Las Vegas enacts mandatory spay/neuter law

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Nov 23, 2009
By dvm360.com staff
Las Vegas -- Las Vegas residents will have to make sure they aren’t keeping intact pets without a special permit starting this spring or they will have to pay hefty fines.

Las Vegas City Council approved an ordinance to mandate spay and neutering of all cats and dogs by the age of four months after hours of deliberation Nov. 18. Some questions arose over whether four months was too young an age to require sterilization and whether mandatory sterilization programs are really effective in reducing unwanted pet populations. Still, the measure passed 5-2 and will take effect April 1.

Exceptions are included in the ordinance that exempt animals medically unfit to undergo the operation or specially trained service animals. Breeders who have specific permits also will be exempt from the law, but violators will face misdemeanor charges and a $225 first-time offense fine. Fines for the second and third offenses are $500 and $1,000, respectively. Owners who can show proof of sterilization within thirty days of an offense can get their fines reduced by 80 percent, according to the legislation.

A portion of the fines collected through enforcement of the new law will be used to set up a fund to provide public assistance for pet owners who can’t afford to pay for spay/neuter procedures.

North Las Vegas passed a similar law in January 2008 and Clark County, Nev., also is considering a mandatory spay/neuter law. A statewide mandatory spay/neuter law has failed more than once in California, and cities like New Orleans and Chicago have considered, but never passed, similar laws.

Letters will sent to new pet owners about the law’s requirements, and pet stores must turn over new pet owner information to authorities each quarter to help achieve full compliance.