Track Record

Mandatory Spay/Neuter Laws—A Failure Everywhere

Santa Cruz County, California

  • 1995 mandatory spay/neuter ordinance
  • change in shelter intakes and euthanasia rates are no better than the state average
  • animal control costs doubled after passage
  • Animal control costs “spiraling” out of control, according to a Santa Cruz Sentinel investigation
  • Capitola canceled animal services contract with county due to rising costs
  • Watsonville threatening to pull out due to rising costs
  • licensing compliance dropped significantly
Supporters of AB 1634 frequently claim that Santa Cruz County had a 50+% reduction in shelter intakes after they imposed mandatory spay/neuter in 1995. This is not true. There is no way to take the official shelter data published by California’s Department of Health Services (CDHS), or any subset, and generate this amazing Big Lie that AB 1634 supporters have been claiming. Every single data point on their impressive-looking chart is a total fabrication.
If you are curious how this compares to the shelter data Santa Cruz County actually submitted to the CDHS, as required by state law, here are the comparisons for dogs and for cats.

San Mateo County, California

  • 1991 mandatory spay/neuter ordinance
  • dog deaths in the areas governed by the ordinance, increased 126% and cats 86%, but decreased in parts of the county not governed by the ordinance
  • dog licenses declined by 35%
The nation’s first mandatory spay/neuter law was in San Mateo County, CA. It was primarily pushed by the Peninsula Humane Society (PHS). The PHS assessed the San Mateo MSN law to have been “disappointing” since it led to increases in shelter killing. As a result, the PHS does not support CA AB 1634. Note that the supporters of AB 1634 do not even mention San Mateo because it is so widely recognized as a failure.

Los Angeles, California

  • passed mandatory spay/neuter ordinance in early 2008
  • 30% increase in euthanasias in 2008
  • 20% increase in impounds in 2008
  • reversed many years of progress
  • 2000 mandatory spay or pay ordinance
  • Decline in licensing compliance since passage of this ordinance
  • Animal control budget after passage of the law rose 269%, from $6.7 million to $18 million.
  • City hired additional animal control officers and bought new trucks and equipment just to enforce the new law

Montgomery County, Maryland

  • mandatory spay/neuter law was passed but later repealed as a failure
  • 50% decline in licensing compliance while ordinance in effect
  • Euthanasia rates declined more slowly than before the ordinance passed

Fort Worth, Texas

  • ended its mandatory spay/neuter program
  • licensing compliance fell off after passage of the ordinance
  • There was a reduction in rabies vaccinations which lead to an increase in rabies in the city

King County, Washington

  • 1992 mandatory spay/neuter ordinance
  • License compliance decreases since passage of the ordinance.
  • Animal control expenses increased 56.8% and revenues only 43.2%.
  • In 1990 animal controls were $1,662,776. By 1997 animal control costs were $3,087,350.
  • Euthanasia rates fell at a slower rate after passage of the ordinance.
King County, WA is commonly held up by supporters as an example of MSN success. These two articles illustrate how MSN supporters spin the data.

Aurora, Colorado

  • mandatory spay/neuter ordinance
  • licensing compliance has dropped dramatically.

Pinellas County, Florida

  • breeder licensing since 1992
  • animal control budget increased 75% with revenue increasing only 13%.
  • shelter intake and euthanasia rates increased after the law took effect