Model Adoption Sterilization Statute

Every second, every minute, every hour, every day, year after year, unwanted kittens, puppies, dogs, and cats die because humans neglect and refuse to spay or neuter these companion animals. Sadly, the pet overpopulation crisis knows no borders. It is a horrific problem with devastating consequences that are felt in every corner of the world.

International Society for Animal Rights (ISAR) fights tirelessly against the human ignorance and breeding at the heart of the companion animal overpopulation scourge, an immoral phenomenon that is the principal reason millions of unwanted companion animals die globally each year.

About thirty jurisdictions in the United States require sterilization, or a promise to sterilize, in order to adopt an animal from a pound, animal shelter, or pet animal rescue organization. Even though some of these states require a monetary deposit to ensure future sterilization, neither the amount nor the promise are sufficient to guarantee that the adopted animals will be spayed or neutered. Also, the majority of the states provide for certain exceptions, and there are exemptions on the federal level.[1]

Indeed, according to a survey by PetSmart Charities, approximately one in three pet owners do not have their pets spayed or neutered in a timely fashion following adoption. Of those surveyed, thirteen-percent of dog owners and nineteen-percent of cat owners had allowed their pet to have a litter, usually negligently.

The survey revealed also that substantial confusion exists among pet owners regarding the appropriate age for spay/neuter. When animal adoption organizations require neutering but fail to perform the surgery prior to placement, they inevitably contribute to the litters born in their community. Even if a shelter has an enviable ninety-percent compliance rate for post-adoption spay/neuter, if one of their adopted dogs has a litter of ten puppies, the overpopulation problem is right back where it started. For these reasons, the law and thus the shelters must mandate spay/neuter adoption for all cats and dogs, including those often-overlooked kittens and puppies.[2]

Model Statute

WHEREAS, there have been, and there are, within this jurisdiction a substantial number of unwanted cats and dogs lacking permanent homes, many of whom are healthy ani­mals; and

WHEREAS, these cats and dogs through no fault of their own have an adverse impact on the public health, safe­ty, welfare, and environment; and

WHEREAS, the impact of these animals includes but is not limited to the transmission of disease, the injury of humans and other animals, the creation of hazards to vehic­ular traffic, and the drain of public finances; and

WHEREAS, many of these cats and dogs are euthanized by shelters, humane societies, and other similar organiza­tions; and

WHEREAS, euthanizing cats and dogs, except for bona fide medical reasons, is inhumane and abhorrent to the res­idents of this jurisdiction; and

WHEREAS, euthanizing cats and dogs, except for bona fide medical reasons, is not an effective, economical, humane, or ethical, solution to the problem of unwanted cats and dogs; and

WHEREAS, as an alternative to euthanasia of unwanted cats and dogs, shelters, pounds, humane societies and similar organizations foster and are able to secure the adoption of otherwise unwanted cats and dogs; and

WHEREAS, such adoptions promote the public health, welfare, safety and environment and substantially reduce the overpopulation problem; and

WHEREAS, an important aspect of such promotion and reduction is that adopted dogs and cats, and lost animals returned to their owners, be prevented from reproducing,

NOW, THEREFORE, be it enacted as follows:

Section 1. Short title.

This act shall be known, and may be cited, as the Mandatory Adoption Sterilization Act.

Section 2.  Mandatory sterilization.

No shelter, pound, humane society, rescue organization, or similar organization, whether public or private, whose principal purpose is securing the adoption of dogs and cats, shall release any such animal to its owner, custodian or an adopter unless the dog or cat has first been sterilized by spaying or neutering.

Section 3.  Medical exceptions to sterilization

(a)  No dog or cat need be sterilized if a licensed veterinarian, exercising appropriate professional judgment, shall certify in writing and under oath that an animal is medically unfit for the spay/neuter procedure because of a physical condition which would be substantially aggravated by such procedure or would likely cause the animal’s death.

(b)  The dog or cat’s age shall not per se constitute medical unfitness.

(c)  As soon as the disqualifying medical condition ceases to exist, it shall be the duty of the person or entity having control of the dog or cat to immediately comply with all provisions of this act.

(d)  Possession of the certificate referred to in subsection (a) of this section shall constitute a defense to liability under the penalty provisions of this act.

Section 4.  Penalties.

Each unauthorized failure-to-sterilize violation of this act by a shelter, pound, humane society, rescue organization, or similar organization shall be punishable by a fine of $200.00.

If during the disqualification period provided by Section 3 the dog or cat breeds, the individual or entity in control of the animal shall be punished as follows:

The first violation shall constitute an offense, punishable by a fine of $500.00.

The next two violations will constitute separate offenses for which an additional civil fine of $1,000.00 shall be imposed for each violation.

Immediately following the third offense, subsequent violations will be punishable as the lowest grade misdemeanor.  A $5,000.00 fine will also be imposed for each offense after the third.

Section 4.  Effective date.

This act shall be effective when it is approved according to law.

[[1]] https://www.avma.org/Advocacy/StateAndLocal/Pages/sr-spay-neuter-laws.aspx; https://www.animallaw.info/intro/state-spay-and-neuter-laws; https://www.animallaw.info/article/detailed-discussion-state-spay-and-neuter-laws; http://www.acc-d.org/docs/default-source/5th-symposium/press_handouts.pdf?sfvrsn=4

[[2]] http://isaronline.org/programs/dog-and-cat-overpopulation/dog-and-cat-overpopulation-and-juvenile-spayneuter/; http://www.warmfuzzys.org/factsheets/15-Early-Age%20Spay%20Neuter%20Before%20Adoption.pdf