(Even O.C. grand jury acknowledges most of problem is stays, not family pets)
Game-show icon Bob Barker used to end each episode of “The Price Is Right” with his signature statement, “Help control the pet population; have your pet spayed and neutered.” Well, Mr. Barker might get his if the Orange County Board of Supervisors and cities in Orange County follow the advice of the recent county grand jury report, which recommended the mandatory spaying and neutering of cats and dogs in the county.
It is one thing for a private citizen to advocate this action. To have the government order citizens to do this is certainly quite another. According to grand jury report, the main reason behind this suggested mandate stems from the fact that O.C. Animal Care is inundated year after year with unwanted pets, and has no other choice but to euthanize them because the shelter simply does not have either the physical or and financial means to car for them.
The grand jury reports that in fiscal year 2006-07, O.C. Animal Care took in more than 29,000 stray pets and euthanized more than 13,000 at a cost of approximately $322.478 and with the population of Orange County continuing to rise, the number of pets ultimately to be euthanized would likely rise. It’s troubling to rad the number of pets euthanized in a given year. To some, adopting a mandatory neutering law might seem like a rational idea to counter this disheartening reality. But before jumping on the Nanny State bandwagon, it is important to look at the associated costs of such a mandate.
To begin with this proposal would make it fore difficult for families to responsibly breed household pets. Individuals wanting to do so would have to make their way through red tape to obtain a license for keeping unaltered pets and in the process, pay a fee. In Los Angeles County, a county with a mandatory neutering law (which O.C. grand jury seeks to emulate), fines for first-time offenses can reach $250, and a second offense can be as steep as $1,000, with a possible stint in jail.
But perhaps the most questionable aspect of the grand jury report steams from its ambiguous statements on page 8, where the grand jury admits that “[m]most pet owners are loving, attentive guardians of their pets… and are conscious of their pet’s breeding habits.” On the same page, report alleges “the overpopulation problem is caused primarily by stray, abandoned and unattended animals.” So, if the problem is caused “primarily by stray, abandoned and unattended animals” what good would a mandatory law imposed on the vast majority of pet owners who are “loving [and] attentive guardians of their pets,” exactly do? How would it really alter the number of pets taken in by O.C. Animal Care? If the problem mainly lies in stray pets reproducing, why punish families and their pets?
Instead of eroding freedom, private citizens and organizations need to convince pet owners that spaying and neutering their pets is the right course of action.