Two Golden Retriever puppies
Texas has the highest number of animals put down in municipal pounds, a staggering 125,000 yearly according to PetPedia. Several factors have led to this situation, including the state's population size, many Texans having jobs that require frequent moves, such as oilfield workers, high rent prices in many cities that make finding pet-friendly options difficult, and high spay and neuter costs that help contribute to the homeless animal population.
A recent petition on MoveOn.org addressed to the Texas Agriculture Board aims to bring about a mandatory spay and neuter law for dogs and cats. More Texas residents, as well as interested rescuers outside the state, who are aware of the situation, may be able to help make a difference.
Texas Rescues Are Maxed Out
Every municipal pound, also known as an animal control facility, has a certain maximum capacity level set by city or county authorities. At the same time, these facilities are obligated to accept every dog or cat. Unlike the non-profit shelters that can close to intake when nearing capacity, municipal pounds are legally permitted to have animals put to sleep if they've passed their stray hold and have not been claimed by the owners or adopted.
No-kill rescues inside and outside the state have taken up the task of pulling as many of these animals from animal control facilities as possible. However, these rescue efforts require fosters willing to hold the animals temporarily until placement, as well as transporters. These efforts require a lot of volunteers, time, and money to make everything work effectively.
What Mandatory Spay or Neuter Could Do
Many cite requiring all pet dogs and cats to be spayed or neutered as a possible solution. Members of the rescue community frequently see pounds filling up with puppies or kittens from unintended litters. In some parts of the state with severely underserved animal control facilities, large numbers of strays roam freely, producing multiple litters of offspring.
Rescue advocates who support mandatory spaying or neutering hope that preventing further litters will reduce the number of animals destroyed in shelters every year. Another advantage that rescue advocates see with required spaying or neutering is rescues having more resources available because they need to care for fewer animals.
Overcoming Possible Objections
However, such an effort will not be without opposition. Breeders are likely to oppose such laws unless carefully-worded exemptions are available for professional breeders. Another concern would also involve the need for exemptions for pets with health issues that make surgery unsafe.
Required spays and neuters would require more veterinarians making their services affordable. Vouchers offered by non-profit organizations promoting spaying and neutering can help increase affordability. One concern often cited by advocates is transportation, with affordable mobile spay and neuter clinics being a possible solution.
How Would Such a Law Pass in Texas?
Many would consider a statewide law to be the best option, despite previous attempts at statewide laws having failed. The state legislative process is somewhat long, with the Legislature only meeting every two years. In any case, city or county-wide ordinances could be easier goals to achieve.
Anyone interested in getting a spay and neuter ordinance passed in their community is often advised to work with local groups advocating for pound animals. These groups made up of rescue advocates and other concerned citizens can help make a stronger case for city council members and county commissioners to take action.