Only ISAR “Gets It” About Mandatory Spay/Neuter

In our blog of February 2, 2009, we wrote the following:

ISAR has recently prepared a lengthy monograph entitled The Policy, Law and Morality of Mandatory Spay/Neuter, the thrust of which is that because spay/neuter of companion animals is a moral necessity, “mandatory” spay/neuter laws must actually be mandatory.

The monograph’s author, Professor Henry Mark Holzer, Chairman of ISAR, has written that: “If the previous four chapters of this monograph teach us anything, they speak loudly that there is an intractable companion animal overpopulation problem, that the only current way to alleviate it is by spay/neuter, that sterilization procedures must be made mandatory, and that legislation seeking to acknowledge and treat the overpopulation problem must be draconian, comprehensive, and free from compromises that gut the statutes.”

The principal compromise in all allegedly “mandatory” spay/neuter statutes—except ISAR’s—is the exception given to breeders, which in every statute guts the proposals.

ISAR’s Model Mandatory Spay/Neuter statute virtually puts breeders out of business. Among the provisions which accomplish that goal, are those below:

Section 4. Breeding limitations

(a) A breeding licensee may use a male dog or cat only twice to inseminate a female, which must occur within a twelve month period. No further insemination is allowed thereafter.

(b) A breeding licensee may breed a female cat only twice, which must occur within a twelve month period. No further breeding is allowed thereafter.

(c) The offspring of breeder licensee’s dogs and cats may be retained by the breeding licensee, but they shall be subject to the same restrictions as their sires and dames, as shall be succeeding generations.

(d) The dogs and cats covered by this section regarding insemination and breeding shall be at least four months old, the dogs no older than eighteen months, and the cats no older than twelve months.

(e) Once- or twice-bred female dogs and cats shall be sterilized promptly after delivery of the female animals’ final litters.

(f) Male dogs and cats shall be sterilized promptly after they have twice inseminated females.

(g) Promptly after a male dog or cat has twice inseminated a female, and promptly after a female dog or cat has delivered her final litter, the breeder licensee shall either:

(i) Relinquish such animal to a shelter, humane society, rescue group, or similar organization for adoption only, or

(ii) Directly arrange for adoption, pursuant to the rules and regulations of the nearest shelter, humane society, rescue group, or similar organization; provided, however, that the breeder licensee shall under no circumstances transfer custody of a dog or cat to any individual or entity as to whom the breeder licensee knows, or should know, that the animal will be used for scientific experimental purposes.

(h) No breeding licensee shall release from its custody any dog or cat that has not been sterilized, except to provide temporary veterinary care.

(i) No breeding licensee shall possess in any calendar year more than ten unneutered male dogs, ten unneutered male cats, ten unspayed female dogs, and ten unspayed female cats, except for newborn litters which may be kept for no more than three months at which time the provisions of this statute will apply to them.

Compare these draconian, indeed visionary, provisions of ISAR’s real Model Mandatory Spay/Neuter Statute with HB 451, which has just been introduced in the Florida legislature:

828.35 Sterilization of dogs and cats. (1) The owner of every dog or cat in this state must provide sterilization of the animal by a veterinarian . . . within 30 days after the animal reaches 4 months of age or 30 days after the owner takes custody of the animal, whichever occurs later. This subsection does not apply to an animal exempt from sterilization under subsection (2).

On its face, this sterilization provision seems tough (but not as nearly tough as ISAR’s Model Mandatory Spay/Neuter Statute) but as usual the exemption loopholes emasculate the bill.

For example, under the bill puppy mills can continue to grind out their “product” and completely escape the so-called “mandatory” spay/neuter law simply by moving the animals out from the mills to distributors or retail outlets before they are four months old (as if anyone can tell with certainty how old a puppy is, anyhow). Indeed, the reference to “after the owner takes custody of the animal” impliedly recognizes that the animal had come from somewhere—that “somewhere” is necessarily a breeder (who, as noted, can easily escape the four-month-old rule), or a retail seller who obtained the animal from a breeder.

As if this implicit exemption to the proposed Florida “mandatory” sterilization law isn’t bad enough, the bill contains explicit breeder exemptions as well.

b) The governing body of a county or municipality is authorized to enact ordinances that require the licensure of the following animals that shall be exempt from sterilization: 1. A show animal registered with an established breed registration organization approved by the Division of Animal Industry of the Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services. The department shall adopt rules under [Sections] 120.536(1) and 120.54 63 to administer this subparagraph. 2. A dog or cat that has earned, or is in the process of earning, a competitive sports or training title, including, but not limited to, agility, obedience, or herding. * * * 5. An animal for which the owner has a valid breeding permit issued in accordance with an ordinance of the county or municipality. * * *

In sum, no matter how well intentioned the proposed Florida legislation may be, it suffers from the same defects, both in principle and concretely, as do its counterparts now surfacing around the country. Yet, even that watered-down, deceptive legislation is being strongly opposed by breeders and their organizations.

For example, on January 22, 2009 the American Kennel Club alerted its supporters about the introduction of HB 451: “Legislation that seeks to prohibit persons from owning or maintaining an intact dog or cat older than four months old has been filed in the Florida House. If adopted, Florida House Bill 451 would have a profound negative impact not only on responsible dog breeders in Florida, but also on all current and prospective dog owners. It is vital that all breeders and concerned dog owners in Florida contact their elected state legislators and voice their strong opposition to this unreasonable and unenforceable measure.” (Emphasis in original.)

Lest there be any question about where AKC stands concerning mandatory spay/neuter, even the loophole-ridden, the organization makes itself very clear:

The American Kennel Club opposes the concept of breeding permits, breeding bans, or the mandatory spay/neuter of purebred dogs. Instead, we support reasonable and enforceable laws that protect the welfare and health of purebred dogs and do not restrict the rights of breeders and owners who take their responsibilities seriously. Additionally, we strongly support and actively promote a wide range of programs to educate the public about responsible breeding practices and the responsibilities of dog ownership.

Thus, those like ISAR who are serious about meaningful mandatory spay/neuter, rather than the cosmetic statutes that are worse than no laws at all, must work for introduction and adoption of our Model Mandatory Spay/Neuter Statute, or one much like it. Otherwise, either loophole-ridden statutes will be enacted allowing breeders, including their depraved numbers who operate puppy mills, to argue that adequate legislation exists and henceforth they should be left alone, or no true Mandatory Spay/Neuter Statutes will be enacted.

Either way, breeders win and animals lose.

That’s unacceptable to ISAR.

Breeders and their retail outlets must be shut down, and that’s what ISAR is working hard to accomplish.


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