High stakes: New spay-neuter law in Las Vegas


Las Vegas gambles on a new spay/neuter law.

Las Vegas — Las Vegas residents will have to pay hefty fines if they don't have their pets spayed or neutered.

In fact, Las Vegas City Council approved an ordinance to mandate spay and neutering of all cats and dogs by the age of 4 months. The decision was reached after hours of deliberation Nov. 18.

Some questions arose, officials report, on the effectiveness of mandatory sterlization programs, and whether or not 4 months of age was too young to require spay/neuter procedures. The measure passed 5-2 and will take effect April 1.

Exceptions are included for animals medically unfit to undergo the operation or for specially trained service animals. Breeders will need to apply for permits to qualify for an exemption, but violators will face misdemeanor charges and a $225 first-time offense fine. Fines for the second and third offenses run $500 and $1,000, respectively. Owners who can show proof of sterilization within 30 days of an offense can get their fines reduced by 80 percent, according to the legislation.

A portion of the fines collected through enforcement of the new law will help provide public assistance for pet owners who can't afford spay/neuter surgeries.

The legislation doesn't address whether or not veterinarians will be called on to police or report pet owners with intact animals.

Nevada Veterinary Medical Association (NVMA) Executive Director Michelle Wagner says she wasn't familiar with details of the new law, but adds that the slow economy in Las Vegas and foreclosures have flooded local shelters with homeless pets.

A statewide mandatory spay/neuter law failed more than once in California. Cities like New Orleans and Chicago have considered, but never passed, similar laws.

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