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Spay/neuter law blows into Windy city

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Opposing a proposed law that would mandate spaying or neutering, the Illinois Veterinary Medical Association (IVMA) says it hasn't worked in other cities and would kill an already successful program there.

Chicago — Opposing a proposed law that would mandate spaying or neutering, the Illinois Veterinary Medical Association (IVMA) says it hasn't worked in other cities and would kill an already successful program there.

Chicago's legislation, backed by the Humane Society of the United States (HSUS), PAWS and former television game show host Bob Barker, would require all cats and dogs be spayed or neutered at 6 months of age.

The ordinance is meant to reduce the number of homeless dogs and cats in Chicago and cut down on attacks by aggressive animals. If passed, it would also target dog-fighting rings.

Steve Dullard, chairman of the IVMA legislative committee, argues the bill falls short of penalizing those who don't get their animals fixed and creates an ordinance based on simplistic, non–scientific data.

"Proponents say that 90 percent of dog attacks are caused by intact dogs. What the data actually shows is that three factors contribute to 90 percent of dog attacks — care of the animal and socialization, whether the animal was used as a guard dog and whether it has been spayed or neutered."

Proponents also say 19,000 animals are euthanized in Chicago each year, but Dullard counters that "nothing could be further from the truth. In Chicago, the present system of voluntary, low-cost spay and neuter programs is extremely successful."

Dullard and other opponents fear a mandatory spay and neuter law would discourage people from seeking veterinary care.

Lisa Peterson, American Kennel Club spokesperson, says the proposed legislation attacks breeders and won't curb the overpopulation problem.

"We don't want to see any law like this enacted," she says.

The AKC believes pet-owner education is a better solution.

The legislation is on hold.

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