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SOUTHERN CALIFORNIA / A news summary

Spaying Up at Clinics as License Deadline Nears

August 29, 2000

LOS ANGELES — A crackdown on pet parenthood is boosting business at some local veterinary clinics, more than two months before a tough new ordinance takes effect.

Starting Nov. 15, the city of Los Angeles will drastically increase licensing fees and other charges for unsterilized dogs and cats.

At Valley Animal Hospital in Van Nuys, Dr. James Haubert said spaying and neutering is up 10% to 20% since the City Council approved the fee hikes in March. Haubert said he and his partner are now sterilizing between 25 and 50 pets a day.

Other pet clinics are seeing modest increases in sterilizations. At the Winnetka Animal Clinic, such surgeries are up 5% to 10%, Dr. Richard Smollin said.

Some other veterinarians said they had not seen an increase in business but expect more pet owners to come in once the ordinance takes effect.

The new law maintains the $10 annual license fee for sterilized dogs but boosts the fee for unsterilized dogs from $30 to $100. It creates a separate $100 charge for owners of dogs and cats that have litters, and requires that unsterilized cats be kept indoors or risk a $500 fine.

Considered the toughest spay-and-neuter ordinance in the nation, the law is an attempt to tame an overpopulation problem so severe that last year 47,000 animals, three-fourths of all strays brought to city shelters, were killed there. The city Department of Animal Services estimates that more than 1 million cats and 26,000 dogs roam the city streets.

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