Austin considers mandatory spay/neuter ordinance

AUSTIN (KXAN) — “He’s our baby.”

They’re more than just animals for Sue Lowe, these furry friends are a part of her family. “It’s just fun to have like a child, we think of him as a child,” says Sue.

But not all dogs have a loving home. Many wind up as strays and in crowded shelters. To control the dog and cat population in Austin, the city is considering an ordinance that would require owners to spay or neuter their pets.

“I think that’s just part of being a responsible pet owner,” says Jessie Drago, who has one dog.

Austin Animal Center says making spay/neuter mandatory could have unintended consequences, more animals could end up in the shelter. “Many communities around the nation that have implemented mandatory spay/neuter have seen an increase in intake,” says Tawny Hammond, Austin’s chief animal services officer.

Hammond worries people may even skip out on free pet services, like a rabies shot, out of fear of being fined for not complying with the ordinance.

“[They may also fear] getting in trouble with a municipality for mandatory spay/neuter,” says Hammond.

Sue says before they pick out the perfect addition to their family, owners should factor in the cost to spay or neuter. “Dogs are expensive, they are, and when someone gets a dog they have to keep that in mind,” says Sue.

The Health and Human Services committee meets tomorrow afternoon to discuss the possible ordinance. The Austin Animal Center, which will be presenting to the committee, does not recommend making spay or neuter mandatory.

The center took in more than 18,600 animals in the last fiscal year, which is down just slightly from the previous year.

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