Debates over the California Healthy Pets Act continue as the act has moved on to the Senate. One city in California has had a mandatory spay/neuter law for the past 12 years and is “being touted as a model” in these debates. In 1995, Santa Cruz County became one of the first in California to mandate the spaying/neutering of pets. Officials for Santa Cruz animal organizations say that they see improvements in shelters after the spay/neuter law came into effect.
“There was a time when we would euthanize for space — we’d pick five or six animals that had to be killed to make room for incoming strays,” said Tricia Geisreiter, the county’s animal services coordinator.
Before 1995, the shelter warehoused 14,000 animals a year. Today, it takes in about 5,500. Euthanasia has dropped from 30 percent to 17 percent of sheltered dogs and from 60 to 50 percent of sheltered cats.
In Santa Cruz today, more of the sheltered animals get adopted because they can stay longer in their cages. They can stay longer because there’s more room — spaying and neutering laws have resulted in fewer unwanted litters and fewer strays roaming the beaches and streets, officials say.
Mandatory spay-neuter in Santa Cruz “changed morale in the shelters,” said Jody Cramer, the Santa Cruz SPCA director from 1991 to 1998.