SOMETHING THAT WORKS IN LOS ANGELES
From ANIMAL PEOPLE, July/August 2000:
It has been my experience
as a director for three major
humane societies and animal control
agencies over the past 35 years
that there are two basic approaches
to animal welfare: you can attempt
to compel compliance through
punitive measures, or you can
encourage compliance by creating
I have found that incentives
work better than punishment,
although the punishment option
needs to be available because some
pet owners simply will not comply
with the most basic animal care
laws unless they are forced to do so.
I don’t think that raising
license fees for unaltered pets is
going to increase compliance or
measurably boost spaying and neutering
rates, either in the Los
Angeles area or anywhere else.
Indeed, since it generally
costs more to spay or neuter larger
dogs, the owners of such pets avoid
having sterilization surgery performed,
and tend to obtain their
dogs via “free to good home” newspaper
ads, where the issue of sterilization
never comes up.
While the City of Los
Angeles has recently focused on
strengthening animal licensing
laws, as discussed in the May ANIMAL
PEOPLE editorial, “Selfdefeat
in Los Angeles,” Los
Angeles County went another way.
We sought the help of a
number of private nonprofit animal
welfare groups, including the
Animal Care foundation, the Ark
Trust, Mercy Crusade, the Mary
Jo & Hank Greenberg Animal
Welfare foundation, Friends of the
Agoura Animal Shelter, and several
cities in the Los Angeles area.
Together we worked out a
plan where these groups would
raise money to pay the spaying or
neutering cost for every dog or cat
adopted from a Los Angeles
County animal shelter, and in
return, we would cut our adoption
fee to a flat $27, regardless of the
size, age, or gender of the animal.
The goal of the plan––and
its name, Save 2000––was to
increase shelter pet placements by
at least 2,000 dogs and cats during
the year 2000. From February,
when Save 2000 began, through
May 31, we adopted out an additional
1,854 dogs and cats, increasing
dog placements by 46% and cat
placements by 42%. Each animal
was altered before being placed.
As of June 14, we had
apparently already exceeded our
annual goal, and could more than
double it by the end of the year.
Our success depends
upon continued public financial
support. The nonprofit agencies we
are working with are actively doing
the necessary fundraising.
Save 2000 demonstrates
that compliance with spay/neuter
requirements and public support are
not mutually exclusive goals.
Animal control agencies just have
to be more creative and imaginative
in their approach.
While the ability to punish
those who refuse to comply
must remain an option, the vast
majority of pet owners are responsible,
and welcome programs that
encourage them to do the right
thing, rather than threatening them
with punishment if they don’t.
––Frank R. Andrews
County of Los Angeles Animal
Care & Control
11258 S. Garfield Ave.
Downey, CA 90242