Our interest in legislation covers many areas of animal welfare, but we are particularly focused on measures that curtail the breeding of cats and dogs, protect cats and dogs that have already been born, and require people causing or allowing theirs to breed to take full responsibility for the dependent lives they create.
Many bristle at the phrase “mandatory spay and neuter,” however well designed legislation of this nature includes exceptions. The point is to make neutering the default, so that thought, effort and planning have to go into keeping an animal intact.
Education and low cost sterilization are great tools in the war against pet overpopulation. When caring people become aware of the situation and have affordable options to do the right thing for the animals, they generally do. But there will always be those who choose not to know, or not to care. Effective legislation is the only way to protect innocent animals from being their throwaways or money crops.
Proposed legislation needs support, in the form of phone calls, letters, emails, attendance at council meetings, and spreading the word.
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Here is a beautiful explanation of why dog and cat breeding needs to be regulated, borrowed from The National Organization to End Pet Overpopulation (NOLO):
An excess of unwanted dogs and cats is a documented and escalating problem nationwide costing taxpayers billions over the years.
For decades, humanitarians have fought for bigger and better shelters where, ironically enough, larger numbers of pets can be housed and killed. But too few have fought in any significant manner to end the need for those shelters.
The answer to pet overpopulation is not in bigger and better shelters. The answer is not in adoptions. The answer is not in no-kill shelters. And, regrettably, as we have learned from experience since 1985, the answer is not in operating a highly successful low-cost (or often no-cost) neuter/spay clinic—even though our efforts have helped dramatically in saving tens of thousands of lives.
The basic rule of supply and demand is that you don't produce more of any product than you can sell or give away, be it automobiles, computers, pogo sticks or dogs and cats. If you do, it shouldn’t become the responsibility of the taxpayer to deal with the excess—as it is with the over proliferation of dogs and cats and community-run shelters paid for by taxpayers.
Legislators have never been shy in imposing taxes and regulations on every business and activity imaginable. Considering the costs to taxpayers and society, it borders on insanity to allow this activity, i.e. pet breeding, to continue to go unregulated.
Taxpayers and animal welfare advocates took a beating here in Oklahoma in 2004 when we at NOPO made our first attempt to introduce a sensible and comprehensive law aimed at reducing Oklahoma’s tremendous pet overpopulation problem.
As is the case wherever legislation is attempted anywhere in the nation, the propaganda machine of the American Kennel Club and the pet breeding industry springs into action by attempting to divert attention away from the facts: Pet breeding, whether intentional in commercial breeders or accidentally in the family pet, contributes to overpopulation and the only hope we have of resolving this disgrace is to get a handle on the breeding that causes it.
Breeders point to unaltered family pets and claim they are the only culprits. But they refuse to look within their own ranks—including the infamous puppy mills for which Oklahoma is so well known—and admit their industry might actually benefit from sensible legislation.
None of us in the animal welfare ranks are proposing laws that would outlaw breeding. Not by a long shot! The laws we advocate would simply require breeders and irresponsible pet owners to pick up some of the billion-dollar tab borne by taxpayers nationwide to operate the killing houses we call animal shelters.
As long as pet owners fail to act responsibly and lawmakers fail to regulate responsibly, taxpayers will continue to lose. Individual rescuers, humane societies and shelter workers, who deal with the carnage daily, will continue to see little reason for hope.
But the greatest losers are those who are senselessly destined for the euthanasia needle or something far less humane. They die for a sin no greater than being born into a world where, because of politics and greed, supply far exceeds demand.