W. Marvin Mackie, D.V.M.

To encourage spay/neuter in the City of Los Angeles, the following ordinance went into effect on November 15, 2000:

            •  $100 License Fee for a dog that is not spayed/neutered.
            ·  $10 License Fee for a dog that is spayed/neutered.
            •  All dog owners must obtain a Dog License (all dogs 4 months and older)
·  Cat Owners are to required to keep unaltered cats indoors; altered cats may be outdoors
·  $100 Permit Fee is required to breed a dog/cat for any reason.  (A litter is proof of intent to breed and a $100 permit fee is due)
            •  You have 45 days to comply to notice to renew annual license (if cited for no current dog license or breeder fee); otherwise, you may required to pay a $500 fine.
·  The $500 fine cannot be waived by transferring ownership of the animal. (i.e. sold, given away or run-away)
·  Abandoning your pet is a misdemeanor, which is punishable by six months in jail and a $1,000 fine.


The new City of Los Angeles licensing ordinance (above), combined with the Vincent Bill requiring all public and private shelter animals to be sterilized before adoption (effective January 1, 2000) bring to the forefront the need for more veterinarians to now embrace and perform early-age spay/neuter surgery and the need for pet owners to accept and support the newer recommended ages.  Estimates suggest that over 500,000 cats and dogs are euthanized in California each year simply because they are unwanted.  Government agencies and individuals are joining humane groups in their concern for the number of cats and dogs being killed in animal shelters.   As veterinarians dedicated to animal welfare, we need to utilize every tool available to help combat the problem, including pet sterilization at a much younger age regardless of the ownership source.

Fortunately, now animals being adopted from a public animal control agency or shelter, humane society shelter, or rescue group, shall be sterilized before release to the adoptive owner (per Vincent Assembly Bill 1856, effective January 1, 2000).   All the affected groups just mentioned have found veterinarians who will readily provide the surgery to the adoptive animals regardless of age (seven weeks to senior.)  Unfortunately, national reports indicate that new pet ownership via these sources is only in the range of 10 to 15%; thus, 85 to 90% of our pets are finding their way to homes through other avenues and are rarely sterilized prior to placement.

The new owner of a youthful pet typically goes to the veterinarian for a health check and the beginning of the puppy/kitten wellness and vaccine program.  By including sterilization as a part of a complete wellness program, the veterinarian can make a huge impact on the pet overpopulation problem.   For example, sterilization for dogs can conveniently be scheduled with the rabies vaccination typically given at four months.  One trip to the veterinary office will include the rabies vaccination with certificate and the pet’s sterilization with certificate.  The sterilized dog is then ready to license, at a fee that is at least 50% less (by state law) than the unneutered dog.  As outlined earlier, the City of Los Angeles is at $10 altered compared to $100 unaltered, which is 90% less! For kittens, the surgical appointment can be scheduled with the kitten’s last scheduled vaccine and/or rabies, which usually happens around the age of three to four months. 

Thus scheduled, both the veterinarian and pet owner are confident that all well-animal services, including sterilization, are completed in a timely manner.  Nothing is left to chance or procrastination and the risk of unintended litters is eliminated!  Several telephone surveys have reported that 20% of pets (dog or cat) reported spayed in the household had one or more litters before being spayed.  Owners want to do the right thing but it is all in the timing.   Including sterilization as part of the well-animal services and eliminating the need for an additional office visit will assist these well-meaning owners.

Next month I will review the work done on the subject of early age sterilization.  Just twelve years ago it was revolutionary; now it is state of the art practice. 

Reprint from The Pet Press, Los Angeles, CA.,  Vol.2, Issue 6, March 200l.

Dr. Mackie, the owner/director of two Animal Birth Control clinics in Los Angeles, has been a spay/neuter specialist since 1976 and is nationally recognized for his work in early age sterilization.  He offers an extensive surgical training program and a widely distributed video on his procedure.  E-mail: