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LIL' BUDDY'S BLOG: City of Chicago Considers Mandatory Spay-Neuter Law!


 Buddy at Computer - Confering with a Source!Well, it's Blog Posting Time in my Lil' Office!  Glad I've kept my Anti-Virus Software up to date!

Often times, new laws are written close on the heels of tragedy.  You know, that red light getting installed after a tragic accident on a corner.  Airport security increased, after the 9-11 tragedy.  Masonry inspection on larger Chicago buildings only after a piece falls off with disastrous consequences.

A recent Pit Bull attack on the South Side of Chicago, on a mother picking up her children from a day care center, has prompted renewed interest in legislating mandatory spay or neuter of dogs and cats over the age of six months throughout Chicago

The legislation was proposed by Chicago Aldermen Edward Burke and Ginger Rugai earlier this week.  Support comes from varied sources, including nationally-famous game show host Bob Barker, who, for many years, signed off "The Price is Right" show by encouraging his viewers to spay or neuter their pets.

Members of PAWS Chicago, the no-kill animal shelter on North Clybourn Street, support the measure as well, as does the U.S. Humane Society.  

The goal of the proposed law, according to its aldermanic sponsors, is to reduce Chicago's homeless pet population, and to prevent unprovoked attacks on humans, especially by intact male dogs.  Neutering pets, the aldermen suggested, would reduce their level of aggressiveness.   

According to an eight-year -old study conducted by the Journal of American Veterinary Medical Association, unsterilized dogs are 2.6 times more likely to bite than those who have been neutered.  Another study, the Texas Severe Animal Attack and Bite Surveillance Summary, shows 81% of dogs involved in bite incidents were not spayed or neutered.  The National Canine Research Council estimates the lack of neutering may be one of several key common factors in 90% of fatal dog attacks (see comment below from Laura Gonzo at the council for more detail).

Supporters hope that a new spay-neuter law will reduce the number of unwanted dogs and cats ending up in conventional shelters throughout Chicago.  They estimate 20,000 abandoned or homeless animals are euthanized each year across the city, and enacting the new law might help Chicago become a "no kill" city, where every abandoned or unwanted pet finds a new home in a loving family.

Certain pet breeders, however, oppose the proposed law.  Susan Olsen, Chairman of the International Kennel Club of Chicago, warns, "In other cities where similar laws have been enacted, people won't come to the city to show their dogs.  They will boycott the shows."

"Mandatory spay-neuter is not going to solve the issue of vicious dogs, and dog biting.  Responsible dog ownership already addresses that."

The new law would exempt persons who obtain a special "Breeding Permit."  These breeders would be subject to a background check and home kennel inspection.  Alderman Burke hopes the prospect of a background check would deter criminals and gang members from obtaining licenses to breed aggressive dogs specifically for fighting.    

Other exemptions -

  • Dogs or cats whose veterinarian certifies a valid medical reason for not being sterilized
  • Dogs and cats of breeds approved by and registered with a registry or association recognized by the commission whose programs and practices are consistent with the humane treatment of animals, and kept for legitimate showing or competition
  • Certain Work Dog Breeds 
  • Service dogs of all breeds
  • Military, Law Enforcement or Guard Dogs 

Fines for first offense would range up to $100, increased to $500 if violators fail to comply with the spay-neuter requirement within 30 days.  The offending pet could also be impounded by the city, for mandatory spay or neuter.

Illinois law already requires certain historically-vicious dog breeds be spayed or neutered. Certain felons are barred from owning not only vicious dogs, but also dogs that have not been spayed or neutered.  In 2007, Illinois passed a law requiring dogs picked up running loose, unsupervised, with 3 other dogs, and any dog picked up as a stray for the second time must be spayed or neutered.

The proposed Chicago law does not provide for no or low-cost spay or neutering procedures for low-income pet-owning families.  Other communities who have had success with their own spay-neuter law have also provided special low-cost programs for those who cannot afford the procedure, which usually cost $200 to $250 at private veterinary offices.  In Chicago, the PAWS Shelter offers a neutering program at low cost to low income families.  

These subsidization programs would actually encourage compliance with the program, and up-to-date vet care, rather than avoiding the vet out of fear a mandatory pet sterilization would be performed to comply with the law.

No decision has been made on the possible Chicago Spay-Neuter Law, but it is likely to be brought up again in a future City Council Session.

Hey, you dogs - this stuff is serious business, so listen up!  Even this Lil' White Dog is a Neutering Survivor, and I still like to look at all the girls - and mark my turf.  Woooooof!!!!!

See Laura Allen's post on The Animal Law Coalition Website for more info.



Posted: Thursday, July 31, 2008 9:16 PM by Dean's Team
Filed under:


Dean's Team said:

Folks -

As point of clarification, I received the following email today from Laura Gonzo of the National Canine Research Council -

Dear Dean,

I appreciate your thoughtful approach to the sometimes contentious issue of mandatory spay-neuter.

I do need to clarify that the National Canine Research Council's findings to not state that 90% of fatal attacks come from un-neutered dogs but that 90% of such attacks involve at least one of three critical factors:

Function of the dog (guard dog, inappropriate breeding program, intimidation, etc)

Owner Management (dogs that are under-socialized, continually chained, allowed to interact unsupervised with children, etc)

Reproductive status (un-neutered, females in heat or with puppies and males in the presense of such females, etc.)

Often in severe and fatal attacks, we find that these factors exist in combination. The fact that a dog is not neutered does not necessarily make it more aggressive, but a dog that is not neutered and living on the end of a chain in a junk yard points to potential problems.

Fortunately, severe and fatal attacks are vanishingly rare and our relationship with dogs is well worth the effort.

Thank you for your consideration.

Laura Gonzo

Dir. Communications and Public Relations

National Canine Research Council

# August 1, 2008 7:04 PM
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