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Do You Have to Get your Dog or Cat Sterilized in California?

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For many of us, our dogs/cats are an important part of our family. We can’t imagine life without them. What you might not know is that if own a dog or cat in California, there are some spay/neuter rules you should be aware of.

At some point, California lawmakers, many of whom are pet lovers like yourself, realized that there was a massive problem with overpopulation. Local rescues were overwhelmed by the sheer number of dogs and cats they had to deal with. This realization prompted the lawmakers to pass some of the strictest spay/neuter laws in the country.

The good news is that if your pet is already sterilized, you don’t have to worry about California’s spay/neuter laws. The only people who have to be aware of the laws and the potential consequences are the ones who are opposed to sterilizing their pets. The longer you go without having your pet sterilized, the greater the odds becomes that you’ll get caught. This is especially true if you have an intact male dog that you frequently take on public walks.

In California, any dog or cat that goes through an animal rescue must be sterilized. For most shelters, this law isn’t an issue since most already had spay/neuter programs listed in their contracts. Even pets who are adopted when they are still too young to be sterilized, are required to eventually be sterilized. If the new owners can’t provide proof that they have had the surgery done in a reasonable amount of time, there will be consequences.

Failing to have your pet neutered could result in you facing a heavy fine. Los Angeles has the sharpest penalties when it comes to violators of the local spay/neuter laws. The first time a Los Angeles pet owner is convicted of failing to get their dog sterilized, they can be fined $100 and required to serve 8 hours of community service. The next time they are convicted of the same offense the fine increases to $500 and you could be required to complete 40 hours of community service.

If you plan on breeding dogs or cats in California, you’ll have to apply for permission to let your animals remain intact.