Las Vegas spay/neuter ordinance: Two steps forward, one step backward

i April 5, 2010

A few months ago the Nevada city of Las Vegas enacted a “mandatory” spay/neuter law. It requires that dogs and cats over the age of four months, “harbored” in the city, be sterilized (as well as being microchipped before adoption or release from impound). In principle, the city’s motive (reducing overpopulation and killing) is commendable and ISAR supports it. The ordinance is an explicit acknowledgement of the overpopulation problem, and an attempt to deal with it in a humane and practical way. Indeed, the Las Vegas ordinance reflects some of the provisions originally propounded by ISAR in its Monograph entitled “The Policy, Law and Morality of Mandatory Spay/Neuter” and our “Model Statute Regarding Dog Breeding, Facilitation and Sales,” each of which are available on ISAR’s website HERE).

However, the Las Vegas ordinance contains the same Achilles Heel found in virtually every other so-called “mandatory” spay/neuter law: a categorical exemption for those “holding a valid dog fancier’s permit, cat fancier’s permit, breeder’s permit, or professional animal handler’s permit . . . .” As ISAR explains at length in our Monograph and our Model Statute, exemptions in so-called “mandatory” spay/neuter laws, especially for breeders, gut those enactments and do little to reduce the overpopulation problem.

As our Monograph and Model Statute prove, a (if not the) major culprit in the overpopulation problem is the breeder, especially the commercial manufacturers of puppies and kittens who operate “farms” at which these unfortunate animals are produced like sausages on an assembly line.

Obviously, as usual with “mandatory” spay/neuter laws, the Las Vegas ordinance was the product of compromise–unfortunately a typical ingredient of the legislative process. Until compromise at the expense of animals is wrung out of the system at the insistence of voters, we will continue to get laws which are “mandatory” except when they are not.

The animal rights movement, let alone the animals we seek to protect, can no longer take a step backward, even if at the same time we take two steps forward.