Massachusetts Animal Coalition (MAC) Statement on Pre-Adoption Sterilization
The Massachusetts Animal Coalition urges all Massachusetts shelters, rescues and animal control programs to work towards the goal of a 100% pre-adoption sterilization rate. One hundred percent pre-adoption sterilization is the only way to ensure that these entities that are working to end pet overpopulation and homelessness are not contributing to the very problem they seek to solve.
More than 20 years ago, Massachusetts passed a statute that allows for a deposit (ranging from $10-$30) to be taken by an animal shelter or control facility upon adoption, with the goal that the adopter will then get the animal spayed or neutered to reclaim this deposit. While this statute was a smart move for the state at the time, the law is now outdated, doesn’t contain an enforcement mechanism and is quite simply not the most effective way to ensure that all animals leaving shelters, rescues and animal control facilities are spayed or neutered.
Data shows that these types of deposit laws are not as effective as pre-adoption sterilization. For example, California now has a mandatory pre-adoption sterilization law for counties with over 100,000 residents. This law took effect 12 years after the state’s deposit law. In the first five years after this change in law, (2000-2005), total dog and cat intake rates in the six largest counties with complete animal control data dropped by 10%.
Since the 1980s, when the Massachusetts deposit law was considered a novel approach, knowledge about early spay/neuter has increased and the practice is now widely accepted. Most organizations in Massachusetts have now recognized that the cost of losing track of intact adopted animals is simply too high and that the follow-up to ensure post-adoption sterilization is just too time-consuming.
Organizations looking for assistance with reaching this goal can:
• Connect with veterinarians who will conduct early spay/neuter or train the organization’s current veterinarian on this surgery.
• Learn from other organizations that have implemented this change.
MAC will assist organizations looking to adopt such a policy by facilitating connections between Massachusetts veterinarians and organizations.