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Houston Mayor Discusses Mandatory Spay and Neuter, AKC Urges Clubs to Respond

Houston Mayor Discusses Mandatory Spay and Neuter, AKC Urges Clubs to
Respond By AKC Government Relations
Published: Mar 14, 2024 | 3 Minutes

Recently Houston Mayor John Whitmire stated his belief that “(mandatory spay and neuter) is the ultimate solution to overcrowding and stray animals.” Whitmire further alluded to the development of a mandatory spay/neuter (MSN) ordinance in Houston soon.

While the AKC understands Mayor Whitmire’s desire to address animal welfare issues in and around Harris County we are concerned about the impact of a broadly worded MSN law on responsible dog owners.  The AKC disagrees with his assertion that MSN will address shelter population and at large dog issues in the community as most Texas cities that already adopted MSN policies continue to suffer from shelter overcrowding and stray animal issues.

AKC Government Relations (AKC GR) urges local clubs and residents to contact the mayor and city council and respectfully urge them to not proceed with a mandatory spay/neuter proposal.  If you live in a Texas city with a MSN law please reach out to AKC Government Relations at and let us know how the law is being enforced and discuss how the law is impacting you and your dogs.

What you can do

Please take the time to send an email as an individual and draft a letter from your club to the mayor and to members of the Houston City Council opposing the development of an ordinance that mandates spaying and neutering. Be sure to discuss the steps you and your club members take to ensure that dogs bred and owned by you do not end up in the shelter system. Please also discuss the benefits and importance of local shows and explain how a MSN law may negatively impact your ability to participate in these shows. You can find information on the impact of AKC events HERE.   You may also use this sample letter as a guide when writing to the local officials.

Contact information:

Talking Points

Mandatory Spay/Neuter Laws are Ineffective

Mandatory spay/neuter laws do not reduce shelter populations.  In fact, some shelters have seen an increase as owners choose to relinquish their pets if they are unable to pay the costs associated with sterilization.  Moreover, many national research organizations have reported that the majority of unwanted dogs come from irresponsible owners who are unwilling to train, socialize, or care for their dogs.  Imposing a mandatory spay/neuter law will not resolve the issue of irresponsible ownership.

 Houston already requires the sterilization of animals when leaving  the shelter

Houston already requires most dogs purchased or picked up at the shelter to be sterilized. The only exemptions for this requirement are for dogs with an unsterilized dog license, dogs that are too young for sterilization and for dogs with a note from a veterinarian advising against sterilization for health reasons.

Mandatory Spay/Neuter Laws are Difficult to Enforce

Mandatory spay/neuter laws are extremely difficult to enforce and can be easily evaded by irresponsible animal owners.  In fact, these laws often result in a decrease in the number of dogs licensed, because some individuals choose to not license their animals in order to avoid spaying and neutering their pets.

Mandatory Spay/Neuter Laws Can Harm Dogs

Studies continue to demonstrate that spaying and neutering is not in the best interest of every dog.  In particular, juvenile spay/neuter can lead to incontinence, joint issues, cancer or even a shorter life span.  The choice to sterilize a dog is an important health decision that should be made by owners in conjunction with a veterinarian. The American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA), who also opposes mandatory sterilization, notes that some owners will avoid veterinary care in order to hide their lack of compliance.

Mandatory Spay/Neuter Laws are Expensive for the Community

Mandatory spay/neuter laws greatly increase the workload of animal control officers, many of which are already financially strained.  The laws can also increase shelter populations when pets are relinquished.  Mandatory spay/neuter laws also can mean fewer AKC events, which generate significant economic impact for local communities each year.

Mandatory Spay/Neuter Laws are Unfair to Responsible Dog Owners

Mandatory spay/neuter laws do not address an owner’s level of responsibility or the behavior of their animals.  Owners may keep dogs intact for health, responsible breeding, participation in dog events, hunting, or many other humane reasons.  Responsible owners have a right to use their own discretion in determining whether to sterilize their animals.

AKC Government Relations (GR) will provide updates on MSN discussions in Houston. For more information, contact AKC GR at