One of the more controversial section of the proposed bill is found in section seven, which creates guidelines for the mandatory spay/neuter of dogs. It reads as follows:
Section 174E. No person shall own or harbor, within the commonwealth, any dog over the age of 12 months which has not been spayed or neutered. A letter from a licensed veterinarian must be given after the procedure as proof that the dog has been spayed or neutered.
It should be pointed out, as misinformation on this point abounds, that the law DOES make some exceptions, as it continues
Exempt from this section are owners and keepers with a valid intact dog permit, competition dogs, assistance and service dogs, or a letter from a licensed veterinarian certifying that the animal should be temporarily or permanently deferred due to health or age. The city or town shall keep a copy of the letter from the licensed veterinarian stating that the dog has been neutered or spayed.
Unlike several of the other sections we have reviewed, this legislation is entirely new and has no predecessor. Legislation of this nature has been implemented in several other states, and has been taken up as a measure to help curb the animal population. Afterall, the animal to human birth ratio is 7 animals to every 1 human. However, results from laws like these around the country have been mixed according to In Defense of Animals “Advocates expect this (s/n laws) to reduce the number of animals euthanized in the state by about 65%” and point to the fact that mandatory spay/neuter policies in rescue shelters have been a major factor in decreasing the unwanted pat population by 200%! You can see some great charts outlining this here However critics say that the new MA law goes to far.
The complaints regarding this part of the bill are coming mostly from breeders, who feel the cost of maintaining their business will be preclusive. Dogs being kept unspayed for breeding purposes are required to have a breeding permit and pay $500 a year for it. Reputable breeders feel that they will be unfairly punished by this law, while unethical back yard breeders will continue with their practices in total disregard to the Spay/Neuter law or the fee system. These professional breeders feel that this legislation will simply push the back yard breeders further underground and dissuade them from seeking professional medical care, which is a regulation point in the new bill. You can read some arguments against this type of bill Here
This section of the bill is and will be one of the most hotly contested. Watch for changes in this language as it gets closer to being passed into law.