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AKC Sounds Alarm On Mandatory Sterilization Of Pets In Northwest GA County

Floyd County BOC looking to address overcrowding animal problem by requiring mandatory spaying and neutering.

Brad Gill | October 9, 2023

A new Floyd County ordinance to be discussed and possibly voted on Oct. 10 would require pets to be spayed or neutered.

UPDATE, 2:30 p.m.: Floyd County Commissioner Chair Allison Watters said definition of “Working Dog” in proposed spay/neuter mandate will include hunting and sent the following language.

Working Dog: Animals deemed to be “Working Dogs” are defined as: a dog suitable by size, breeding, or training for useful work (such as draft, herding, show, sporting and hunting) especially as distinguished from one suitable primarily for a pet; and is trained for and employed in meaningful work. The requirements for this definition are not met by the animal simply possessing common canine traits or characteristics.

Original Story: An answer to an overpopulation of animals in a northwest Georgia county seems to be requiring pet owners, even the responsible ones, to spay or neuter their pets. The American Kennel Club (AKC) reports that government control could become a reality for Floyd County pet owners by tomorrow, Oct. 10, 2023, if interested pet owners don’t take action now.

The message from AKC: “URGENT: Please share this information with dog owners, breeders, conformation and event participants, sportsmen, and hunters in Floyd County, Georgia.”

At the Sept. 26, 2023 Floyd County Board of Commissioners meeting, the board had their first reading to “Adopt an ordinance to amend Article 2-5 of the Floyd County Ordinances titled ‘Animal and Fowl.’” The second reading takes places tomorrow morning, Oct. 10 at 9:30 a.m.

A number of other organizations have spoken out against mandatory sterilization. In a release from AKC, they stated, “The only exemptions to mandatory spay/neuter in the proposed ordinance are for:  1) dogs documented by a veterinarian to be currently unable to be safely altered due to health concerns; 2) dogs owned by persons licensed as Georgia Pet Dealers though the Georgia Department of Agriculture and kept for the purposes of Commercial Breeding; and 3) Working Dogs.  ‘Working Dog’ would be defined as a dog kept for useful work such as draft or herding.  A dog kept for pet, show, or sporting purposes would NOT be defined as a Working Dog and would be subject to mandatory spay/neuter.”

GON reached out through email to the five Board of Commissioners at 9:45 on Monday morning, Oct. 9 for a comment, but as of 11:45 a.m. had not received a reply back. We called the BOC number 706.291.5111 that is listed for all five commissioners and were told that email was the best way to communicate with them. Note: See update above.

During the First Reading of “Animal and Fowl” on Sept. 26, Cyndy Douan with the International Association of Canine Professionals spoke out against the commissioner’s plans. She stated, “I provide the position statements from National Animal Interest Alliance, the American Kennel Club, the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals  and the American Veterinary Medical Association, all who oppose mandatory sterilization. As co-founder of the International Association of Canine Professionals, I speak for my organization’s position opposing mandatory sterilization. The county will not listen to all these expert professional organizations who advocate for the best interest of domestic animals using data, science and evidence of the failures of these mandatory sterilization policies in other areas. They march forward with their plans for controlling us and controlling our future completely undaunted.”

The AKC urges those in Floyd County to contact the BOC, asking them to “politely ask them to vote no on the proposed animal ordinance. Ask them to instead work with the American Kennel Club (AKC), the Georgia Canine Coalition and knowledgeable dog owners to develop fair and effective solutions that do not penalize responsible owners; do not increase the number of shelter intakes, stray dogs, and homeless pets; and do not create public safety risks.”

Contacts for the Floyd County BOC are as follows:

Allison Watters, Chair, Post Three, [email protected]
Larry Maxey, Vice-Chair, Post Four, [email protected]
Rhonda Wallace, Post One, [email protected]
Wright Bagby, Post Two, [email protected]
Scotty Hancock, Post Five, [email protected]

AKC urges Floyd County residents to attend the Board of County Commissioners meeting on Tuesday, October 10, 2023, at 9:30 a.m. and speak in opposition to the proposed ordinance. Only a total of 10 minutes will be allotted for all the speakers who oppose the ordinance, so arrive early and be prepared to speak briefly. The Board of Commissioners meeting is preceded by a Caucus meeting at 8:30 a.m., which is also open to the public.

Board Meeting: 10/10/23, 9:30 a.m., County Administration Building, 12 East 4th Avenue, Rome, GA, in the Community Room (Suite 206).

Caucus Meeting: 10/10/23, 8:30am, same location, in in the Caucus Room (Suite 204).

AKC Talking Points & Resources:

The AKC offers the following talking points and resources below

• Mandatory spay/neuter laws are sometimes proposed as a hasty or “feel-good” solution in response to animal control concerns in the community. Proponents of these laws incorrectly believe that mandatory spay/neuter laws will reduce the numbers of animals at the local shelter and reduce the number of stray animals roaming in neighborhoods. However, these laws have not proved to be an effective solution to animal control issues, and often result in increased rather than decreased numbers of homeless and surrendered dogs and cats.

• Mandatory spay/neuter laws are burdensome to low-income pet owners. Owners who are financially unable to comply with the demands of the law may be forced to relinquish or abandon their pets, thereby increasing shelter turn-ins and stray dog populations.

• Such laws also punish responsible owners who choose to keep their dogs intact for conformation competition, field trials, hunting, responsible breeding programs, and similar purposes. The proposed law SPECIFICALLY states that dogs kept for pet, show, or sporting use are not exempted from the mandatory spay/neuter requirement.

• Emerging scientific studies demonstrate that spaying/neutering, particularly before a dog is fully mature, can cause detrimental long-term health impacts. In light of this information, the American Kennel Club (AKC) encourages dog owners to consult with their veterinarians on the appropriateness and timing of spaying or neutering the individual dog.

• Prominent animal organizations concur that mandatory spay/neuter for owned dogs is not recommended. The American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) supports elective spay/neuter rather than mandated surgery. The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animal (APSCA) does not support laws that mandate spay/neuter of all owned animals within a community and cites information on the negative effects of these laws. The Georgia Canine Coalition opposes such laws. AKC opposes laws that mandate the spaying/neutering of dogs. AKC further notes that spaying/neutering are major surgeries and the decision to spay or neuter a dog should be made by the dog’s owner in conjunction with their veterinarian.

• Mandatory spay/neuter laws are very difficult to enforce, and can result in public health concerns when owners avoid routine veterinary appointments, including rabies vaccines, to hide their lack of compliance.

• A requirement that would exempt dogs owned by a pet dealer licensed by the Georgia Department of Agriculture would wrongfully require dog owners who are not subject to this type of state licensure to seek licensing in order to legally own non-breeding intact dogs in Floyd County. This is burdensome to both county dog owners and the state Department of Agriculture.

• Rather than a mandatory spay/neuter law, lawmakers should instead focus on increased enforcement of leash laws, fully funding low-cost spay/neuter programs, and public education programs to promote responsible dog ownership.

AKC offers more information and talking points:

Why Mandatory Spay/Neuter Laws are Ineffective – informational flyer

Health Risks Associated with Spay/Neuter – article with links to 55 scientific studies

• Visit the Key Issues: Mandatory/Spay Neuter page in the AKC Legislative Action Center,

For additional information, contact AKC Government Relations at [email protected].

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