I was disappointed in The Times' belittling coverage of an ordinance I have proposed in West Hollywood, along with a city task force comprised of noted experts on animal issues, to reduce pet overpopulation in our city (Westside Watch, April 25). Such trivializing of issues relating to animals is not unusual, but it contributes to the difficulty in getting government to take cruelty to animals seriously, and to focus on and eliminate cruel practices.
Between 8 million and 10 million cats and dogs are euthanized each year, with over 70,000 (not 20,000 as reported in the article) being killed in L.A. County alone. This is largely because we have no controls on breeding practices. We simply allow pets to breed, and kill off the surplus. Clearly the more humane (and even more cost-effective) approach is to place some restrictions on breeding practices, and to encourage spaying and neutering.
As part of this ordinance, it was proposed that we license cats as well as dogs, for two reasons--first because it is impossible to track the breeding of cats without a licensing procedure enabling us to know which animals exist in the city, and secondly, because it will make it much easier to identify lost cats and to return them to their owners. Some people may object to the $5 licensing fee, but anyone who is reunited with their lost animal because of the license will feel it was worth many times the cost. We are not even the first to do so; the city of Carson already licenses cats.