Henderson adopts mandatory sterilization rules for cats and dogs

After a public debate about private parts on Tuesday, Henderson City Council members adopted a new ordinance requiring dogs and cats older than 4 months to be sterilized.

The vote came after more than an hour of discussion and public input.

Henderson residents will have 120 days to get their animals spayed or neutered.

The ordinance applies to pet owners and anyone providing "nourishment to a stray or feral cat or dog." It does not apply to licensed breeders and shelters or in cases where a veterinarian has declared an animal medically unfit for sterilization.

Dr. Gary Weddle, administrator for Henderson's animal shelter, said the goal is simple: Reduce the number of strays and other unwanted pets that wind up at local shelters and, in far too many cases, end up dead.

"You can't shelter your way out of this problem. You have to nip it in the bud," he said.

In adopting mandatory sterilization rules, Henderson joins Las Vegas, North Las Vegas, Mesquite and unincorporated Clark County, all of which have enacted similar ordinances in the past two years.

Before Tuesday's vote, the council heard from a divided crowd of about 40 people.

Backers of the ordinance called it a necessary step to help curb crowding and euthanasia at shelters.

Those opposed said they object to being told what to do with their pets and worry what might happen to people who cannot afford to comply.

Violation of the ordinance is a misdemeanor, but Weddle said the city has no plans to aggressively enforce it. Instead, he described it as a "tool" to reduce irresponsible breeding.

As for the cost issue, he said the city would refer people to one of several low-cost spay or neuter clinics that operate in the valley.

Contact reporter Henry Brean at hbrean@reviewjournal.com or 702-383-0350.