When Bob Barker was the host of “The Price is Right” he would end each episode with a message that encouraged people to have cats and dogs spayed or neutered. There have been many cracks that Barker personally spayed/neutered thousands of animals which I’ll admit to finding a little humorous. Anyway, Barker was in Chicago Tuesday to lobby aldermen on a plan to require that the city’s dogs and cats be sterilized. He was was met with some unexpected opposition. The plan requires that all cats and dogs be spayed/neutered by the age of six months and alderman questioned the feasibility of that. Barker believes legislation is the only way to solve the problem of thousands upon thousands of homeless cats and dogs. He also points money-saving benefits of the plan which he says would save Chicago millions of dollars that would no longer be needed for shelters to euthanize animals that have not been adopted.
The ordinance is sponsored by Ald. Ed Burke (14th), chairman of the Finance Committee, and Ald. Ginger Rugai (19th). They pointed to dog attacks on Chicago residents and sterilized dogs as being less vicious as good support for the ordinance. Were the ordinance to be passed, those in violation of it would be given a ticket telling the person to have the pet fixed. If the person ignored the ticket, a $100 fine would be issued after 60 days. If another 60 days passed with no response, a second fine would be issues, one that could be up to $500. In addition, the city could impound and sterilize the animal. A person could only reclaim the pet after paying the fines and other related costs. Some pets would exempt: those with medical problems that make sterilization unsafe, show dogs, guard and service dogs, as well as animals belonging to federally licensed breeders, and a person could apply for a city’s breeder license (which requires a criminal background check) to become exempt.
The effort is backed by PAWS Chicago and the Humane Society of the United States. However, the Chicago and Illinois State Veterinary Medical Association oppose the effort believing that the decision to sterilize should be left to the veterinarian and the pet’s guardian. One alderman, Isaac Carothers (29th) doesn’t think the ordinance would have much effect in Chicago because he doesn’t think that people would obey the law.
I’m torn on the issue. It’s terrible that a staggering number of cats and dogs are enthanized each year because homes cannot be found for them. However, I don’t know that I feel comfortable with a law telling people how to care for their animal. Perhaps, instead, there should be a law banning irresponsible people from becoming pet guardians.