The Union Recorder

August 7, 2012

Georgia spay/neutering law has a large flaw in it

Bobbie Thompson
The Union-Recorder

MILLEDGEVILLE — Sept. 20th will be ARF’s 29th anniversary. Over these many years, ARF has found homes for thousands of cats and dogs, helped spay and neuter hundreds of cats and dogs, has assisted in improving the Baldwin County Animal Control Ordinances and has worked with the state humane organization, Humane Association of Georgia for Georgia’s spay-neuter license plate.

It all sounds very positive. But we are still receiving too many litters of puppies and kittens, animals are still being mistreated and too many unaltered cats and dogs are still leaving many Georgia shelters.

ARF is just one of hundreds of humane societies, rescue groups and animal control shelters in Georgia. Georgia shelters are licensed under the Georgia Department of Agriculture’s (GDA) Animal Protection Division. ARF is paying $300 per year for the privilege of being a humane society animal shelter.

There are state laws, and the GDA has its rules and regulations. You would think that because of these laws and rules, these hundreds of animal organizations would be, at the very least, following these laws and rules, and at the most, going above and beyond.

Sadly, the law for spaying and neutering all shelter animals has a huge flaw in it. The law doesn’t require the shelters to spay and neuter before the adoption of any animal. The law says that all shelter puppies and kittens adopted must be spayed and neutered within 30 days of sexual maturity. If an adult cat or dog is adopted, that animal must be spayed or neutered within 30 days of adoption (O.C.G.A. Title 4, Chapter 14 – Sterilization of Dogs and Cats in Shelters).

You would think that if it’s the law, it would be enforced. However, I don’t know if it is. That means that an unknown number of shelter animals are being adopted that will reproduce.

The purpose of this law was to prevent the huge numbers of litters being dropped off in shelters and along the roads and, in the case of many animal control agencies, euthanized. The law is specifically for the animal shelters in the state.

The primary reason the law is stated that way is some veterinarians still did not do early spay and neuter of animals. They want to wait until an animal is sexually mature. Sadly, this causes a huge problem: It means that these adopted animals have to ability to reproduce. The solution to that problem should have been to find another veterinarian and to make it that all animals from shelters be spayed and neutered prior to adoption.

Before the law was passed,  I used to have to argue with people about the need to spay or neuter the pet they were adopting. ARF’s animals were spayed and neutered before they went to their new homes. After the law passed, I didn’t have to argue. It was the law.

Because the law gives the owner responsibility for having the surgery done (if the shelter doesn’t do it ahead of time), there are countless animals out there that are not fixed. Whose job is it to insure the animal is fixed?

According to the law, “It shall be a misdemeanor to fail or refuse to comply with the requirements of Code Section 4-14-3 and any person convicted of said misdemeanor shall be subject to a fine not to exceed $200.” I guess that could mean either the pet owner or the shelter.

There shouldn’t be a need to fix this problem with this law. If we truly care for the animals, every shelter should be eager to comply.