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Animal Advocates of Arizona (AAAZ) Message Board › New AZ Law Aims to Reduce Pet Shelter Numbers

New AZ Law Aims to Reduce Pet Shelter Numbers

Group Organizer
Phoenix, AZ
Post #: 326
August 30, 2009 news article
Christine Rogel
Cronkite News Service

A state law taking effect Sept. 30 sets conditions under which shelters may sterilize and implant microchips on impounded dogs and cats before they are released to owners.

The goal: reducing the number of unwanted animals.

"Every animal that is spayed or neutered is tens of animals less on the street," said Aprille Hollis, spokeswoman for Maricopa County Animal Care and Control, which pushed for the change.

The measure, sponsored by Rep. Steve Court, R-Mesa, gives shelters the right to spay or neuter unlicensed dogs or cats without the owners' permission provided they first hold the animals for three days and make reasonable efforts to locate owners. Those who retrieve their animals in time will have the option of paying $50 on top of any other fees to have them released without sterilization or microchips.

The law also requires shelters to hold licensed animals for at least five days before they are put up for adoption. Current law requires shelters to hold any animal for at least three days.

Hollis said one reason for the law is that stray dogs are likely to return to the streets after owners claim them.

"Dogs are escape artists. If they find a way out, they will try again," she said.

To help encourage owners to spay or neuter pets, Hollis' agency absorbs the cost of the procedures and charges $25 to implant a microchip. However, the law says owners are responsible for the cost of sterilization and microchips.

Maria Felix, veterinary technician at the Santa Cruz Humane Society in Nogales, said she didn't know how much of an impact the law would have there because owners rarely come to claim dogs or cats.

"It happens twice a year, and if it happens and if we have spayed or neutered the pet, owners are OK with it," Felix said.

The bill also applies to unvaccinated dogs impounded for biting people, adding an exemption for situations in which the bite occurs at the owner's home and involves a resident of that home.

Rep. John Kavanagh, R-Fountain Hills, said he voted against the bill over that provision, saying sterilization and microchips have nothing to do with dog bites or rabies. He called the language of that section poorly written and nonsensical.


Note: A special thank-you goes out to Representative Court for introducing this bill (HB2458). The legislation passed both chambers by the wide margins of 18 to 9 in the Senate and 31 to 9 in the House.

See how your legislator voted on this bill by clicking the following links:
Senate Votes
House Votes.

If you would like to look into who your two state Representatives and one state Senator are, click here.

Thank you to Kari Nienstedt for these important links.

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