I’d like to do a really good job researching mandatory spay/neuter laws and their effects on shelter stats. Some day.
When I say “Mandatory Spay/Neuter Law” I’m thinking of those requiring all dogs and cats to be fixed, with limited exceptions. It only makes sense that a municipality requiring spay/n would make some provision for people who can’t afford it at the same time, in which case, it would be hard to say if it was the law that made a difference. I’d need to compare 1) mandatory s/n with free s/n available, 2) mandatory s/n without free option, 3) no mandatory, but free, 4) no mandatory, no free.
PETA has a list of areas with such laws and the details. http://www.peta.org/issues/companion-animal-issues/overpopulation/spay-neuter/model-spay-neuter-ordinances/
Just for a quick experiment, I looked at the first California County on their list with such a law.
- Spaying and neutering is mandatory for dogs and cats over the age of 4 months.
- Anyone intentionally caring or providing for a dog or cat is declared the “owner” of that animal and must sterilize that animal accordingly.
- Certain animals are exempted from this ordinance’s provisions.
The provisions of this are affective as of June 1, 2006 Lakeport City Spay/Neuter Ordinance (6.24.090–6.24.110) and Clearlake City Spay/ Neuter Ordinance (7-10.1–7.10.3) are exactly the same as the County Spay/ Neuter Ordinance.
Since I have my lovely CA spreadsheet, it was easy to plug in Lake County and see:
The dip may mean variations in how many shelters reported. Although there was a sharp drop in 2001 and several years before peaking again. Possibly a shelter closed and it took several years before the slack was taken up by other shelters.
But when I see a steady decline in intake over a period of years, such as we see here for cats after 2008, I’m inclined to think we’re seeing a real decline in the homeless cat population, not a change in shelter intake policy of a reporting glitz. From the law? If the sun weren’t out right now calling me to do yard work, I’d look for a s/n clinic that opened in 2008 as a more likely cause. [I’ve looked. I haven’t found one. Looks like there’s been one at the SPCA of Clear Lake doing 1200 per year since at least 2003.]
Sadly, there’s no such decline seen here for dogs. That doesn’t surprise me. The homeless dog problem is much more complicated than the situation for cats.