California City To Vote on Mandatory Spay-Neuter

The proposed legislation would require Huntington Beach, Calif., dog and cat owners to alter and microchip their pets.

The Huntington Beach, Calif., City Council is scheduled to vote Monday, Nov. 5, on whether to adopt an ordinance that would require pet owners to spay, neuter and microchip their dogs and cats.

If it passes, the ordinance would be the first in the state to require altering and microchipping for both dogs and cats. Exemptions would apply if certain criteria were met.

The purpose of the ordinance is to reduce uncontrolled breeding, to more humanely manage the city’s pet population, and reduce the strain on Orange County Animal Care Services’ resources, according to a staff report prepared by Huntington Beach Police Chief Kenneth W. Small and presented to the council in September.

After hearing the report and community input, the council voted 4-3 in favor of drafting the ordinance.

Dog owners may apply for an exemption if a veterinarian deems the surgery unsafe, the animal is used for law enforcement purposes, the animal is a service animal or the pet is deemed a competition animal.

As a result of public comments and concerns, two changes were made to the proposed ordinance since it was presented to the council in September. Pet owners who don’t qualify for an exemption but wish to keep their pets intact could do so if they paid an “unaltered animal fee.” If this provision passes, the fee would be established at a future council meeting. The second change reduces the age required for mandatory altering from six month to four months.

Opponents of the ordinance say this legislation creates a “nanny government” and infringes on individuals’ rights. Those in favor of the ordinance say this legislation would reduce the number of animals euthanized.

A high turnout is expected at the council meeting from those speaking both for and against the legislation.

If the council votes in favor of the ordinance, it must go through a second reading and a second vote before it can be adopted. Typically, ordinances receive a second reading at the next regularly scheduled council meeting, which would be Nov. 19. If adopted, the ordinance would go into effect in 30 days, but would not be enforced until Dec. 1, 2008 due to a one-year grace period.

-Heidi Hatch, Associate News Editor for

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