In last Sunday's column, I expressed surprise over the large number of online voters at the Gazette-Mail Pets Web site who were opposed to a mandatory spay/neuter law. I thought the need for such a law seemed to be a no-brainer.
Seems the no-brainer was me. Although the need for spaying and neutering wasn't disputed, the wisdom behind imposing a law requiring the procedure was heavily questioned.
Wrote T.F. Workman, "The opposition isn't to a spay/neuter program. The opposition is to another law. Americans are slowly legislating away our civil liberties. We need to stop trying to legislate common sense or good habits. I think almost everyone would agree pets should be neutered or spayed, but we don't want to be forced to do so by law. Some of us are just plain scared by the trend to pass legislation for everything."
In the forums of the Gazette-Mail Pets Web site, Firewolf4 wrote, "By making spaying and neutering mandatory, you're infringing on the rights of pet owners. Since pets are considered property, you're in direct violation with the Constitution.
"The only ones who will be impacted will be the responsible pet owners who take pet ownership to heart - not because it's mandated, but because they see themselves as the guardians of their animals. Backyard breeders and puppy millers don't care what laws are on the books. They'll break them anyway."
Firewolf4 also asked, "Who's going to pay the medical bills when the municipality is sued for wrongful death of a pet [due to] complications [for a procedure that] was mandated? You guessed it - the taxpaying public."
Wrote Vicki Aucremanne, "When something like this is made mandatory, many folks will simply give up their pets because the surgery is so expensive. If it's too expensive now, what changes with a mandatory law? We have to work with people, through education and other venues, to help animals find new homes."
Aucremanne included a link in her e-mail to an article called "The dark side of mandatory licensing and neuter laws," put out by nokilladvocacycenter.org, that warns against mandatory-type laws requiring pet sterilization because they're often written in such a way that those who don't comply can have their animal seized, impounded and euthanized, while the fines for lesser offenses can be so substantial that large numbers of animals end up being dumped at shelters or abandoned, and people refuse to care for homeless strays.
The article cited research that shows that the main reason pet owners fail to alter their pets is the cost and the lack of access to spay/neuter services. "The higher the cost, the lower the rate of compliance."