Our nation is in a pet overpopulation crisis. Three to four million cats and dogs nationwide are euthanized each year at our animal shelters. This sobering number should act as a wake-up call for all of us to take action to decrease this horrifying statistic. API took this to heart and joined a coalition effort in our own backyard to end the pet overpopulation problem in the Sacramento region.
In early 2005, API helped form the Coalition to Stop Animal Overpopulation. The coalition includes the Sacramento County Department of Animal Care and Regulation, the City of Sacramento Animal Care Services, the Sacramento SPCA, representatives of several local, state, and national animal protection organizations, and independent animal rescuers.
More than 20,000 dogs and cats are killed every year at Sacramento area animal shelters. Animal protection advocates and animal control representatives have worked hard in recent years to promote spay and neuter and the adoption of shelter animals, but the numbers are still too high. Approximately one out of every two animals who enters the Sacramento shelters is killed. There simply aren’t enough good homes for them.
Irresponsible breeders who allow their dogs and cats to reproduce out of control are the primary source of the problem. These so-called “backyard breeders” use animals to generate income without regard for the health of the animal used for breeding, hereditary disease incurred by the offspring, or saturation of particular breeds in our shelters.
In response to the local pet overpopulation crisis, the Coalition drafted a proposed ordinance that would charge a much higher licensing fee for unaltered versus altered animals. This ordinance would require that an owner prominently display the license number of any cat of dog being sold or transferred through an advertisement. It also would prohibit giving away animals for free. These requirements would provide an increased opportunity for enforcement agencies to ensure that the provisions of the ordinance are being followed and should result in an increased number of animals being licensed and sterilized.
The ordinance also proposes that 50 percent of all penalty fees collected pursuant to the ordinance and 50 percent of all unlicensed fees collected by animal control be deposited into a spay and neuter fund for animals of low-income families.
These types of ordinances are nothing new to the state. Numerous ordinances enacted and recently introduced are similar to our model. The City of Los Angeles, the County of Santa Cruz, all of the cities within that county, as well as the city of Clearlake have similar ordinances. And communities in other states have implemented high fees for the breeding of cats and dogs with measurable success in reducing the number of animals entering shelters and, as a result, overall death rates.
The Sacramento Board of Supervisors held two public meetings in February and August 2006 to discuss this ordinance and the pet overpopulation problem in Sacramento County. Many dog breeders appeared at the meeting to voice their opposition, and consequently the Board of Supervisors decided to require our Coalition and others supporting the ordinance to have a facilitated meeting with the animal breeders, rather than vote on the ordinance. A final vote on the ordinance is expected February 2007.
The Coalition is also working on introducing the model ordinance in the city of Sacramento. If you would like a copy of the model ordinance please email firstname.lastname@example.org or contact us at 1-800-348-7387.
Along with other Coalition members, API’s Director of Legal and Government Affairs, Nicole Paquette, received the SPCA Humanitarian award for her efforts in pushing for the pet overpopulation ordinance.
You can help. Your tax-deductible donation to API helps support important programs like the Coalition to Stop Animal Overpopulation’s proposed ordinance. You can donate online, or by calling API at 1-800-348-7387.