Riverside Co. gets heated over spay law

RIVERSIDE, Calif. It's a growing problem in Riverside County. Officials say last year more than 30,000 cats and dogs were impounded in shelters. Most of those animals were euthanized.

Many say the problem lies with irresponsible pet owners, who let unspayed, unneutered animals loose, free to run all over the neighborhood -- sending the pet population spiralling out of control.

"I mean we're just producing and producing. We have a 24/7 production line of them, and nobody wants them," said ordinance supporter Linda Biggi.

That's why people like Linda Biggi of Palm Desert showed up at the meeting to support the ordinance.

The ordinance, which was passed Tuesday evening, makes it mandatory for animal owners to not only microchip, but spay or neuter their pet as well. But that's riling up animal owners all across Southern California.

"I think when you start getting into mandatory anything, you start looking at Big Brother, and that's how a lot of them see it," said Susan Sholar, who opposes the ordinance.

Susan Sholar is from San Diego. She wonders how the government can force her to spay or neuter her pet.

Scores of animal breeders, who by nature can't spay or neuter many pets, showed up at the meeting to voice their disapproval.

"You're intruding on somebody's recreation, which they've been doing for years. This has been part of America since the Founding Fathers were dog fanciers," said Matt Gage, who opposes the ordinance.

But supporters says the ordinance applies to irresponsible dog owners. It applies to people who are habitually busted by Animal Control for letting their animals run around the neighborhood.

So in theory, breeders and responsible pet owners would have nothing to worry about.

"Your dog has to be out of control, doing something wrong, picked up for some violation, before any of this comes into play. We have thousands of dogs running around loose, and those are the ones the ordinance is targeting -- not these guys," said Biggi.

County animal shelters charge $25 for spaying or neutering a cat and $50 per dog. Costs vary at private veterinary clinics.


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