Companion animals; owner reclaiming dog or cat from pound to have animal spayed or neutered. (SB1151)

Introduced By

Sen. Ryan McDougle (R-Mechanicsville)


Passed Committee
Passed House
Passed Senate
Signed by Governor
Became Law


Companion animals; releasing agencies. Requires any owner who is reclaiming his dog or cat from a releasing agency, such as a pound or shelter, to have such animal spayed or neutered if the animal has been impounded on a previous occasion. Currently, mandatory sterilization applies only to new owners that adopt a dog or cat from a releasing agency. Amends § 3.2-6574, § 3.2-6578, of the Code of Virginia. Read the Bill »


Bill Has Failed


01/13/2009Prefiled and ordered printed; offered 01/14/09 093102272
01/13/2009Referred to Committee on Agriculture, Conservation and Natural Resources
01/26/2009Failed to report (defeated) in Agriculture, Conservation and Natural Resources (6-Y 8-N 1-A) (see vote tally)


Alice Harrington writes:

Position - OPPOSE SB 1151

This bill is based on several assumptions that are not correct. They are:

1) There is a pet overpopulation problem. Not correct. We have a pet distribution problem. The US imports about 300,000 dogs a year to meet demand. Shelters in many parts of the country, particularly the Northeast, have no animals for adoption so other shelters that have dogs send them to the Northeast. Many people who work in shelters see the worst side of the pet world and consequently they endorse far-reaching solutions that are not necessary.

Let’s take a look at the numbers. The Virginia Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services (VDACS) publishes on-line reports dealing with animals in shelters. It is important to note that these figures include feral animals, those that are brought in by owners specifically for euthanasia due to age or illness, and animals that due to temperament could never be successful pets. Here is what the numbers show:

•Virginia took in 13,265 fewer dogs in 2007 than in 2005.
•Virginia took in 9,730 fewer cats in 2007 than in 2005.
•In 2005, shelters euthanized 35 percent of dogs in shelters; in 2007, 30 percent were euthanized. Dog numbers are dropping in all respects.
•Euthanasia of cats has dropped from 54 percent to 52 percent of intake.

2) Dogs running loose for short periods are breeding. Highly unlikely. A whole lot of things have to happen at the same time for a breeding to occur during a short escape. Female dogs are only in a breedable state once or twice a year. Feral cats are breeding but it is unlikely anyone will show up to claim a feral cat as a pet. Cats that are family pets are usually already spayed or neutered.

Most family pets, dog and cat, are spayed or neutered. Those that are not may belong to people who cannot afford it. These people need education and outreach efforts and access to low-cost clinics. They should not be hit with costs they cannot afford when they come to reclaim a pet. When that happens they usually release the animal to the shelter and it may get euthanized - just what we are trying to avoid. Many communities have tried mandatory spay and neuter laws and find that the shelter intake numbers go up and so do kill rates.

Finally, while most people try very hard to keep their animals safe,- guess what? - life is messy and bad stuff happens. Children leave gates open. Dogs jump fences or dig under them. Dogs escape from cars, become frightened and run away. And it can happen more than once.

This bill should be defeated.