Mandatory Spay/Neuter, Not in My Backyard!

durgin.dart.dsc1120.400by Doranna

Spay and neuter laws lead to another one of those conversations that can get us into trouble.  We care about our animals and we care about the suffering of animals who aren’t ours.  We feel passionately about the subject matter as a whole.  The temperature of such discussions can rise pretty quickly.

But it pays to do the research.  It’s important to know actual facts, and not just have feelings about the matter.  It’s doubly important to look at it from all sides.

I’ve done that over the years, and I no longer neuter my dogs without a specific driving reason for the individual dog.  (I might well sterilize* them if appropriate, but those are different procedures with completely different consequences or lack thereof.)  Ovaries and testicles are part of a functional canine body, and removing them increases the risk for far too many issues.  Especially with an early neuter–been there, done that, not going back–and especially with a dog who’s involved in various canine sports.  For other dogs/situations/families, the decision to neuter is the better one.  It’s always that way–different personal circumstances dictate different decisions.

*Vasectomy or ovary sparing spay, for instance

But there are a lot of people in this world trying to micromanage everyone else, attempting to ensure that their personal circumstances, limitations, or druthers dictate what other people do with their pets.

Programs that offer education and opportunity are one thing.  Laws that remove choice are another.  And one thing some of these micromanaging folks are very good at is insinuating fast-track legislation that seems benign, but contains broadly imprecise language to set the stage for what they really want to do, AKA removing choice.

Really, there’s so much to say on this topic that it could be spread out over numerous blogs.  The reason I’m writing one now (when I quite frankly ought to be in bed for the night) is that New Mexico House Bill 415 is on its way to the Senate.  No warning, no time to discuss, and with the legislative session about to end.

Those of us who care need to act fast.  And it doesn’t need to be your state to care, because this sort of legislation is being lobbied around the country, and test-case states will be used to build momentum for everywhere else.

The AKC has this to say about it:

House Bill 415 passed by the New Mexico House of Representatives earlier this week contains language that could allow local mandatory spay/neuter policies to be enacted in the state.

As introduced, HB 415 would have established a statewide spay and neuter account and allowed for an optional tax refund for those who contribute to the program.

The bill also contains a provision, however, that would require the state animal shelter board to develop and implement a statewide dog and cat spay and neuter program. The AKC and other animal welfare groups are concerned that the broad and vague wording of this amendment could allow for mandatory spay/neuter programs, intact animal permits, or other similar measures to be implemented statewide.

AKC urges lawmakers to remove this provision or not allow the bill to advance. Removing the provision would allow the state to implement a statewide spay/neuter account without potentially infringing on the rights of responsible dog owners to have the choice of when and whether to spay/neuter their dogs.

The New Mexico legislative session is scheduled to end on March 21, so this bill will likely move through the Senate very quickly. Those who reside or participate in dog events in New Mexico are strongly encouraged to contact the following legislators immediately and ask them to either amend House Bill 415 to remove this provision or to oppose the bill as currently written in its entirety.

The article goes on to list contact info, which I’ll put at the end of this blog.

So I wrote a letter, and I’m in the process of sending it to those on the list.  It could probably be better, but thanks to the sly nature of this bill, there’s not any time to fuss with it. It goes like this:

I’m writing to you out of concern for House Bill 415.  This bill contains a provision with broad, imprecise language that could allow for local mandatory spay/neuter programs and other infringements on those who are already responsibly managing their pets–infringements that will have a devastating effect on the nature of our pet population overall, not to mention economic repercussions.

The poorly worded provision requires the state animal shelter board to develop and implement a statewide spay and neuter program.  I urge you to support removal or clean-up of this provision before allowing the bill to proceed.

There should be no leeway in any legislation for the development of mandatory spay/neuter.  It’s a losing proposition on all fronts–one that panders to a particular lobby with the ultimate goal of eliminating pet ownership while simultaneously punishing responsible pet owners and unconstitutionally removing their ability to make the best decisions for their individual animals.

Meanwhile, irresponsible owners will pay no more attention than they do to the laws already on the books, while increasing restrictions means that fewer healthy, temperamentally sound animals will be available from quality breeders.  Even now, other countries (largely in East Asia, Eastern Europe, and South America) are filling the holes left by these restrictive laws—but they’re not doing it with healthy pets.

At the same time, no area with mandatory spay/neuter has seen overall positive results.  Compliance falls along with revenues; enforcement costs rise.  And there are hidden, tangible costs to consider.  For instance, local venues currently vie for the contracts to host canine events, from conformation shows to agility trials.  These trials bring in hotel, restaurant, and tourist dollars.  But competitors are wary of traveling to a state with mandatory spay and neuter laws, and entries are already diminished by existing restrictions.  Meanwhile, there are a plethora of job-creating industries built around the care, feeding, and entertainment of our pets, while the dogs who take on service animal roles must have absolutely robust temperaments and health.  These industries, too, will be damaged by mandatory spay/neuter.

Mandatory spay and neuter also doesn’t take into effect the long-term detrimental effects on the health of our individual animals.  Numerous studies have revealed that spay /neuter—especially early spay and neuter—increases our pets’ risks for cancer, aggression and fear, thyroid, incontinence, and physical injury.  Responsible owners should have the right, per the Due Process Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment, to make choices regarding their pets’ health and management.

Finally, mandatory spay and neuter must be the most short-sighted legislation on the planet.  Enacted, it devastates healthy, robust bloodlines, leaving only poorly bred and temperamentally unsound animals.  Suppose you consider the average lifespan of a dog to be twelve years (although of course it varies with breed).  Twelve years from now, where will our pets come from?  The countries that are already sending us inferior, sickened animals?

According to LA County Health, puppies imported into the US have recently tripled in number.  These dogs have introduced and spread parvo, distemper, rabies, atypical worm infestations, and other diseases–including rabies.  These unregulated puppy mill pets are not a desirable outcome from legislation in anyone’s book.

Animal Rights groups—PETA, HSUS, etc—have a long history of playing on our love for animals to introduce problematic legislation, and they’re successful simply because we do care so very much for our pets.  Many times, the goal of pet lovers and these groups do in fact align, and they’re very, very good at what they do when they introduce legislation that doesn’t in fact support the nurture of a thriving, healthy pet population in the US—after all, their end goal, as openly stated, is to end pet ownership in our country.  But there’s a reason that PETA is currently in the news for stealing and killing peoples’ pets in Virginia, and that HSUS is no longer considered a charitable organization.

Mandatory spay/neuter is not only unnecessary (there are already existing laws that if enforced, would deal with stray overpopulations), it’s problematic in every way.  While the overall goal of House Bill 415 might well have merit, as long as it includes the problematic provision it remains a highly flawed piece of legislation that doesn’t belong in our state.  Support of this bill as is can only come from those who seek to undermine the healthy, loving pet population that responsible breeders have worked hard to maintain.

As an active New Mexico voter, I urge you to strip this bill of the broad, imprecise language that leaves us open to the entirely undesirable development of mandatory spay neuter laws.


Supporting documentation:

This seems like a good spot to put a picture of a certain puppy.  You know, the one I wouldn’t have under a mandatory spay/neuter regime.


Contact info from the AKC article:

About Doranna

My books are SF/F, mystery, paranormal romance, and romantic suspense. My dogs are Beagles, my home is the Southwest, and the horse wants a cookie!
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4 Responses to Mandatory Spay/Neuter, Not in My Backyard!

  1. Marilyn says:

    Well said.

    • Doranna says:

      I hope all those senators think so. Or even bother to read it (or to have staff read and summarize, or whatever…)

  2. Leo says:

    I usually pick up the phone first – leave short and clear messages with staffers (I live is Rep X’s district, I vote every election, and I am strenuously opposed to bill HR XXX or SR yyy) along with my contact info. THEN I follow-up with e-mail with detail and my contact info. I have found that overall my reps (same as yours LOL) are reasonably responsive but NOT able to cope with a lot of information or nuance. YMMV.

    • Doranna says:

      I think you’re right, and that few read beyond my subject header (which was really clear). In the end I wrote the letter so it would be here, and so I would have sorted out those thoughts in my head.

      I hate the phone and cold calls make me shake (literally, which is sad but there it is), so I went the email route. Sigh.

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