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.
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.
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.