in LA? Population constantly on the rise, dogs and cats produce at ridiculous rates and fewer people are able to spend money to adopt, save or support organizations that save animals. Many factors at play. It’s bad everywhere, even without laws like this. And I don’t see any concrete facts provided in this article, just the author’s view. Providing free or low cost spay/neuter programs is a must and will be used by those that are responsible. What about the jerks out there that don’t give a damn? Mandatory with the option to pay a fine instead? Any money collected from people should be used for spay/neuter programs. Having it mandatory while providing services at low cost/no cost? Compromise. Working together toward a goal. This isn’t a poor people problem anymore than being poor gives you the right to leave your yard littered with junk and trash. Anyone can even keep their intact pets from getting pregnant if they care enough. Too many don’t. Stop spreading hate against those that do care about animals and our just plain sick of the ignorance and irresponsibility that plagues communities all over this country. Don’t make excuses for irresponsible people. Dumping in a no kill shelter or a high kill shelter is still putting the life of their pet in someone else’s hands. Good luck getting support from people with this crap.

    Comment by Jessica Lange Arnold — April 6, 2011 @ 6:38 pm

  36. Nice article, but I don’t think the second half is going to impress any Sacramento representatives. Unless the representative is intimately acquainted with the animal welfare community and the factions therein, they are going to think you’re a nutcase, not to put too fine a point on it. It is better to stick to facts and well-chosen examples than conjuring the spectacle of a league of animal haters with the extermination of every companion pet as their goal.

    Comment by Amelia Ireland — April 6, 2011 @ 6:56 pm

  37. Amelia, do you mean except for the part where it worked? You do realize this article is several months old and the legislation failed?

    Comment by Christie Keith — April 6, 2011 @ 7:11 pm

  38. Jessica, you couldn’t have demonstrated my point more perfectly. Thank you.

    Comment by Christie Keith — April 6, 2011 @ 7:12 pm

  39. Christie, I know that SB 250 failed, as I was following it closely at the time. There was so much misinformation spread by both sides that it was difficult to know what to trust. I remember reading this post back then and dismissing it due to the rant in the second half (and I am anti-MSN).

    Comment by Amelia — April 7, 2011 @ 7:27 pm

  40. Of course Christie and Gina left off the disclaimer they also write and represent the AKC. The AKC of course supports puppy mills and isn’t THAT part of the problem?

    Comment by Anonomous — April 8, 2011 @ 2:40 pm

  41. You might have more credibility if you learned how to spell “Anonymous” . . . . . . .

    Comment by The OTHER Pat — April 8, 2011 @ 2:46 pm

  42. I released the comment before this even though it violates our posting guidelines (since “anonomous,” in addition to being misspelled, is not a name) because I wanted to reply to it.

    I’m endlessly amused by all the people who post comments on my work whenever I write about mandatory spay/neuter, “informing” my readers that I have some kind of position with the American Kennel Club. I’ve been called a lobbyist for them, even.

    At the risk of shutting down one of my favorite forms of entertainment (not a great risk, of course, since presumably these people already know it’s a lie when they say it), I do have to point out that I do not now and have never written for nor represented the AKC, nor have I ever lobbied for anyone, including the AKC.

    I believe that some people think that “expressing an opinion” is the equivalent of “lobbying.” It’s unfortunate that vocabulary is no longer taught in the schools, and that dictionaries no longer exist. We should do something about that.

    Thanks for playing, though. :)

    Comment by Christie Keith — April 8, 2011 @ 2:46 pm

  43. For a year as a contracted free-lance writer, I wrote a column for the AKC magazine. That ended in 1989. But I’ve also written for a million or so other publications or websites, also as a contracted free-lance writer. That doesn’t mean I represent the views of any of those publications: free-lance writing is a job.

    So no, I don’t work for the AKC, represent the AKC, blah blah blah. In fact, all you have to do is search for “AKC” on this blog and it’ll be pretty clear that NO ONE here works for or represents the AKC. We call them on their BS just as we’re calling you on yours.

    Anyway, “Anonomous,” given your strong disinclination even find out the truth, well … here’s your hat and there’s the door.

    Comment by Gina Spadafori — April 8, 2011 @ 3:02 pm

  44. This article has no basis in fact. To my knowledge, there has been NO enforcement of mandatory spay/neuter. I can’t wrap my head around this at all.

    Comment by Michelle — May 15, 2011 @ 4:03 pm

  45. Well Michelle, “your knowledge” is sorely lacking then.

    What part can’t you wrap your head around?

    And is it just fine to put laws on the books and then never enforce them? Is that okay with you? Is that what we elect representatives to do for us, blow smoke and undermine the rule of law?

    Comment by H. Houlahan — May 16, 2011 @ 6:32 am

  46. To the other Michelle:

    Are you actually for mandatory s/n laws or are you just okay with them being written since, so far, no one has bothered you or someone you know about it?

    Comment by MichelleB — May 16, 2011 @ 9:52 am

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