Over the past few years, since the introduction of California’s failed AB 1634, the AKC Government Relations department has seen an increase in mandatory spay/neuter (MSN) proposals at the state and local levels. In 2008, a measure was introduced in Arizona, and in 2009, similar laws were proposed in Florida, Alabama, and Texas. None of the measures gained traction, but the message is clear: there are people who want to make it very hard and very expensive to own an intact dog and to engage in responsible breeding.
On the local level, the victories in some municipalities have been tempered with losses in other communities. In fact, a recent report by the Spay/Neuter Advisory Committee in the City of Los Angeles has even questioned the exemption provided to dogs registered with approved registries, including the AKC. Although no legislative action is currently pending on this report, it is important to recognize that there are people out there who do not support the right of responsible citizens to own and breed dogs.
Hobby breeders and fanciers are often tempted to ignore ordinances or laws that specifically exempt those involved with competition activities, but often these provisions come with significant strings attached. In some cases, breeders or fanciers are required to have their home inspected by animal control officers who do not have significant training in animal husbandry and are not familiar with the needs of specific breeds. Other ordinances require that a dog be shown every year, which may pose a problem if an illness, blown coat or even a temporary financial issue prohibits participation in the sport for a period of time.
It is important that all legislation be examined carefully to see how it could be misused or abused to the detriment of responsible dog owners. In addition, it is vital that all animal control ordinances contain provisions allowing dog owners to exercise due process and have violations thoroughly investigated before permanent action such as surrender, euthanasia or sterilization is mandated. The AKC Government Relations department is here to help responsible dog owners, breeders, and fanciers read between the lines of these often-confusing proposals and is happy to assist you in working to protect your rights.
-Sarah Sprouse, Government Relations Manager
View our printable one-page handout with talking points regarding MSN legislation to distribute to clubs, fanciers, and public officials.