The Goleta City Council on Tuesday voted 4-1 to institute a spay/neuter ordinance requiring pet owners to purchase a license if their pet is not fixed.

This Goleta ordinance largely mirrors the countywide version adopted in 2009, with a few slight changes in wording. Under the new ordinance, pet owners can only obtain an Unaltered Animal License with an approval from their veterinarian, and pet owners that have been convicted in California of crimes against animals and/or domestic violence are prohibited from obtaining the license. Owners whose pets have been impounded or cited three or more times in a year are also prohibited.

Lisa Reed, a volunteer for DAWG, strongly advocated for the ordinance. “Owners currently have little incentive to get their dogs spayed or neutered,” she said. “They may be convinced to change.”

While he largely agreed with the overall goal of the ordinance, Councilmember Roger Aceves didn’t care for what he perceived to be a lack of specificity. “If I was convicted of a domestic violence case, I can possess an altered dog, but not an unaltered dog?” he asked. “Please tell me what the difference is. It doesn’t make sense to me.”

Councilmember Aceves also took issue with the limiting of the conviction to just California, wondering how the ordinance would apply to pet owners who may have been convicted of animal abuse and/or domestic abuse in other states. “Why just convicted in California?” he asked. “Since we’re not doing background checks, I’m concerned.”

Still, Angela Rockwell, who works for Animal Shelter Assistance Program (ASAP), believed that the ordinance would go a long way toward solving the pet overpopulation problem. Speaking of her experience working for ASAP, Rockwell voiced her support for the licensing requirement. Some pet owners, she said, aren’t willing to listen. “Despite our best efforts at doing outreach, they are persistently uninterested in being educated,” she said. “They have different viewpoints, or they just don’t want their animals altered. We desperately need this tool.”


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