South Florida Sun-Sentinel.com
Volusia passes mandatory pet sterilization ordinance
Sentinel Staff Writer
5:24 PM EDT, June 5, 2008
Volusia pet owners now have to spay or pay.
Thursday afternoon, the County Council passed a mandatory pet-sterilization ordinance -- the only one of its kind in Central Florida.
But the ordinance, designed to reduce the number of unwanted animals, has little bite: It will only be enforced through complaints and has many exemptions. If pet owners are caught with a fertile animal, they will be given a chance to comply but could eventually be fined up to $500.
While it's a first in the region, such laws have propagated across the country in recent years, facing opposition from groups, consisting mostly of breeders, who argue that they are unconstitutional. "How will mandating the castration of our pets reduce these numbers?" said Kathy Lucas, a Longwood resident who rescues dogs and traveled to Volusia County to protest. Lucas and other opponents, who waved yellow signs reading "Bad Ordinance" during the meeting, said it unfairly targeted responsible pet owners and could put animals' health at risk.
But representatives from shelters applauded Volusia's decision Thursday. At Halifax Humane Society in Daytona Beach, more than 11,000 animals were euthanized in the past fiscal year, a number that will be reduced with the ordinance, said Mel Stack, president of the animal shelter's board, who also offered the county a discount on shelter services if it passed the ordinance.
Pet owners can claim exemptions if they use animals for breeding, competitions, law enforcement, for help with a disability or other reasons. Owners of most exempt animals won't have to pay any extra but will have put microchips in their pets so they can be tracked if lost, according to the new ordinance.
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