Darien, Connecticut — Friends of Animals (FoA) has proposed a bill to make pre-adoption spaying and neutering mandatory in Connecticut. The bill was not initially raised in committee (the first of many steps a bill takes on its journey to becoming law), but we have the opportunity this Friday to attach our bill to one of several suitable animal advocacy bills now in the Environment Committee. FoA will attend the Environment Committee public hearing Friday, 2/28 at 11am (Legislative Office Building, Hartford) to testify on behalf of this legislation.

The language of the bill is as follows: No animal shelter, pound, animal control officer, humane society, dog or cat protective association or duly incorporated society for the prevention of cruelty to animals shall release any dog or cat for adoption to any person unless prior thereto the dog or cat has been spayed or neutered.

Similar bills have been passed into law and successfully applied in New York, California, and Massachusetts, as well as in many cities and towns throughout the U.S.

People are shocked to learn that in a state as prosperous and forward-thinking as Connecticut, 9,000-10,000 healthy, adoptable dogs and cats are killed in our shelter system each year. In 2000-2001, municipal animal control facilities reported killing 3,239 animals, according to the Connecticut Department of Agriculture. This doesn’t include those animals killed at private shelters, which are not required to report their killing totals to the state. However, when The Connecticut Humane Society last made its figures known, in 1997, they acknowledged having killed 6,425 animals that year (The Hartford Courant). If one adds 6,425 to the 3,239 animals killed in municipal shelters in 2000-2001, one can project the killing of 9,000-10,000 cats and dogs in Connecticut annually.

The Current Program is Insufficient

Frank Ribaudo, director of the Animal Population Control Program, estimates that the redemption rate for the current spay/neuter voucher system hovers around 70%. The state’s death toll clearly shows that the program is not sufficiently addressing the pet overpopulation problem.

Animals’ Health and Behavior

The risk of cancer is drastically decreased in a sterilized animal. Male dogs are much more likely to contract prostate cancer if they are not neutered. Female dogs face risk of mammary cancer. Additionally, the earlier a dog or cat is altered, the lower the risk: An animal neutered before six months of age has almost a 100% chance of living prostate or ovarian cancer-free. Neutering a male dog or cat reduces displays of aggression and territorial behavior such as “marking”; a sterilized animal is less likely to wander from home or clamber to escape in order to procreate.

The Veterinary Community Supports It

The Connecticut Veterinary Medical Association (CTVMA) supports a mandatory spay/neuter law. Leo L. Lieberman, DVM, has endorsed the proposed bill. Dr. Lieberman, onetime President of the CTVMA, is lauded as a pioneer in the field of early-age spay/neuter, and received the Geraldine R. Dodge Humane Ethics in Action Award for his work in early-age spay/neuter and prevention of companion animal overpopulation. Early-age spay/neuter has been endorsed by the CTVMA and the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA). The AVMA states that they “…support the concept of early (eight to 16 weeks of age) spays and castrations in dogs and cats, in an effort to stem the overpopulation problem in these species.”