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Countywide : Mandatory Spaying, Neutering Proposed

Dog and cat owners in unincorporated areas of the county would be required to spay or neuter their pets under an ordinance proposed by a humanitarian group.

The Orange County Animal Control Advisory Board voted Wednesday to appoint a committee to examine the proposal, which would require owners to have their animals spayed or face an unspecified fine.

It would also require pet stores to collect an unspecified deposit from kitten and puppy buyers, which would not be refunded until the animals are spayed. The county animal shelter already collects such a deposit when animals are purchased there.

Compliance by pet owners would be verified when the animal is licensed or if it is picked up as a lost animal by control officers. Breeders would be exempt from spaying or neutering their animals but would have to obtain a license from the county.

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The proposal is the brainchild of United Humanitarians of Orange County, a group of about 50 residents that officers say is trying to decrease the number of stray dogs and cats destroyed by the county animal shelter. The county destroyed about 7,500 strays last year.

If the committee--which will be composed of animal control officials, board members, breeders and citizens--approves the proposal, it would be returned to the county Animal Control Advisory Board. The board could then recommend the proposal to the County Board of Supervisors, which would hold a public hearing and have the final vote. The process could take several months.

Advisory board member Patricia Frostholm said the county has tried educating pet owners to have their animals spayed but instead has wound up with a morgue “full of dead animals.”

“I think this (proposal) is a good way of going about (finding a solution),” she said.

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Gayle Roberts, a veterinarian who is a member of the board, agreed. “This is a simple, straightforward proposal that doesn’t try to do too much,” she said.

Board Chairman Todd Kopit, a veterinarian, voted against forming the committee. He said he is not necessarily opposed to the proposal but wants the board to examine the issue carefully.

“I want an ordinance that is workable and not so restrictive,” Kopit said. “I don’t want people looking in other people’s back yards.”

Hazel Mortensen, chairwoman of United Humanitarian, said the group proposed the ordinance because there is an oversupply of animals and curbs must be implemented.

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“I want people to realize that for every litter of six puppies, six puppies will have to be killed at the shelter,” she said. “People need to be educated to the problem.”

The ordinance would not apply in cities, even those that contract with the county for animal control.


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