Controversial Attempt to Curb A Growing Problem

Bob Barker's been saying it for years — have your pets spayed or neutered. But a lot of people aren't listening, and they're costing California millions of dollars a year.

A new bill, authored by California State Assemblyman Lloyd Levine, offers a unique solution. The California Healthy Pets Act (AB 1634) would require every dog and cat in California, older than four months, to be spayed or neutered — or pet owners could face fines of $500 per animal.

Levine hopes to reduce the surplus animal population so that the state won't have to spend tons of money to house, care, or euthanize them. The bill would allow numerous exemptions to licensed breeders and law enforcement agencies. However, a lot of people, including some animal lovers, are fighting the bill; dozens of organizations and adoption agencies are concerned that this bill is an example of mandatory birth control, and is an abuse of governmental power. READ MORE | • WATCH THE VIDEO

While there's no guarantee that the AB 1634 bill could become state law, FNC wants to know — Do you think the bill impinges on the property rights of owning a pet? Or do you think this measure could help local governments reduce the amount of money spent on animal control services and should therefore be enforced? Please e-mail your response to, and check in later to see if it was posted!

Here's what some FOX Fans are saying:

"The selfish decision not to spay or neuter ones pets effects everyone. I live Los Angeles, and I have rescued numerous dogs and cats in and around my neighborhood. I work for the city and there too have I been asked to help with homeless animals. The legitimate breeders will not be affected in a negative way by John Q. Public having to step up and be responsible for the lives of future animals. If everyone would take a trip to their local dog shelter and see the beautiful faces of all the animals that will be killed tomorrow, they may change their opinion. It is wrong not to save as many lives as possible and that means preventing new lives as well." — Dawn (German Shepherd Rescue)

"Yes, AB 1634 impinges on people's rights. The supposed overpopulation problem — actually a relinquishment issue, a failure to enforce existing laws, and/or a lack of TNR policies (trap, neuter, release/cats) — will not be lessened by banning the purposeful breeding of particular animals." — MM

"For all of you people who think that mandatory neutering is going to save the taxpayer's money, think again! The city's taxes that go to maintaining shelters would be spent on something that is more foolish than taking care of an animal." — Jake (Houston, TX)

"I wish Alabama would pass the same mandatory neutering law California is considering. Neighbors on both sides let their un-neutered pets run loose and unfortunately we have many strays and homeless animals in my area that are either the result of or partially caused by these pets. I'm typically very conservative with a desire to reduce government and regulations, but California's bill is similar to the seat belt law where without it most people are just to lazy or dumb to take personal responsibility." — Pete (Madison, AL)

"I am against AB 1634. It is just one more law that takes away another one of our basic rights — freedom of choice. Those people that purport to be animal lovers and own one or several now had better love them more because if this bill is passed and enacted, there will be no more pets to be had or loved nor service dogs to assist the disabled. People need to give their head a shake and look at the big picture. Genocide of the pet population. Dogs and cats are only the beginning!" — Vicki

"This bill will not help the situation; good dog owners don’t breed, it is the bad dog owners that do this so often. Making every person that has a dog neuter their animal is absurd! I totally disagree with this bill. I have had two dogs in California, and neither had or have been neutered. The animals are like my children it won’t do unnecessary surgery just to please a bunch of politicians that want money! Every time they say the money collected will go to that problem it doesn’t it goes to some private political drive they want the money for!" — Alessandra

"I do not want the personality of my Lab changed by having him fixed. There is also the weight gain." — Jimmy (LaGrange, GA)

"I understand folks feeling this bill will impact their rights as a pet owner, but, obviously, a lot of owners are not responsible owners. Educating the public is not working, we need to do something now, to control the unwanted kittens and puppies, before more are euthanized. I do kitten/cat rescue and pickup pregnant cats from the shelters ¾ of the year. Please help to stop the overpopulation of pets now." — Carolyn (San Diego, CA)

"I completely agree with Brenda, the Central CA SPCA employee. I am an SPCA volunteer, and I have seen hundreds of perfectly wonderful animals surrendered for some of the most ridiculous reasons you can imagine. I seriously doubt that anyone who opposes this bill has ever had to witness shelter employees crying as they walk a favorite dog down the hall to the euthanasia room, for no other reason except that the shelter got too full. I am sure they have never experienced the gut-wrenching broken heart of a volunteer who falls in love with shelter cat, only to come in to the shelter a day or two later to find that the cat has been euthanized for lack of space. I'm sure they have never spent enough time in a shelter to recognize the hopeful pleas on the faces of some of the best dogs you would ever meet, or see the sad, broken-hearted faces of beautiful, healthy cats who are confused and scared because they've just lost the only home they've ever known. This bill may not be necessary if there were only responsible, experienced breeders out there, but unfortunately, that is not and never will be the case. For the people who feel their rights are being impinged by this bill, I suggest that you run, do not walk, to the nearest animal shelter and take a good hard look at what results from NOT spaying and neutering." — Linda (Sacramento, CA)

"The animal rights activists should be required to round up, kennel and feed the strays. My guess is that would end any opposition to a spay and neuter law." — Mike (Dunnellon, FL)

"I am against AB 1634. It marks the beginning of the end of purebred dogs and freedom of choice for the pet owner. Almost all of the dogs in the shelter system are from backyard breeders and puppymills, NOT responsible breeders. And since most of the puppymills are outside of California, they will not be impacted by this bill. Truthfully, not everyone wants to adopt a dog from a shelter. There are many people that want a particular breed and want that dog to be from good bloodlines and a responsible breeder. As it stands today, there are not enough well bred dogs available anyhow, passing bills like this one will just make it worse." — Vicki

"Although I am not from California, I hardily support the mandatory spay/neuter bill being proposed in California. I am a volunteer with a rescue group in Illinois, called The Buddy Foundation, and the only way we will ever get the pet population under control is by controlling irresponsible breeders and pet owners. The breeders say they will be forced to go out of business because of taxes being placed on them. Nothing could be further than the truth. These people make thousands of dollars over breeding their animals and will most likely just add the cost of the tax under the price charged for the animal, which will in-turn be added on to the price paid by the consumer. I, too, many years ago didn't understand why animals ended up in shelters. By far it is almost always the fault of their humans. Animals, like most of what we 'own,' are just throw away when it is no longer easy or in fashion. When that puppy grows up and is bigger and has little or no training, it's easy to just dump it and get another baby to play with. I look forward to the day when our entire nation stands behind required spay and neuter. At least we will finally then get people to do the right thing." — Louise

"There is no doubt that AB1634 impinges on the property rights of law-abiding citizens. People of California need to wake up. Get the government out of our personal lives. What's next — spay/neuter your children because we have too many people in the state?!" — K.M. (San Diego, CA)

"Yes, we think taxpayer monies can be saved having to put down fewer pound animals owners who can afford pets will be able to properly care for them and provide necessary medical care thank you so much for airing the educational piece on mandatory spay/neuter bill." — Mike and Ursula (Encino, CA)

"I traveled a lot over the last 15 years, and every where that I stayed had a excess pet population. In Texas, they didn't euthanize the animals, so when they filled the pound they wouldn't take any more. In Colorado, they euthanized all the time. In Maine, there giving animals away to make room. How do all these animals come about? Irresponsible pet owners not neutering or spading there animals. Most pet owners will never professionally breed their pet, so why shouldn't they be fixed. If they want to breed them they can buy the permit to keep them breed-able. So what is the issue? The only other reason to not neuter the male dog is to be able to make it aggressive. So in conclusion the only people that are against it are the irresponsible pet owners, and people that want aggressive dogs that eat neighborhood kids." — Charles

"Laws become necessary in situations where humans do not exercise responsible behavior, Remember, these are animals. No pet owner has an inalienable right to populate the community with unlicensed, uncared for pets who often spread disease and filth, and usually die cruel and miserable deaths. This is not only for the good for the human population. It's good for the animals as well. Bravo to the lawmaker with the guts to propose it." — J.M. (Houston. TX)

"Although I don't consider animals 'property' (although there is often a fee to attain them), owning a pet comes with certain ethical and legal obligations, and unfortunately not every pet owner is responsible, so legislation becomes necessary, just as child welfare laws are in place to protect the children of irresponsible parents. Every year in CA, over 800,000 dogs and cats end up in our city and county shelters (this does NOT include SPCAS, humane societies, or other rescue groups). Of those, over half are killed, for no other reason than the fact that there are too many animals and not enough people to adopt them. We taxpayers foot the bill for the quarter of a billion dollars it costs to shelter and euthanize those animals every year, and it only gets higher every year. That money could be used for other programs and services our state desperately needs, including even more low cost and free spay and neuter programs than are already available. There is no question that this bill will have a profound effect on bringing those numbers down and saving California taxpayers money. It has already been proven to be effective in other communities that have passed similar legislation." — Elizabeth (Beverly Hills, CA)

"I am an employee at the Central California SPCA, and we receive an average of about 50,000 plus animals a year. We turn no animal away no mater what the health or temperament. When our shelter is full we must find a way to make room. Our shelter is always full, due to an unforgivable overpopulation problem here in our valley. We need help; this bill will be a huge step in the right direction. Look in to the faces of our euthanasia technicians, after they have compassionately spent an entire day extinguishing the lives of many wonderful animals because there is no place on earth for them to go. We work hard to find homes for as many as we can, we send many to rescues that are also full. Those lives saved are the only salvation we have when your heart just can't take one more fun loving lab; little brown Chihuahua, sweet tabby cat or the beautiful, smiling, devoted Pit-bull having to die because we are full. We see the remnants of breeders, backyard or otherwise in our shelter everyday. I wish we could know each animal's story, however, I am sure if we did we would surely die of a broken heart. Anyone who opposes this should sit for one day at our front desk, spend an hour in our euthanasia room, or one minute in our freezer. I am so grateful for this bill and for the hope that it gives me for our animals. Those in the media that speak poorly of it or try to minimize the need should be ashamed of themselves. Most know nothing about the problem of overpopulation that is apparent every time they speak. Our animals deserve better! Thank you so much; to all that support this bill you renew our optimism for a better tomorrow." — Brenda

"When something becomes as out of control as our unwanted pet population, it is time for some kind of limit to be set. Most citizens are too far removed from the view of shelter animals, their deaths and the cost involved, to grasp the reality of the issue. People don't want to know, or even think about, the horrific situation that exists at the present time. It has been demonstrated, over time, that giving people personal responsibility for spaying and neutering their pets has only contributed to this tragic and expensive ongoing problem. This measure would provide a tool for making positive change for all, including a much better use of existing funds and a reduction in the killing of pets, turned in to the shelter." — Paula (Los Angeles, CA)

"I think the spay/neuter laws will not curb the euthanization of animals. As a dog fancier, I have strong feelings about this. A lot of people will turn in their animals before they would pay to have the necessary operations. I believe in spaying and neutering pets because it is healthier for the pet, but there are those of us who are showing and using our animals in AKC events and they cannot be fixed. Also, if some owners' pets are not found running the streets like some strays, but are instead humanely treated in the privacy of their own homes, then who are [the legislators] to tell us what we must do with them." — Ruth

"I don't think AB 1634 impinges on property rights. We are talking about living beings who have a right to live a long and healthy life and not look forward to being killed in a pound. It is time this killing stopped." — Marlene

"I wholeheartedly support this bill! As a volunteer in dog rescue, I check the pounds regularly for dogs we can help. I have nightmares for days afterwards, remembering all the beautiful souls with wounded, fearful eyes, knowing their days are coming to an end, because not a single person on this earth loves them. Property rights over the lives of others; no, this does not impinge on people's property rights. 'Owning' another's life comes with huge responsibilities; and apparently, at least a million people every year (in California alone) shirk this responsibility. If the breeders don't bother to screen people so the dogs and cats go to a good home, and then won't take the pets back when things don't work out, and THEN leave it up to the taxpayers to fund this slaughter of innocents...well, these people have abrogated their rights along with their responsibilities." — Jane

"When considering whether or not AB 1634 impinges on the property rights of pet owners, perhaps it is more important to ask whether or not irresponsible pet owners are impinging on my rights as a taxpayer." — Darlene (San Diego, CA)

"Pet ownership should require certain responsibilities, such as adequate food, water and veterinary care. Spay/neuter should be part of this package. Aside from the high costs borne by us taxpayers, wonderful animals that deserve to live are suffering and dying daily. I support this bill, absolutely!" — Meredith (San Diego, CA)

"People who don't spay or neuter their pets impose costs on taxpayers because of the increased need for animal control services. The unwanted puppies and kittens also suffer when they are abandoned and killed. Let's be honest about this." — Carolyn

"I believe that this measure could help local governments reduce the amount of money spent on animal control services and should therefore be enforced." — Lucia (Los Angeles, CA)

"I think AB1634 is long overdue. It certainly does NOT impinge on the property rights of owning a pet, but it does insist upon a certain amount of responsibility on the part of a pet owner. The failure of pet owners to have their pets neutered impinges on the rights (not to mention the wallets) of non-pet owners every day. I TOTALLY support AB1634." — Andrea

"I am in favor of trying to spay and neuter all dogs and cats, simply because it is the most sensible thing to do. However, this bill will not be successful, any more than increased registration fees, leash laws, nuisance dogs regulations, etc. have been successful. The same irresponsible pet owners will not spay and nueter, no matter what a new law dictates … I would expect a huge increase in dumped kittens and puppies." — Allyn

"I OPPOSE the California Healthy Pets Act. To answer your question I do feel this impinges on my rights as a pet owner. I do not want the Government telling me what health decisions to make for my pet. Spay and neuter can cause health issues … plus, mandatory spay/neuter laws do not have a good history of being effective-San Diego County chose not to enact such a law; it was an failure in San Mateo County, CA; other municipalities have decided to write laws which reward responsible pet owners and enforce laws which catch and punish irresponsible ones. Pet owners who don't follow current laws surely won't follow this one, instead this law will impact already responsible pet owners." — Vicki

"AB 1634 is necessary to begin to get the heartbreaking overpopulation of dogs and cats under control. It includes exemptions for legitimate reasons, so I don't buy the breeders' objections. Maybe they just don't want their under-the-table businesses to be on the government radar where they should be. And yes, purebreds do end up in shelters and rescue groups every day. Anyone who is in involved in rescue knows this. Why else would there be such a variety of breed-specific rescue groups? California needs to lead the way on this issue, just as it has on so many others." — Janet (Loomis, CA)

"Please pass this bill, it would end a lot of pain and suffering. They're just on enough homes for everyone. I am an animal rescuer and you have no idea what we see." — Tamie

"From what I've researched this bill AB1634 will significantly reduce the amount of taxpayer money spent on housing and killing animals within a short time frame. Money better spent on other public services." — Evelyn (West Hollywood, CA)

"This bill could make a huge difference in reducing pet overpopulation and the associated costs to taxpayers of caring for and killing shelter animals. Santa Cruz, California passed a mandatory neutering ordinance in 1995, and has seen shelter intake numbers drop by 60 percent in the subsequent 10-year period, while shelter adoption rates have also gone up. King County, Washington passed an ordinance of this kind in 1992, and licensing went up, not down, as opponents claim it will. And increased licensing means increased revenue. The numbers tell the story. AB 1634 will save money and lives." — Lee (Santa Barbara, CA)

"I support AB 1634 completely. The numbers of young, healthy, animals both purebreds and mixes that are euthanized every year is appalling. This bill will encourage responsible breeding. I am an animal lover and I am a taxpayer. I want to see the end of this useless killing and I want my tax dollars to be spent on something that helps our society." — Joni (Los Angeles, CA)

"I understand the personal privacy and rights aspect, but animal overpopulation — aside from the horrors of mass euthanasia — costs taxpayers money and when that happens, it becomes a public issue. Like mandatory rabies vaccination, this is an issue of individual responsibility that, because it impacts the public interest, should be appropriately legislated." — Deborah (Seal Beach, CA)

"I have no objection to the proposed legislation as long as it is amended to nclude all members of the state legislature. With that kind of amendment, it would certainly be something of great benefit to us here in New York." — Philip (East Greenbush, NY)

"No rights are being violated except the animals' rights to a good life. Yes, this is a fiscally responsible bill and we owe it to the taxpayers to consider the impact of housing and euthanizing excess pets. A society that can deal with other creatures in a compassionate and responsible way should be encouraged." — Cheryl

"This bill won't prevent anyone from breeding; it will require them to buy a license to breed. Big deal! We require a license for hunting animals and catching fish, it's time to control the breeding of animals. Lets encourage quality breeders can produce quality dogs and cats, and let's help animal shelters can cut back on the needless killing of unwanted puppies and kittens and help taxpayers save their money!" — Kat (Clovis, CA)

"I love my cat and she has been spayed, but it is ridiculous to FORCE people to spay or neuter their pets." — Susan

"I don't care how much money the government is saving, this is best for pets. I think it should be mandatory for pet owners to spay/neuter their pets, otherwise they just end up in the shelters. It breaks my heart to see how many innocent dogs and cats are destroyed each year because irresponsible pet owners do not spay or neuter their pets and can't care for the offspring. I would love to see the day when shelters are no longer overcrowded and there is actually a waiting list to adopt a cat or dog." — Dog lover (Illinois)

"Despite the fact that I am a lover of dogs, I currently do not have a pet due to my on-the-go lifestyle. I know that I do not have the time and effort it takes to properly care for a dependent animal. In the past, I always had my pets neutered at an early age. Should I have another pet in the future, I will do the same. I took neutering my pets seriously, just as I would if I were caring for a child. If others were to have the same outlook that I have, there would be a great deal less of abused, abandoned and euthanized animals. Unfortunately, many others don't have the same morals, so I think the government feels that they must make laws forcing those people to do the proper thing. As for breeders and service animal groups, as in any other business, the cost of care for the animal (which includes neutering or not neutering the animal) is most likely always passed on to the consumer in the cost of the product. I cannot see how the increase in fees will drive them underground or out of business. Any good breeder will pay the higher fee in order to stay in business. If I were to consider purchasing an animal from a breeder that did not or would not pay the higher fee, I would think twice about purchasing from them. It would make me wonder what else they are or are not doing that is illegal." — B.L. (Evansville, IN)

"AB 1634 is prohibition for animals. If we have learned anything from the disastrous anti-drinking legislation of the 1920s, it is that strict controls are very costly to enforce, ultimately fail without widespread social support, and will only spawn black market activity in animal trade too horrible to imagine. There are good animal abuse laws now on the books. Strengthen them to add deterrence and enforce them! If state animal abuse agencies cannot enforce current law, how can AB 1634 make any difference? Let's think people." — D.S. (St. Louis, MO)

"Have you noticed that the people who speak out against this bill are the very people whose interests are completely self-serving? With all the beautiful animals being destroyed, how could encouraging spay/neuter possibly be a bad thing?! The people who are opposed should be forced to watch the disgusting euthanization process and hold these animals before they go in." — Kim (Sacramento, CA)

"I don't think AB 1634 infringes on the rights of animal lovers/care takers. I am an animal lover, and take care of four. All of the animals I care for are spayed/neutered because there is a problem with not enough homes for animals, and I have heard that it is healthier for animals if they are spayed/neutered. A responsible owner would spay or neuter his or her animal they care for, but there should be and probably would be some provision for breeders." — Tamara

"YES! The bill impinges on the property rights of owning a pet." — Janice

"I am for anything that humanely advances the reduction in euthanasia rates for so many loving and adorable domestic animals that people simply discard for a variety of illogical and irrational reasons. And forget about 'pet education' policies. Half of California's population doesn't speak, nor understands, English, and a significant percentage of the rest simply don't care about living things. Just look how they treat and talk with their children in public; I'd be embarrassed to have half of the people in many parts of California who are by title called 'parents' actually be my mom or dad." — Michael

"I am an advocate of animal owner responsibility and, as I type this, one of my cats is in the vet's office being spayed. I, however, do not believe the proposed California law is going to bring about the results the proponents think it will. I believe it will simply cause people not to house their pets, opting to let them run free so as to avoid paying penalties for not altering their pets. In the long run, I think the rescue societies and pounds will be much fuller and more animals will suffer as a result." — Carol (North Carolina)

"If this bill passes, we are even more stupid than I thought. Are we still living in America?" — Linda

"This is a great law. Hopefully it will instill in people that they actually have to take responsibility for their animals, rather than treating them as toys that can be discarded at will." — JD

"I am IN SUPPORT of AB 1634 and I am a licensed dog breeder in California. I know it will help the pet overpopulation problem. It will not hurt the breeders who are operating legally now. And, it will save California money year after year! I hope it passes." — Denise (Perris, CA)

"Since this bill allows exemptions for breeders and service animals, no, I don't think it impinges on the property rights of owning a pet any more than having to get your car registered and insured impinges on your property rights of owning a car. How many other entities other than breeders have thus far gotten away with exchanging a commodity for compensation without having to be regulated with permits, licenses, etc. It is long overdue." — Patty (Wilton, CA)