The Walter Crowe Animal Shelter in SC kills half its pets. They are now sending some of their pets up north to be adopted – specifically Wisconsin. This is good. It leaves fewer pets at the shelter to be killed.
The shelter director Sharon Jones was interviewed by the local news about it:
Within 48 hours of arriving in Milwaukee, Jones said all the dogs will be adopted.
“There’s a shortage of dogs there so this is our second trip to Milwaukee,” said animal rescuer Ron Danta.
Danta set up the exchange and said states like Wisconsin show animal population control is possible.
“They have laws that we don’t and they enforce their laws,” said Jones.
Jones referenced laws such as making it mandatory to spay and neuter pets, and limiting who can breed animals. Laws that Jones said are non-existent in South Carolina.
“We’re working at, we got to keep going. I can’t give up until we make a change,” said Jones.
I wanted to look at these claims carefully to examine Wisconsin’s pet laws and their enforcement. My internet search found only one law that appeared to be relevant to the claims made above: Wisconsin Act 90 (pdf). This is a law which requires licensing for any dog breeder who sells more than 25 dogs per year, provided the pups come from more than 3 litters. In order to purchase the license, the breeder must have his facility inspected and then allow inspections every 2 years thereafter. The law also outlines standards of care including sufficient food, water and vet care.
As far as the claim that Wisconsin has a law “limiting who can breed animals”, I would give this a rating of HALF-TRUTH. The law does limit dog breeders of certain production volume to those individuals willing to pay the licensing fee ($250 – $1000 per year, depending on sales volume) and able to pass the required inspections. But as far as John Q. Public’s cat having a litter of kittens every spring or Mary Jo Breeder mating her dog Fluffy to Neighbor Bob’s dog Rosco – no restrictions.
Regarding the claim “they enforce their laws”, I have to give that a FALSE since Wisconsin’s Act 90 doesn’t even go into effect until June 2011. It remains to be seen how well the law will be enforced.
As for MSN, Wisconsin does not have it. I searched through some of Wisconsin’s major cities (including Milwaukee) for MSN laws but couldn’t find anything. In fact, as far as I know, Wisconsin doesn’t even require shelter pets to be neutered at the time of adoption. So the claim that WI has and enforces a mandatory spay neuter law gets a PANTS ON FIRE.
- The city of Los Angeles enacted MSN in 2008 and after the first year, shelter intake and killings were up. Killings increased after the second year as well.
- When CA was considering statewide MSN legislation in 2007, the past president of the California Veterinary Medical Association wrote a lengthy letter to the Board detailing his opposition.
- Killings and costs both went up in King Co, WA after MSN was passed.
As a result, most every major animal welfare group in the country opposes MSN. That list includes:
- The No Kill Advocacy Center explains “Why Punitive Legislation Fails” (pdf)
- Alley Cat Allies points out that MSN does not reach most intact cats (pdf)
- The “ASPCA is not aware of any credible evidence demonstrating a statistically significant enhancement in the reduction of shelter intake or euthanasia as a result of the implementation of a mandatory spay/neuter law.”
- The American Veterinary Medical Association opposes MSN.
There is no need for SC to enact laws which cost more money and kill more pets. Nor is there a need to reinvent the wheel. We could follow the successful model in Calgary for example:
Key to Calgary’s success
- no – mandatory spay/neuter
- no – breed specific legislation
- no – pet limit laws
- no – anti-tethering laws
- yes – providing valued services rather than simply punishing citizens into compliance
- yes – buy in and cooperation among community stakeholders thanks to an animal control director who is a professional mediator
- yes – extensive education and PR campaign to emphasize responsible pet ownership
- yes – low license fees and modest fee differential for intact pets
Or SC could follow the model currently developing in Austin. Or anyplace else that has implemented the No Kill Equation. But we need strong leadership. We need our shelter directors to abandon their crusades for pet killing laws like MSN and embrace the no kill philosophy and laws such as the one recently passed in Delaware.
I admire this sentiment: “I can’t give up until we make a change”. I want change too. I want SC to leave behind the antiquated ideas of killing pets for population control and move forward with no kill reforms. And I too will not give up.