City Council member hears debate over mandatory spay/neuter law

By Lori Brown - bio | email

MEMPHIS, TN (WMC-TV) - The debate about a mandatory spay/neuter law took center stage at Memphis City Hall Tuesday night. City Council Member Shea Flinn held the meeting in hopes of finding some middle ground to solve the pet population problem in Memphis.

Flinn says the Memphis Animal Shelter takes in 16,000 dogs and cats a year, and puts down 12,000 of them each year. But the people who say they love animals the most, don't agree on a solution.

"ASPCA is against mandatory spay/neuter, I got a letter from the Humane Society for it," Flinn said.

People who favor a spay/neuter ordinance wore red and outnumbered those against it at the meeting.

"We do not want to abolish breeding or wipe out purebreds," Bryan Mauldin said. "Or prohibit pet ownership. We love our pets, purebreds and mutts."

Opponents of a mandatory spay neuter law say the decision would unfairly burden responsible pet owners while having no impact on irresponsible ones.

"One thing I've heard a couple of times is we're not coming after you," Donna Malone said. "If you're not coming after us, why enforce the law."

"I feel like anytime you have a law that commands that, then you'll have people that wont take their dogs to the vet, because where are you going to get the reporting factor, well this dog isn't neutered, you're going to go to the vets to get that information," Elta Woodliff said.

The meeting ended with the new director of the Memphis Animal Shelter saying he believes a mandatory spay/neuter program can be effective, if combined with education programs.

"It is a community problem that requires a community solution," Matthew Pepper said.

Flinn is now going to go back to the drawing board to come up with a new ordinance to deal with pet population. He says he's no longer sure that the solution is to make altering pets mandatory.

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