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Cary studies requiring sterilization of all pets

Councilors say staffers are researching whether a spay-and-neuter ordinance could help lower the population of stray pets and feral animals.

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CARY, N.C. — Cary councilors are taking a look at curtailing dog and cat  reproduction in order to curb what some describe as an out-of-control stray pet population.

Town officials are studying the idea of requiring all pet owners to have their dogs and cats spayed or neutered.

"What we're trying to think through in Cary is, does it make sense to have an ordinance of spaying and neutering pets?" Councilman Erv Portman said.

Portman said he hopes such a spay-and-neuter ordinance would cut down significantly on the stray and feral animal population.

"The result is a significant percentage don't get adopted, and they're euthanized," Portman said.

More than 9,000 unadopted cats and dogs are euthanized each year in Wake County – or 30 a day, according the Wake County Animal Shelter and the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals of Wake County.

SPCA officials expressed support for the idea, pointing out that it could save taxpayer money. The county spends millions each year to round up, shelter and euthanize animals.

"Even if you don't care about animals, I bet you care about your wallet, and sterilizing companion animals makes sense tax-dollar-wise," Mondy Lamb, with the SPCA of Wake County, said.

Cary will take a look at spay-and-neutering ordinances from Asheville and Buncombe County, North Carolina's only two local governments to have such a rule. The ordinances are enforced through pet registration, and owners must pay a $100 fee for a permit to keep their pets unaltered.

Nationally, communities in 15 states have such rules.

Portman said he understands a spay-and-neuter ordinance could strike some pet owners as infringing upon their rights.

He emphasized that town staff were researching precisely what such a rule would entail and said that the Town Council will hold a public hearing before it moves forward on any proposals.

"The trade-off is that we don't want to be overly demanding on citizens in terms of telling them what they can do with their pets," Portman said. "But on the other hand, we have a huge problem."


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