Alternative Ideas To Mandated Spay Neuter

The issues relating to shelters, why people give up pets to shelters and pet adoption are very complex. I don't maintain to have all the answers. Still, I do have some ideas.

For sure, what won't work - that's mandatory spay/neuter. There's new information which demonstrates how MSN has failed, maybe even costing communities more money and animals more lives.

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So, what can we do?

- Sociologists tell me that Government can't overnight mandate cultural changes with laws which don't make sense (to the population that would be affected) and are not likely to be enforced anyway. In fact, the attempt to mandate these cultural changes may be offensive and counter-productive.

It's ironic that in Chicago, we already have a solution demonstrating effectiveness, called Safe Humane Chicago. A part of their function is reach into the community and work with the community to affect change demonstrating kindness and compassion to animals. Safe Humane participates with community leaders, schools and young people.

In general, animal welfare experts have been behind shelter animal related initiatives. I propose getting sociologists and psychologists involved; they have the expertise on how to affect change.

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-  We know finances are an issue, more people giving up pets because of foreclosures. We happen to have a superb resource here, Realtors to the Rescue.

Also, people giving up animals because they can not afford veterinary care. Again, we have the start of local help, called the Trio Animal Foundation.  That's better than most cities - but the need is greater than one group.

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- Perhaps the most prevalent explanation for people giving up pets are behavior issues (or perceived behavior issue - the pet is behaving naturally, like urinating - it's where the pet is urinating that matters). Increasingly, shelters in the Chicago area following the Anti Cruelty Society lead on this, offering behavior advice. Legendary veterinary behaviorist Dr. R.K. Anderson has looked at the data for decades. He says that if there are no behavioral concerns the bond with the pet and the family is stronger, making it less likely that when something happens - like the family needs to move, that the pet will ever be left behind.


-Due to the economy, low cost spay/neuter is more important than ever. We know that for this to be most effective, providing mobile services is very important - going to people who may not be able to visit you or inclined to. We have these mobile services in Chicago, but our resources are not focused on them.  

- Begin a campaign to keep cats indoors. If we can succeed at this - cats will be spay/neutered! Also, they will be safer (living indoors is safer than life outside), and fewer stray cats and fewer injuries and behavior issues relating to being indoors/outdoors (lessening relinquishments as well).


Meanwhile, encourage trap/neuter/return (volunteer caretakers trap colony cats, spay/neuter, vaccinate for rabies - which is important for public health reasons, and in Chicago microchip). Tree House Humane Society has carved a special TNR niche, and this resource is in Chicago and ready to snip.  

- And shelters, rescues, etc. should be communicating and working together to share resources and exchange animals as they can to best find forever homes...unfortunately, right now, there's a massive road block to this spirit of trust in Chicago. The good news is that Denver, and many other cities are succeeding.


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  • You're an idiot. Those aren't solutions! It's not so much about owners giving up their animals (for economic, behavioral or any other reason, but stray animals that enter the shelter system.

    I work at a "high-kill" shelter and let me tell you owner releases make up for a small percentage of the animals brought to our shelter. Strays, dogs and cats, make up 96% of our animal population.

    4,300 dogs and puppies were euthanized at our shelter last year. Of those 4,300, roughly 1,100 were puppies undere the age of 4 months!

    MSN will work.

    Oh and it is proven that male, unaltered, dogs are the most resposnible for dog bites every year.

  • In reply to ClaudeWest:

    Where has MSN worked? And no, it is NOT proven - I can offer a long list of citations, or do you own internet search....or maybe a behaviorist can chime in - one already did actually on a previous post...unaltered male dogs may be more aggressive to other dogs (males in particular). And they want to roam, so being beyond a fence and not a leash, sure anything can happen. But inherently, no more or less aggressive.

    Thank you for the work you do - but calling others names is not a solution. By the way, the ASPCA, and a long, long, long list agree concerning mandatory spay/neuter.

  • In reply to SteveDale:

    And where you with 1,100 puppies under 4 months euthanized! That's hard to comprehend.

  • In reply to SteveDale:

    County shelters have always had HIGH kill rates. Full access shelters bear the heavy burden of an over populated animal community. Not the ASPCA, who do absolutely nothing! Please do not "quote" the ASPCA. Every shelter in AMerica would agree that the ASPCA is a hinderance. They get all the credit, take all the donor dollars! They claim to be helping animals all over the country but all they really do is run a shelter out of New York.

    Last year we euthanized nearly 13,000 animals from an incoming population of 15,400. The remaining 2,400 were redeemed to their owner ,transferred to the correct shelters' jurisdiction that the animal should have gone to in the first place, and adopted (900 were adopted.) Your ideas are too grand... we need real solutions not psychological studies into the human condition.

    SPaying and neutering needs to be inforced. And so should mandatory microchipping. Everyone has to get their cars smogged for the benefit of the environment.Same principle applies. Cars are property. Animals are property.People need to be made responsible for taking care of their pets and until there is a law in place people will continue to let their pets roam unaltered and leave them in shelters, like mine, to die.

  • In reply to ClaudeWest:

    Hey Claude- I agree that the concept of MSN is a good one but the execution of that concept is where we seem to be falling short. It's tough for me to discount the human element because I firmly believe that we are part of the problem. Where are you located? 13,000 animals euthanized last year is an intolerable number and I understand why you would be angry at people who oppose MSN. How do we hold people accountable? Passing laws is a start but if those laws are not enforced then the whole process is a waste of time, money and energy. There is no question that people need to take responsibility for their animals but I think the point that Steve was making is that you can't "force" a person to take responsibility. I'm all for harsher punishments to ensure that people are "choosing" to make a responsible decision in regards to their pets/property. What is an acceptable punishment for failure to comply? A year in prison for each life they are "responsible" for creating due to their negligence? Making them research and find solutions to the very problem that landed them in there in the first place? I know those are unrealistic alternatives but if people can't understand why they need to spay/neuter then there should be significant repercussions. Agree on the point that we need to find real solutions but I do also believe that we have to clearly identify the problem and (in my opinion) it goes beyond just common sense spay/neuter. Something different needs to be done. !3,000 lives lost is unacceptable.

  • In reply to CDignan:

    Chris - taking a page from you book -

  • In reply to SteveDale:

    OK OK. I'll research reward-based human behavior studies and try to apply it to spay/neuter. Who doesn't love a token economy anyway:) I'll get back to you.

  • In reply to ClaudeWest:

    Lots of issues with mandatory spay/neuter....interesting you say, YOU say it needs to be enforced. One problem with that law is that is can't be enforced. Lots of reasons for that. Who would enforce it? How? It's not been enforced. I'm not for MSN for lots of reasons, one is very simply. I am personally not for any law that can not be enforced. What's the point of that?

    Big reason - it hasn't worked. Just out the FACTS. It hasn't. I have a blog post with data from California. Even the most vocal supporters of MSN, and biggest bucks - the HSUS has back off the idea for California.

    Oh and what give government the right to tell us when to do what to our dogs? It turns out (and again - want citations, I can offer) researchers are finding with some disease, mostly - so far - cancer...early spay/neuter is potentially detrimental in some breeds. One example, hemangiosarcoma (a really aggressive cancer) in Rottweilers spayed or neutered before 6 months. I am not saying Rottweiler owners shouldn't spay/neuter. I am saying when to do it should be up to the owners and vets, not government.

    And despite an enormous problem where you are (you didn't answer where)....that's not at all the case all over the country. In fact, in places (New England, East Coast, and many urban areas), not only are owners spay/neutering, but also shelters even have a shortage of dogs. Or at least adoptable dogs.

    My question - with all the push towards spay/neuter - for those not doing it. Let's figure out why they're not. Make all the laws you want - they still won't (if even they were enforced). Animal people may not know the answers....I don't. But maybe people who are expert in social change can tell us.

  • In reply to ClaudeWest:

    We have all been in the trenches for a long time and calling Steve names just shows how ignorant you are! He is out there everyday trying to make a difference for all companaion animals. Take a step back and try seeing things with out your jade collored glasses on. I spend everyday advocating for Pitbulls to be spayed and neutered and I still think MSN is not the way to quell the tide. There are lots of opinions and many approaches to a solution, if someone had it all figured out, we wouldn't need to continue this conversation. Try being constructive in your comments rather than insulting.

  • In reply to PitbullWrangler:

    First, thank you PitBullLover - while anyone who works in rescue deserves my praise, multiply that by 10 for those who work for Pitty THANK YOU -

    Yes - there is more to figure out. I believe we've gone as far as we can with the paradigm we have. And I've helped (and others have as well) to bring experts together to hopefully take us to the next level. The last time the issues circling around shelters, euthanasia, etc etc etc was discussed was the 80's. We need to have that conversation again. A conversation, not a hollering match. I agree with that- we are all in the same boat, let's find a way to paddle in the same direction.

  • In reply to SteveDale:

    Leave a comment...

  • In reply to SteveDale:

    Steve, I don't think people understand how hard you work or that no one cares more than you. We have sat together at many meetings and I know your aim is true!!! Keep up the good work. I think you can figure out who The PitbullLover is! :)

  • In reply to SteveDale:

    Well, between all of everything flying back and forth - I can't say I know who anyone is here.

    Don't people have real names anymore? But I appreciate you reading the blog, and appreciate the comments.

  • In reply to SteveDale:

    Ha, funny on the "real names":) Wow - you were right about a bit of rough crowd - Claude seems to have gone over the edge right at the start!

    I have always agreed with you Steve in that you can't solve problems until people are willing to sit down at the same table and talk about how to fix them. Name calling, no matter how irritated you might be, helps nothing and puts that person who does it in a poor light. We are all really frustrated - some of us more often than others and that takes a toll on the way we see the world.

    I've always enjoyed learning from you - there are so many areas of expertise and perspectives to consider in these topics, and you are closely tied to many of them. And I know people in Claude's position just want something to happen right now, today, to fix it - make it so he doesn't have to kill animals for hours every day. To him, MSN seems like a very attractive solution, but it is just smoke and mirrors. Just imagine if laws were actually enforced:) I'd have lots of speeding tickets for one, the FDA would actually police our food supply, there would be no diseased or euthanized animals in pet food, China would be SOL and many containers would be shipped back, puppy mills would be shut down across the,nice dream.(Not the ticket part)

    I think it is as you suggested time for a national conversation on this.

  • In reply to SteveDale:

    Hi Steve - new to the blog. Great job. I've enjoyed reading through some of your posts. Sorry I'm so late to the party. Found your comment on the DancingDogBlog with a link to another post of yours. Thought I'd follow along.

    I'd like to share something with Claude, if he's still around a month later! Not so much a challenge as encouragement to look at a new approach to sheltering. All others, please follow along...

    Steve, you wrote,"And shelters, rescues, etc. should be communicating and working together to share resources and exchange animals..."

    Claude, please follow the link below and read this one simple page that outlines what I believe to be the future of animal rescue. Towards the bottom of the page is a section that begins to point at what you mentioned in that quote above, Steve.

    Link to overview =

    If you'd like to see a more detailed outline of this page, I am currently rolling out (unveiling?) this new model of "sheltering" on a blog at Animal Rescuers Coalition of North America ( Here's the link =

    I encourage everyone to follow along - check it out and join in. Steve's addressing the "now," while I address the future. Claude, I hope this gives you some inspiration for changes at your shelter.

    Thanks, Steve, for letting me jump in here.

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    put in a law that says its illegal to let 2 unsterilized dogs/(overpopulated types of animals) within breeding range, dogs can breed thru fence, so it must be at least 1 foot apart. each time someone is caught letting 2 unsterilizted dogs within breeding range, force them to sterilize all the pets they ever own forever(except pets who are medically ineldegiable due to being alergic to anesthsia, to young, or too unhealthy), fine them $40,000 (calculated by the adv cost to care for a litter for their life time), then use that $ for sterilization and careing for animals, not for uthanization, make them do comminty service so many hours at their local animal shelter, and make them promote and adverstise sterilization and adoption.

    dont punish them for haveing pregnante dogs or puppies other wise they will kill the puppies or the mother dog to avoid punishment. require they care for all dogs they own otherwise arrest them and charge them with neglect, and fine them.

    why not just fix them and let them free in the country? strays i know seemly do fine, except they might get flees and worms.

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    vacinated for rabies isnt that important the cahnces of them getting rabais is very low plus they have failed to show proof that the vaccine works, first you take the vaccine and then try to give your self rabis. micrchips are unnesciary for stray animals, thatas too expensive and they can cause healthy problems even death.

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