MANDATORY SPAY/NEUTER - BAD FOR NYC
The NYC "shelter" bill - Intro 655 is a bad bill for many reasons - not least of which is its mandate for spay/neuter.
It was thought that we could legislate away the high rate of shelter killing – it was the perfect quick solution. We would make those people who refused to neuter their cats and dogs obey the law. Make them responsible – no more unwanted births.
Although I supported it and thought it was the correct solution, I remained open minded and began to hear from those who work in the field that it was not having the hoped for results. The cities that had passed MSN were no closer to being No Kill.
Communities like San Mateo, CA and Kings County, WA were considered national role models for this type of legislation. But San Mateo resulted in the first ever increase in shelter cat killings and the King’s County law reduced the number of animals being saved. Los Angeles, which passed this legislation some time later, is far from being a No Kill City.
However, communities like Reno, NV, Austin, TX, Charlottesville, VA and Tompkins, NY are well on their way to being No Kill and they do not have this kind of punitive legislation on the books. They used a different formula. They followed the No Kill Philosophy and the No Kill Equation.
WHY DOES MSN NOT WORK? Studies show that the primary reasons people do not sterilize their pets is cost and lack of access. This results in lower income households, those who are not aware of the law, and irresponsible people not complying in significant numbers.
In The Dark Side of Mandatory Laws, the No Kill Advocacy Center discusses why punitive legislation has failed.Now NYC wants to pass a punishing measure mandating that “free-roaming” cats be spayed and neutered. Field agents in Animal Control are being increased so there will be more officers to pick up these cats. This is what it's going to look like:
- Free roaming cats are either feral, homeless, stray, abandoned, a cat who belongs to someone who is allowed to roam; a cat who got out by mistake, and deli cats who are illegally housed anyway
- There is no way for an Animal Control officer to determine in what category the cat falls – i.e., stray, lost, store cat.
- The Animal Control Officer – since this is his/her job – will pick up these cats – all of them, without discrimination.
- Since these cats will all come in to Animal Care and Control as strays, legally, they have 48 hours in the shelter before they will be killed – that is unless they are determined to be sick or have behavioral problems, then they can be killed immediately. Most cats will be terrified in this kind of a situation and will appear to have “behavioral” problems.
- No one will claim the ferals; The deli store owner will never claim his cat because he was not supposed to have a cat in the first place; If a cat is allowed to go out at will, their caretaker may not even realize they are gone before it is too late. Those who are lost stand the best chance, but if they are not micro chipped, their chance significantly lessens
Punishing legislation does not work and will result in an increase of cats at the all ready over crowded shelters. More will be killed. It is a fantasy to believe that because they are rounded up and brought to the shelter, they will be adopted so readily.
NYC needs to implement life-affirming free or low cost spay neuter programs – make it very accessible and widely advertised. This is the only way to get the kill numbers down.