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L.A. County will require cat owners to spay or neuter and microchip their pets

A feral cat ready to be fixed lies on the operating table at Fix Nation Inc. a nonprofit organization full–time spay/neuter clinic in Sun Valley for homeless, stray and feral cats. Los Angeles County will require residents of unincorporated areas to spay or neuter and microchip their cats.

A feral cat ready to be fixed lies on the operating table at Fix Nation Inc. a nonprofit organization full–time spay/neuter clinic in Sun Valley for homeless, stray and feral cats. Los Angeles County will require residents of unincorporated areas to spay or neuter and microchip their cats.

(Irfan Khan / Los Angeles Times)

Los Angeles County supervisors on Tuesday passed a long-awaited mandate for residents of the county’s unincorporated areas to spay or neuter and microchip their cats.

Although the number of stray dogs euthanized in county shelters has dropped in recent years, cats that get picked up continue to face grim prospects. Last year, the county Department of Animal Care and Control impounded 28,911 cats, and 21,055 of them were euthanized.

The county already requires dogs to be spayed or neutered and microchipped.

Vouchers of $50 to offset the cost of “fixing” the cats will be available for all county residents until the first $125,000 of funding is spent. After that, they will continue to be issued to low-income cat owners, Department of Animal Care and Control Director Marcia Mayeda said.

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Supervisor Michael D. Antonovich, who proposed the requirement, said in a statement that it would reduce the “uncontrolled breeding of cats that can turn into a severe public health concern” and “help identify the owners of the nearly 29,000 cats that are impounded annually and prevent them from being euthanized.”

There will be exemptions for cat owners who can show a medical reason for not performing the surgery on their pets, and for show cats. The ordinance limits breeding to one litter per year for female cats and no more than five litters in a cat’s lifetime.

Cat owners and advocates praised the move, which Lisa Lange of People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals called a “long overdue life-saving measure.”

Joey Herrick, founder of Lucy Pet Foundation, which runs mobile spay and neuter clinics, agreed.

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“There’s too many cats going into the shelter, and there’s no chance of a home,” he said.

Mayeda said enforcement of the new mandate will be based on complaints, and pet owners will be given a warning and a chance to comply before being penalized.

For more county government news, follow @sewella


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