North Las Vegas Adopts Pet Sterilization Law

A southern Nevada city has become the first in the area to pass a law requiring residents to spay or neuter their household pets.

"The most heroic surgery we do is spaying and neutering," said
Clarissa Engstrom, a veterinarian who spoke in favor of the ordinance before it was passed Wednesday by the North Las Vegas City Council. "Animals who aren't spayed or neutered end up having
problems."

The measure goes into effect in May in the city of about 200,000
human residents and an uncounted number of pets.

Clark County also is considering a law to require sterilization of dogs or cats repeatedly picked up by animal control officers, a county official said.

The North Las Vegas law requires dogs and cats to be sterilized
before they reach 4 months of age, with exceptions for breeders,
people with city-issued animal fancier permits, and for animals that a veterinarian deems medically unfit for sterilization.

Violations are a misdemeanor, punishable by up to six months in jail and a fine of up to $1,000.

Al Noyola, assistant director of police services, said enforcement will largely depend on the honor system.

"Once we start educating the public about the new ordinance and
enforcement, I think we're going to have pretty substantial compliance," he said, adding that police called to complaints of barking dogs might also ask whether the animal has been spayed or neutered.

Veterinarians and animal welfare activists say unsterilized cats and dogs are more likely to suffer some illnesses, and risk being hit by cars or injured while roaming in search of a mate.

Chris Robinson, director of the Lied Animal Shelter, said she hoped the law will decrease the number of shelter animals euthanized.

"It's a move in the right direction to deal with the problem of pet overpopulation," she said.

Las Vegas, North Las Vegas and Clark County all contract with Lied, the valley's largest animal shelter. Officials said overcrowding last February contributed to an outbreak of illnesses that led to the destruction of 1,000 animals.

Lied took in about 49,200 animals in 2007, and euthanized about 26,500, Robinson said. In 2006, the shelter took in about 52,000 animals and euthanized about 24,000.
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Information from: Las Vegas Review-Journal, http://www.lvrj.com

(Copyright 2008 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

AP-NY-01-04-08 1154EST


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