Bakersfield researches mandatory spay and neutering

Published 05/19 2014 06:34PM

Updated 05/19 2014 06:47PM

BAKERSFIELD, CA -- Six months ago, the city and county established separate animal shelters. Now, Bakersfield is looking at new strategies to reduce animal populations without killing cats and dogs.

Animal control and city officials said they need more research on whether the city should make spaying and neutering pets mandatory the way Riverside, San Bernadino, and Santa Cruz County have implimented similar law.

"The city has way too many dogs in the streets," said Bakersfield resident and animal advocate Valerie Shumaker.

"I'm afraid to leave my house on a Sunday, because I'm going to see a loose dog and the shelters are closed. I don't know what to do."

Shumaker is in favor of mandatory spay and neutering, which is currently voluntary in Bakersfield.

"Most places that this has been done, it's been done on a county-wide level first and then the cities follow," said Bakersfield SPCA executive director Julie Johnson.

"So, doing it opposite might be different and we just need to look at what that means."

City leaders said so far this year only 13 percent of pet owners, who received new pet licenses followed through with getting their pet spayed or neutered. Councilmember Russell Johnson suggested an incentrive that may appeal to the pet owners that won't cost the city a dime.

"Instead of us giving out a $40 dollar voucher, if they go out, have their animal altered, and bring it back in, we give them a license for say 3 years or a multiple number of years," said Johnson.

"That way the city is not out the $40 dollars, the resident gets a license that would have cost them more than the $40 dollars the city was subsidizing."

City Councilmembers and animal control officials will revisit the issue in October.

The Bakersfield SPCA received a grant to train local veterinarians on a non-surgical neutering shot. Next month, eight veterinarians will do a trial neutering on 40 dogs. The procedure is for male dogs only and it's a shot instead of a scalpel.

Animal officials said the shot permanently sterilizes the dog for life and is quick and painless for the animal.

"They don't have to be knocked out, fully anaesthicized to administer the procedure," said Julie Johnson.

"It's very fast, it's permanent, you're done. And for those who, the pet owners, who really don't want to lose the macho look of their dog, they don't have to worry about it with this shot."

The dogs with the shot have to get a tattooed "Z" indicating they've been neutered.

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