Vegas may require spay, neuter of pets |

Vegas may require spay, neuter of pets

LAS VEGAS (AP) – Las Vegas is considering requiring pet owners to spay or neuter their cats and dogs.

The proposal is in response to a growing number of feral animals. The Las Vegas Review-Journal reported that some estimates say there are 500,000 feral cats in Clark County.

Of the 30,921 animals put down in local shelters in 2008, nearly two-thirds, or 19,749, were cats.

As proposed, the ordinance would require dogs and cats over 4 months old to be spayed or neutered, with certain exceptions. A veterinarian could certify that a pet was incapable of breeding or medically unfit for the operation.

Pets impounded at the Lied Animal Shelter in Las Vegas would have to be spayed or neutered before being returned to their owners. The animals also would have to have a microchip implanted for identification.

The requirement wouldn’t apply to service animals, law enforcement and rescue animals, or those belonging to someone holding a dog or cat fancier’s permit, a breeder’s permit or a professional animal handler permit.

For enforcement purposes, the ordinance would require pet shops to submit lists of dogs and cats sold each quarter.

Violating the ordinance would be a misdemeanor punishable by fines of $225 for a first offense, $500 for a second offense and $1,000 for the third and subsequent violations.

The proposal is expected to be before the city council soon. A council subcommittee that reviews proposed ordinances decided to send it to the council without a recommendation after a lengthy and contentious hearing.

The main complaint from opponents is that the ordinance would require sterilization at too young an age.

“I am not against spay and neuter. It is a necessary evil,” said Mike Connell of the Silver State Kennel Association. But doing it at 4 months of age is “a mutilation of a tender young body.”

“It shortens their life span and causes long-term medical problems,” he said. “They need that growth time.”

Harold Vasko, president of the Heaven Can Wait Animal Society, said the only way to bring populations under control is to spay or neuter pets before they reproduce.

“Ten percent of the people are probably causing 70 percent of the problem,” Vasko said.