Should spaying/neutering of pets be mandatory?

Posted at 6:10 PM, Apr 29, 2016
and last updated 2016-04-29 18:10:40-04

Many animal experts and advocates believe the best way to control the overpopulation of dogs and cats is to spay and neuter the animal.

Some animal experts and advocates believe the overpopulation problem in Detroit alone has been so out of control for so long, they believe it's time for cities like Detroit and Highland Park to consider adopting mandatory spay/neuter laws. And giving residents the resources and opportunities to have their pets fixed through low-cost and free services for those who cannot afford it.

Experts say the procedure improves temperament and leads to animals living healthier and longer lives. Fixed pets are also less likely to runaway.

Detroit Dog Rescue, a non-profit rescue and shelter, will soon be offering 100 Detroit citizens the opportunity to have their dog spayed or neutered free of charge. To find out more, call (313) 458-8013.

All About Animals is also dedicated to ending pet overpopulation. All About Animals offers low-cost and sometimes free spay/neuter services. To find out more, call 586-879-1745.

Workers and volunteers of The Michigan Anti-Cruelty Society say if a person cannot afford to pay for the service, they will spay or neuter their dog or cat at no charge. For more information, please call 313-891-7188.

The Michigan Humane Society (MHS) and Detroit Animal Care & Control (DACC) do not support mandatory spay/neuter laws.

Here is a statement from Michigan Humane Society:

MHS does NOT support mandatory spay/neuter laws.

MHS fully supports the existing law - which MHS championed in the mid-1990s - that requires all animals adopted from shelters in Michigan to be sterilized. Philosophically, MHS believes all animals leaving a shelter, whether through adoption or stray reclaiming, should be sterilized. MHS believes that voluntary, community-based, programs that are well understood and accessible are superior to those of mandatory programs.  MHS’ free pitbull sterilization program and feral cat TNR program are examples of voluntary programs.  To reinforce our commitment to sterilization, MHS has spayed/neutered more than 125,000 animals in the past 10 years.

While the concept of mandatory sterilization programs may be well intended, it fails to allow for individual freedoms and rights of those who demonstrate responsible pet ownership and care.  Furthermore, it is likely to serve as disincentive for some individuals to seek proper veterinary care for their animals, in order to avoid “detection.”  This can lead to an increase in diseases amongst dogs and cats, as well as in zoonotic diseases that can affect people, thereby putting community health at risk and exacerbating current animal-related issues.

Again, MHS believes a more positive approach, where incentives for sterilization are provided (reduced licensing fees, tax incentives, etc.) in conjunction with accessible and affordable sterilization programs, will be more effective.  However, exceptions would include animals that are consistently running at large/impounded or are involved in any sort of aggressive behavior. In these instances, we believe sterilization should be mandatory.”

Here's a statement from DACC's Director Melissa Miller:

In the professional sheltering community, mandatory spay/neuter laws requiring all animals to be sterilized have been studied and deemed ineffective. Unless there are enough low-cost or free programs for the population effected, these laws are difficult to enforce, largely criminalize pet owners at the lower socioeconomic levels, and result in increase of owner surrendered animals into the shelter system.

Detroit Animal Care and Control believes increased access to and information about humane care standards, free or low-cost sterilization programs, and emphasis on owner retention and shelter invention is the most effective strategy toward addressing pet overpopulation.

As a public safety measure, DACC does believe requiring microchipping and sterilization for dogs repeatedly found at-large is an appropriate intervention.

DACC is thankful for the partnership with reputable rescues, outreach organizations, and shelters that work within the city to bring more information and free or low-cost spay and neuter programs to our citizens.