Model Laws

Animal Population Control Model Law


Read Commentary


Sec. 1. Definitions

For the purposes of this act:

  • "Adoption" means the act of an animal shelter, privately owned animal rescue or animal welfare organization, or adoption clinic delivering a companion animal to a private individual whether for valuable consideration or otherwise.
  • "Companion Animal" means any dog or cat other than a feral dog or feral cat that lives within a household.
  • "Feral Cat" means a free-roaming cat with a temperament that is unsocialized and unable to exist as a companion animal.
  • "Microchipping" means a veterinary process by which a microchip is injected into an owned companion animal for purposes of identification.
  • "Owner" means any person, firm, corporation, or partnership keeping or harboring a dog, cat, or other animal.
  • "Neuter" means to sterilize a male dog or cat by removing the testicles.
  • "Spay" means to sterilize a female dog or cat by removing the ovaries
  • Trap Neuter Return ("TNR") means a program where feral cats are humanely trapped, vaccinated, neutered or spayed, and returned to the area of capture.


Sec. 2. Licenses and Fees

(a) For the purposes of this section, "owner" shall not include:

  1. A licensed veterinary hospital;
  2. A licensed pet shop; and
  3. An incorporated animal welfare agency not engaged in the sale of animals.

(b) An owner who has a dog or cat over the age of 6 months shall before January 1st of each year, or within 10 days of acquiring the dog or cat, or within 10 days after the dog or cat becomes 6 months old, obtain an annual license.


(c) Before any annual license may be issued, the owner of the dog shall have the dog vaccinated for rabies, distemper, and parvovirus.


(d) Before any annual license may be issued, the owner of the cat shall have the cat vaccinated for Rabies. Before the first annual license is given the owner of the cat shall have the cat vaccinated for Panleukopenia Virus.


(3) The legislature shall designate a particular agency responsible for collecting the fees and issuing the license. The agency shall promulgate regulations permitting veterinarians to collect fees and issue licenses. The regulations shall permit veterinarians to collect an additional $2 for each license as reimbursement for administrative costs.


(f) The annual license fee for dogs and cats is as follows:

  1. No fee for a dog trained to aid the deaf or blind and actually used for that purpose;
  2. $5 for a male dog or cat certified by a licensed veterinarian as either neutered or incapable of enduring neutering;
  3. $5 for a female dog or cat certified by a licensed veterinarian as either spayed or incapable of enduring spaying; and
  4. $35 for all other dogs and cats.


Sec. 3. Pre-Adoption Spay/Neuter Mandated

(a) Upon passage of this act it shall be mandatory for all dogs and cats over 6 months of age to be spayed or neutered prior to adoption from any of the following:

  1. an animal shelter;
  2. a private animal welfare or rescue organization; or
  3. any adoption clinic endorsed, sponsored, or operated by an animal welfare or rescue agency, organizations, private parties, commercial enterprises or any combination thereof.

(b) Exceptions to the pre-adoption spay/neuter mandate shall be limited to the following:

  1. A dog or cat which, after a medical examination by an accredited veterinarian, it is determined that undergoing a spay/neuter procedure would endanger its life or health.
  2. A dog or cat under the age of 6 months provided that:
    (a) The adopter shall post a $75.00 deposit;
    (b) In the absence of an exemption, the deposit shall be held by the adopting agency until said deposit is rebated to the adopter after presenting proof that the dog or cat has been spayed or neutered within 5 months of the adoption.


Sec. 4. Animal Population Control Program

There shall be an Animal Population Control Fund ("Fund") established.

  1. Any fines or fees collected under this statute shall be deposited into the Fund and shall be used exclusively to implement the programs described in this statute.
  2. The agency may solicit funds from public or private sources for the operation of the Animal Population Control Program. All such funds must be deposited into the Fund and shall be used exclusively to implement the programs described in this statute.

(b) Low Cost Spay Neuter Program. The legislature shall establish a program in which eligible individuals can have their dog or cat spayed or neutered at a "to be determined" discounted price at a participating veterinary clinic. Residents of the state that are on state or federally funded financial assistance programs are eligible to participate in the Program.


(c) Veterinary Participation. Any licensed veterinarian may participate in the Animal Population Control Program.

  1. To participate, the veterinarian shall submit an application including proof of license to practice in the state as well as a list of fees for spaying and neutering.
  2. The veterinarian shall be reimbursed with money from the Fund for 80% of the spay or neuter fee and the fee for the required vaccinations. To be reimbursed the veterinarian must provide a certificate stating that the animal has been altered, signed by both the veterinarian and the dog or cat's owner.

(d) The legislature shall adoption a Trap Neuter Return Program to reduce the number of feral cats and promote supervised care of cat colonies.


(e) Records. The legislature shall keep annual records concerning the program. The records shall include the number of spay/neuter surgeries, the number of rabies vaccinations given pursuant to this act, cat and dog shelter intake statistics, euthanasia statistics, and any other information that may help in determining whether the program is addressing the problem of dog and cat overpopulation.


Sec. 5. Education

The legislature shall establish a program to educate the public on the benefits of spaying or neutering their pet as well as the opportunities available to them and the laws regarding pet licensing and registration. The program shall educate the public in general, but make specific measures to target low-income areas.


Additional Commentary

Companion animal overpopulation, stray animals, feral cats, animal licensing and sheltering are all topics that U.S. taxpayers and animal enthusiasts alike cannot afford to ignore from a fiscal or humane care standpoint. The Humane Society of the United States estimates that between six to eight million animals will be sheltered by state, local or independent shelter operations this year, half of which will be euthanized. Moreover, estimates place the per-animal sheltering cost at approximately $105.00, playing a heavy burden on shelters and tax payers.


The solution to reduce this problem lies in population control through the sterilization of companion animals. The proposed statute seeks a compromise between desire to sterilize pets and imposing a reasonable burden upon pet owners. This statute incorporates language that has already been proven to succeed in reducing the number of animals euthanized in shelters in other states. After implementing a similar program, New Hampshire saw a 77% drop in shelter euthanasia over an eight year period and now has one of the country's lowest euthanasia rates. As a result of the reduced impoundment rate, they saved $3.15 million dollars even with the increased costs of subsidizing low cost spay and neuter programs.


This statute targets low income communities by providing inexpensive methods to spay or neuter and vaccinate their pet as well educational programs that explain the benefits of the procedures. These programs are tailored to target the populations that are statistically less likely to sterilize their pets. The statute also includes veterinarians to ensure that low cost spay and neuter is available in a variety of areas by licensed veterinarians.


In addition to the low cost spay and neuter program, the statute mandates that the legislature create a "Trap-Neuter-Return" program to address the problem of feral cat overpopulation and feline diseases. This program is necessary as it has been demonstrated that capturing and euthanizing feral cats is not an effective measure of population control. A program that promotes the sterilization and return of cats will address the problem of overpopulation while advocating the humane care and veterinary treatment of feral cats that live on the streets.


In all, this comprehensive statute will utilize several means of reaching the same goal, which is to alleviate the burden of pet overpopulation. With the combination of licensing differentials, a population control program, and a TNR program, the state can effectively address the problem of pet overpopulation in a humane manner.



Spay USA,


New Hampshire, HB 425,


Washington DC, DC Code § 6-1004 (2001).


California, 14 § 30503


Best Friends Animal Society, New Hampshire Model Program.


HelpingAnimals.Com, Model Spay and Neuter Ordinances,


American Association of Feline Practitioners, 2006 Feline Vaccination Guidelines,


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