MEMPHIS, Tenn. -- The Memphis City Council has approved a mandatory spay-neuter program for dogs and cats.
The ordinance adopted Tuesday will exempt some animals, including service dogs and animals used by law enforcement. The Commercial Appeal reported that owners of fertile animals can buy a one-time $200 permit.
There's also an exemption if a veterinarian finds spaying would harm a pet, and for animals registered with an approved organization like the American Kennel Club or the Cat Fancier Association.
Violators of the new ordinance would be cited only in combination with another violation.
A provision requiring fencing was removed over cost concerns. About 16,000 dogs and cats are euthanized annually in Memphis.
Nearly 100 people, split evenly among those for and against the sterilization law, attended the council meeting.
"If you enforce the leash law, then the leash law will take animals off the street, reduce complaint calls and we'll end up with less animals at the shelter," said Donna Malone of Responsible Animal Owners of Tennessee, in opposition to the law.
Ordinance supporters argued that with about 16,000 animals euthanized in Memphis each year, the ordinance is a progressive solution to the problem.
"A considerably more effective and humane approach to those thousands of unwanted pets is to enact effective spay/neuter programing ... through a combination of education, legislation and the availability of surgical procedures," said Dr. Robert Egerman, president of the board of directors of the Humane Society of Memphis & Shelby County.
Information from: The Commercial Appeal, http://www.commercialappeal.com