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Department of Animal Services cuts spay and neuter voucher program for low-income pet owners

March 16, 2009 |  4:54 pm

Vet Last year, Angelenos were abuzz with the news that a new regulation required all L.A. dogs and cats to be spayed or neutered.  (The new law excepted some animals from the spay/neuter requirement, including show dogs and cats, law enforcement and service dogs, pets deemed too old or sick for surgery by a veterinarian, and puppies and kittens under 4 months old.)

Many animal advocates applauded the move, saying it was a step forward in the effort to end the pet overpopulation problem.  Others argued that the spay/neuter law was just another nanny-state regulation that unfairly targeted pet owners. 

One major concern as the law went into effect was for its impact on low-income pet owners, and the L.A. city shelter system sought to combat this by offering vouchers for free or low-cost spay and neuter surgeries.  But, our colleague Carla Hall reports on the L.A. Now blog, economic necessity has caused the Department of Animal Services to cut the voucher program:

The move, says L.A. Animal Services General Manager Ed Boks, was budget-related. He says the agency  was compelled by the city to make up a budget shortfall of $414,000. Ending the spay and neuter vouchers will save about $150,000, Boks says.

But animal welfare advocates are angry.

"Penny wise and pound foolish," declared activist Daniel Guss. Meanwhile, at least some of the members of the L.A. City Council, which approved the city ordinance on sterilization, are not pleased either.

Councilman Dennis Zine "strongly opposes the recent decision made by the department to halt the voucher program" and will move later this week for the council to reinstate the program, according to an e-mail that Zine's policy director, Christopher Olsen, sent to animal welfare advocates.

Do you think it's fair for a city to require sterilization of pets without providing assistance to low-income pet owners? 

-- Lindsay Barnett

Photo: Joe Raedle / Getty Images

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