Manteca, CA

Proposed Manteca California mandatory spay/neuter ordinance

Manteca, CA passed mandatory spay/neuter for pit bull breeds in 2008.  Now their city council is considering extending MSN to all breeds.  All dogs over 6 months of age would need to be spayed or neutered, with very narrow and unworkable exceptions.    A hearing was held on March 30, and the city council is expected to bring up the issue again on April 7.

Manteca residents should contact city  council members to express their opposition to this ordinance, and attend the city council meeting on Tuesday, April 7, at 7 p.m. at the Civic Center, 1001 W. Center St, Manteca.

Remind city council members that the Manteca Police Officers Association and Manteca Police Employees Association opposed AB 1634, which would have extended to the entire state the same law that Manteca is now considering.

Spay/Neuter Health

California veterinarians oppose mandatory spay/neuter laws

Past president of the California Veterinary Medical Association, Dr. John Hamil, wrote:

It is inappropriate to mandate a controversial and possibly life threatening surgical procedure. As CVMA has argued in the past, decisions of this magnitude should be made after consultation between the owner and their veterinarian

DVM Newsmagazine reports that the CVMA withdrew support for a mandatory spay/neuter law because of opposition from CVMA member veterinarians and the veterinary community, and:

A poll of regional veterinary medical associations throughout the state [of California] revealed a majority opposed the pet-sterilization mandate and CVMA’s sponsorship of the initiative


Redemption by Nathan Winograd

No matter whether you oppose mandatory spay/neuter or support it, if you love animals, you owe it to them, and to yourself, to read this book by Nathan J. Winograd.

book cover. REDEMPTION: The Myth of Pet Overpopulation and the No Kill Revolution in America, by Nathan J. WinogradToday, most Americans hold the humane treatment of animals as a personal value, which is reflected in our laws, cultural practices, the proliferation of organizations founded for animal protection, increased per capita spending on animal care, and great advancements in veterinary medicine. But the agencies that the public expects to protect homeless animals are instead killing more than five million animals annually. And for far too long, we have been led to believe that there is no other way.

In 1994, however, one shelter embarked on a bold and revolutionary approach to animal sheltering. Although every national animal welfare agency said it was impossible and every other community in the country continued to kill animals at an astonishing rate, San Francisco became the first city in the United States to end the killing of healthy homeless dogs and cats in shelters. The No Kill movement it inspired has the potential to end, once and for all, the century-old notion that the best we can do for homeless dogs and cats is to adopt out a few, and kill the rest.

This is the story of animal sheltering in the United States, a movement that was born of compassion and then lost its way. It is the story of the No Kill movement, which says we can and must stop the killing. It is about heroes and villains, betrayal and redemption. And it is about a social movement as noble and just as those that have come before. But most of all, it is a story about believing in the community and trusting in the power of compassion.

You can get it from Amazon, Barnes&Noble and most other on-line and local book sellers.

Shelter Population

Facts about California Shelter Statistics

Data from the California Department of Health Services, Veterinary Public Health section shows that intake and euthanasia rates for dogs in California have been falling steadily for decades. Althought there is still a way to go, the state is on the right track. The NAIA Shelter Project has detailed statistics for local jurisdictions and the state as a whole.

The number of dogs euthanized in California is down an amazing 43% in just the last 5 years, and more than 75% since the numbers peaked in the mid 1970s. This happened without widespread mandatory spay/neuter laws, and despite a large increase in the state’s human population. The state is making real progress though voluntary programs.

Line graph showing California state wide numbers of dogs impounded and euthanized from 1973 to 2005. Both lines show a steep consistent downward trend. Approximately 800,000 dogs impounded in 1974 to 350,000 in 2005. Approximately 550,000 dogs euthanized in 1974 to 120,000 in 2005 including a 43% reduction in euthanasias from 2000 to 2005.

The programs that were implemented statewide over this period and are responsible for this success are:

  • dog owner education programs
  • improved enforcement of leash laws and “at large” laws
  • low-cost voluntary spay/neuter outreach programs

These are programs that are proven to work. The state of California should encourage the expansion of these successful programs rather than try to a implement mandatory spay/neuter law which has proven it doesn’t work.

The supporters cite Santa Cruz as a model for the rest of the state, but if you compare Santa Cruz with adjacent counties you can see that Santa Cruz is actually making less progress than its neighbors.

Line graph showing per capita dog impound rates for Santa Cruz, Santa Clara, Alameda, and Contra Costa Counties. All four lines trend generally down. Santa Cruz has the highest rate and the slowest downward trend, especially since their mandatory spay/neuter ordinance passed in 1995. Line graph showing per capita dog euthanasia rates for Santa Cruz, Santa Clara, Alameda, and Contra Costa Counties. All four lines trend generally down. Santa Cruz has shown the least progress of the four since their mandatory spay/neuter ordinance passed in 1995.

Supporters of mandatory spay/neuter claim that it will save taxpayers millions of dollars. Not if Santa Cruz is any indication. The 1994-2000 data is missing, but from 1993, shortly before the ordinance went into effect, to 2005, the Animal Services Annual budget ballooned from $648,000 to $1.4 million dollars, a 216% increase. California state and local government cannot afford such massive cost increases.

Line graph showing the Santa Cruz County Animal Services budget from 1991 to 2005. The line increases sharply over that period from $626,000 in 1991 to $1.4 million in 2005.
Shelter Population

Giving Up on Our Best Friends

The evidence is clear. People are not in the know. When it comes to problem solving, some pet owners do not have adequate knowledge to determine solutions. They are unaware what may be contributing to the problems they face. Many are experiencing the results of unrealistic expectations. The bottom line? Animals, who otherwise might remain happily in their homes are relinquished to shelters across the country.
— Exploring the Surplus Cat and Dog Problem

Their results suggested that education and counseling of pet owners before and after they acquire a pet, and providing temporary housing for pets when owners are experiencing a personal crisis may reduce relinquishment of pets.
— Exploring the Surplus Cat and Dog Problem

Exploring the Surplus Cat and Dog Problem by the National Council on Pet Population Study & Policy summarizes the results of a large research study on why people relinquish their dogs and cats to shelters. This paper is for a general audience, meaning you and me. The academic papers that came out of the same research are also available on their site.

MS/N Legislation

The Dark Side of Mandatory Licensing and Neuter Laws: Why Punitive Legislation Fails

At a time when shelters are killing the majority of animals they are taking in, they are successfully seeking legislation which gives them authority to impound even more animals. Since they claim they have little choice but to kill most animals, the animals now in violation of a new law or ordinance have little hope of getting out alive. It is hardly surprising that many jurisdictions actually see impound and kill rates increase after passage of these laws.

Nathan Winograd is possibly the foremost proponent of No-Kill shelters. He was the operations director of the San Francisco SPCA, Executive Director of the Tompkins County (NY) SPCA, and founder of No-Kill Advocacy Center, a group dedicated to helping shelters achieve no-kill. In the most recent issue of No Kill Sheltering magazine, Mr. Winograd explains why mandatory spay/neuter laws fail.

Spay/Neuter Health

American Veterinary Medical Association destroys case for mandatory spay/neuter

A new American Veterinary Medical Association report disputes claims that pets should be spayed or neutered for population control reasons, or that spay and neuter is always healthy for pets. The report finds adverse effects from spay and neuter include increased risks of prostate cancer, bone cancer, bladder cancer, hemangiosarcoma, obesity, diabetes, aggression, ligament rupture, and complications from surgery.

After reviewing the risks and benefits associated with spay and neuter of cats and dogs, the report concludes:javma_cover

Pets should be considered individually, with the understanding that for these pets, population control is a less important concern than is health of each animal….veterinarians and owners must consider the benefits and detriments of gonadectomy for each animal… It behooves us as veterinarians dedicated to the provision of the best possible care for animals to educate clients and evaluate each animal carefully when making recommendations regarding gonadectomy.

That’s the latest word from America’s leading association of veterinarians. The best interests of the individual patient are what should determine when or whether a pet should be spayed or neutered. This is a medical decision, to be decided by a pet owner in consultation with their veterinarian. One size does not fit all, and should not be mandated by the state.

Spay/Neuter Health

Summary of health affects of spay/neuter

The full version of the paper summarized below, complete with all references to the veterinary medical research cited, is available. This paper reports some of the adverse behavioral impacts of early spay/neuter.

An objective reading of the veterinary medical literature reveals a complex situation with respect to the long-term health impacts of spay/neuter in dogs. The evidence shows that spay/neuter correlates with both positive and adverse health effects in dogs. It also suggests how much we really do not yet understand about this subject.

On balance, it appears that no compelling case can be made for neutering most male dogs, especially immature male dogs, in order to prevent future health problems. The number of health problems associated with neutering may exceed the associated health benefits in most cases.

On the positive side, neutering male dogs

  • eliminates the small risk (probably <1%) of dying from testicular cancer
  • reduces the risk of non-cancerous prostate disorders
  • reduces the risk of perianal fistulas
  • may possibly reduce the risk of diabetes (data inconclusive)

On the negative side, neutering male dogs

  • if done before maturity, increases the risk of osteosarcoma (bone cancer) by a factor of 3.8; this is a common cancer in medium/large and larger breeds with a poor prognosis
  • increases the risk of cardiac hemangiosarcoma by a factor of 1.6; this is a common cancer and major cause of death in some breeds
  • triples the risk of hypothyroidism
  • increases the risk of geriatric cognitive impairment
  • triples the risk of obesity, and with it many of the associated health problems
  • quadruples the small risk (<0.6%) of prostate cancer
  • doubles the small risk (<1%) of urinary tract cancers
  • increases the risk of orthopedic disorders
  • increases the risk of adverse reactions to vaccinations

For female dogs, the situation is more complex. The number of health benefits associated with spaying may exceed the associated health problems in some (not all) cases. On balance, whether spaying improves the odds of overall good health or degrades them probably depends on the age of the female dog and the relative risk of various diseases in the different breeds.

On the positive side, spaying female dogs

  • if done before 2.5 years of age, greatly reduces the risk of mammary tumors, the most common tumors in female dogs
  • nearly eliminates the risk of pyometra, which otherwise would infect about 23% of intact female dogs; pyometra kills about 1% of intact female dogs
  • reduces the risk of perianal fistulas
  • removes the very small risk (<0.5%) from uterine, cervical, and ovarian tumors

On the negative side, spaying female dogs

  • if done before maturity, increases the risk of osteosarcoma by a factor of 3.1; this is a common cancer in larger breeds with a poor prognosis
  • increases the risk of splenic hemangiosarcoma by a factor of 2.2 and cardiac hemangiosarcoma by a factor of more than 5; this is a common cancer and major cause of death in some breeds
  • triples the risk of hypothyroidism
  • increases the risk of obesity by a factor of 1.6 – 2, and with it the many associated health problems
  • causes urinary spay incontinence in 4-20% of female dogs
  • increases the risk of persistent or recurring urinary tract infections by a factor of 3-4
  • increases the risk of recessed vulva, vaginal dermatitis, and vaginitis, especially for female dogs spayed before puberty
  • doubles the small risk (<1%) of urinary tract tumors
  • increases the risk of orthopedic disorders
  • increases the risk of adverse reactions to vaccinations

One thing is clear—much of the spay/neuter information that is available to the public is unbalanced and contains claims that are exaggerated or unsupported by evidence. Rather than helping to educate pet owners, much of this has contributed to common misunderstandings about the long-term health impacts of spay/neuter in dogs.

The traditional spay/neuter age of six months as well as the modern practice of pediatric spay/neuter appear to predispose dogs to health risks that could otherwise be avoided by waiting until the dog is physically mature, or (perhaps in the case of many male dogs) foregoing it altogether unless medically necessary.

The balance of long-term health risks and benefits of spay/neuter will vary from one dog to the next. Across-the-board assertions that spay/neuter will improve the health of all pet dogs do not appear to be supportable from findings in the veterinary medical literature. This is especially true of spay/neuter before physical maturity.

SB 250

Analysis of SB250 as introduced

This analysis is based on the language of the bill as introduced. We have seen some alternative language, but nothing official. If and when the bill is amended, we will provide an updated analysis.

zombieThis bill is very similar to the last amended version of AB1634. It is vague, poorly written, unworkable, will cost the state millions of dollars, and will cause the needless deaths of untold numbers of dogs. Make no mistake, this bill will increase the killing, just like every other mandatory spay/neuter law.

To the best of our understanding an “unaltered dog license” is the same as the license the owner of an intact dog currently gets when paying the state mandated differential license fee, however the bill does not clearly state this. If this is not the case then the state or the local jurisdictions will have to pay to administer another licensing program, further increasing costs.

The only exemption is for health. This means that every intact dog temporarily in the state is in violation, including dogs in transit at airports, dogs entered in dog events, and dogs traveling with out of state owners.

There is no exemption for young dogs. At the moment a puppy is whelped it is in violation. This bill mandates altering neonatal puppies which is arguably animal abuse and a violation of veterinary good practice.

A “custodian” of an intact dog must have an unaltered dog license. Is a boarding kennel a “custodian”? If the dog’s owner has an unaltered dog license for the dog, does that cover the “custodian”?  If not then no intact dog can be legally boarded. If the owner has a dog sitter come to his house, is the dog sitter a “custodian”? If so and if the owner’s license does not cover the dog sitter then dog owners can not travel without their dog.

The conditions under which a license can be denied are vague and inappropriate.

A license can be denied if the owner has two complaints “verified by the agency”. “Verified by the agency” could mean anything. It does not seem to require any process of law. It could mean only that the agency verified that someone complained rather than verified that the facts of the complaint were true and constituted a violation of law.

“Otherwise been found to be neglectful of his or her or other animals” could mean anything. It does not seem to require any violation of law. This imposes altering a dog as punishment for an infraction that has no relationship to the intact status of the dog. If the state considers altering a dog as a punishment, then how can the state expect owners to voluntarily alter their dogs. There is a relationship between repeatedly running at large and altering the dog, but not unspecified “neglectful” actions.

“violating a state law, or a city, county, or other local governmental provision relating to the care and control of animals” again uses altering the dog as a punishment. We cannot support any bill which treats altering the dog as a punishment for an offense unrelated to the animal’s intact status.

“The unaltered dog has been adjudicated by a court or an agency of appropriate jurisdiction to be potentially dangerous, dangerous, or vicious, or to be a nuisance.” The scientific literature on altering aggressive dogs is mixed, however there is no nexus between unspecified “nuisance” behavior and the dog’s intact status. Again this is using altering the dog as a punishment.

“Any unaltered dog license held by the applicant has been revoked.” What if the license was revoked improperly and was later reinstated. It is still grounds to deny a subsequent license.

“the applicant may re-apply for a license upon changed circumstances” The fact that a license has been revoked, that the owner has violated animal control law, or has been complained about twice is a circumstance that cannot change. Once any of these happens that owner has no recourse and should expect to have every future license application denied. This is extreme.

There are no limitations on the conditions under which a license can be revoked. Once revoked the owner is forever subject to having future requests denied.

If the owner cannot get an unaltered dog license, they cannot sell the unaltered dog since an unaltered dog license is required to sell an unaltered dog. This requires that even someone selling an eight week old puppy apply for and receive an unaltered dog license.

Section (i)(1) attempts to mitigate the above by stating that an owner can be punished for not have the required unaltered dog license only if “cited” for any of a list of other violations. This does not change the fact that it is against state law to have an intact dog without an unaltered dog license. The original state seat belt law made it a secondary offense to drive without a seat belt. Although drivers could not be stopped for not wearing a seat belt, it was still illegal. Any suggestion that the excesses of this law are mitigated by this provision is a statement that the law intends dog owners to violate the law. That is bad law and insulting to dog owners.

Many of the specified violations that lead to invoking the license law are unrelated to a dogs intact status. Again this is using the threat of altering the dog or getting an unaltered dog license as a punishment.

Section (j) requires that any owner redeeming an impounded dog must have the dog altered or already have an unaltered dog license. This will result in more dogs remaining in the pound as many owners will not or cannot pay to have their dog altered. As we have seen even successful free/low cost spay/neuter programs are frequently cut back and eliminated. This will result in a disparate impact on low income dog owners.

Section (k) imposes the full cost of impounding an unaltered dog on the owner, again reducing the number of dogs redeemed by their owners due to cost.

The bill is vague. It treats altering a dog as a punishment. Unaltered dog licenses can be forever denied after even one unrelated violation or two “verified” complaints. This punishment is disproportionate to the offense. The owner is not protected by appropriate legal process.

The law seems to expect that many dog owners will be forced to violate it as a matter of course: e.g. travelers visiting the state, owners of newly whelped puppies, etc. This is bad law and only encourages disrespect for the law. It is insulting to dog owners as it implies that they are law breakers who will casually disregard state law.

Most dramatically it will greatly increase the number of dogs surrendered to shelters. Owners who cannot get unaltered dog licenses cannot sell or give away unaltered dogs and if they cannot pay to alter the dog they have no choice but to surrender the dog to the shelter*. Owners of unaltered, unlicensed dogs that are impounded must pay substantial fees and costs to recover the dog. This will result in more dogs being relinquished to the shelter rather than reunited with their owner. There is no exception for dogs impounded through no fault of their owner. In a recent case in NY a man’s car was broken into releasing the intact dog inside. The dog was impounded through no fault of his owner.

[* It is not even clear that an owner can surrender an unaltered dog to a shelter without an unaltered dog license. If shelters are the owners or custodians of the dogs, then perhaps shelters must have unaltered dog licenses for all of the dogs under their control.]

Given the appalling rate at which Kern County shelters kill dogs, this bill will undoubtedly result in many more dogs being killed in Senator Florez’s district.


We’re Back

Movie poster from Terminator 2 with Arnold SchwarzeneggerSave Our Dogs is back, taking up the fight against Son-of-AB 1634, SB250. We have re-engineered the web site to make it easier for us to maintain, and to provide some new features. We will be adding a lot of content in the coming days. Until we do, you may find some “No Pages Found” messages. Just hang on, we are working on it.

All of the AB 1634 pages are still available in the AB 1634 Archive. This archive is a copy of as it existed shortly after AB 1634 was defeated.