Long Beach to require dog owners to spay or neuter their pets, legislation alone will not help

Approximately 1.2 million dogs are euthanized each year in U.S. animal shelters, according to the American Veterinary Medical Association. Long Beach has long experienced overcrowding in shelters, as well as an abundance of stray animals. In response, the Long Beach City Council voted March in favor of a mandatory spay-and-neuter ordinance.

This is a great move toward a solution, but it will be up to the people to follow through and comply with the ordinance.

Right now, it is mandatory for dog owners to license their pets, yet only 40,000 licenses exist out of the approximately 102,000 dogs living in Long Beach, according to the Press-Telegram.

Residents will really have to step it up if this new ordinance is to be effective.

The human desire to breed dogs has given way to overpopulation and overcrowded shelters.

With the volume of animals shelters take in, they struggle to keep the animals healthy, and half of the dogs admitted to shelters will be euthanized because there simply aren’t enough good homes for them, according to the city of Long Beach. To compensate for overpopulation, taxpayers are spending millions of dollars on animal control, shelters and other services.

Additionally, the supposed market “need” for breeding fuels puppy mills that promote dog abuse. The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals defines puppy mills as “large-scale commercial dog breeding operations where profit is given priority over the well-being of the dogs.” Most puppies sold in pet stores are actually from puppy mills, where overcrowded and unsanitary conditions, including inadequate veterinary care, food, water and socialization, are pervasive.

The new ordinance requires Long Beach residents to spay or neuter their dogs at 6 months of age effective at the beginning of October. The only exemptions will be for medical reasons, show dogs, service animals and for owners of dogs licensed prior to the effective date. The ordinance also makes it illegal to sell dogs, cats or rabbits in a commercial establishment unless they are from a shelter, nonprofit or possess a breeding permit.

Pet owners argue it is an invasion of privacy to expect citizens of Long Beach to alter their pets. Shouldn’t it be a choice? But Long Beach is past making choices. There is a population of homeless dogs begging us to put them before our own desire to breed more puppies.

The reality is that this ordinance is only effective in Long Beach, not its neighboring cities or the rest of the U.S. People are bound to take liberties with this and continue to purchase dogs from commercial establishments that support puppy mills. People will continue to fly under the radar, disobey the law that says they must register their pet and keep illegal unaltered pets for breeding.

But every pet adopted is one that is saved. Every spayed or neutered pet is one that positively impacts overcrowded shelters.

Control the overpopulation by spaying or neutering your pet and adopting from local shelters.

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