Pixel Tracker

Wednesday, January 23 , 2019, 12:00 am | Fair 44º


Supervisors Adopt Ordinance Requiring Owners to Spay/Neuter Pets

The law applies only to unincorporated areas of the county, and veterinarians can grant exemptions

In response to shelters packed with animals waiting to be adopted, the Santa Barbara County Board of Supervisors adopted an ordinance last week making it mandatory for all pet owners to spay or neuter their cats and dogs, save only those who seek a certificate from their veterinarians.

After hours of public comment on the issue from animal-control workers, shelter volunteers and pet-loving members of the public, the board voted 3-1 to approved the ordinance, with Supervisor Joe Centeno dissenting and Supervisor Joni Gray absent.

The ordinance applies only to the unincorporated areas of the county. Dog or cat owners could leave their pets intact with a veterinary certificate to allow purchase of an unaltered animal license, and all other owners would be required to have their dog or cat spayed or neutered.

The ordinance will take effect at the first of the year, and a $10 fee for each unaltered animal license will be charged to the owner. Owners will have a six-month grace period to license animals, then could face a $250 fine.

The county also implemented the Responsible Pet Owner Pilot Program, which would use one-time monies to expand temporary staffing in Animal Services for outreach and education about licensing. No costs would be passed on to the cities that contract with the county for services.

Last May, the Public Health Department came to the board with a report on the status of a local ordinance and asked for guidance.

The board voted to create a task force to look into the issue, and it returned to the board with draft language for an ordinance. The task force began last September and held meetings in Santa Barbara, Santa Maria and Buellton, and met 15 times.

After public comment, all three south county supervisors were supportive of the ordinance.

“I don’t think any of us wants to impose rules and regulations on our citizens unless there’s a health and safety issue,” Second District Supervisor Janet Wolf said. “I am absolutely convinced that this ordinance is a good thing.”

The comments became impassioned when Centeno talked about his dog that he hadn’t had altered, but that he’s never been an irresponsible pet owner.

“When somebody tells me I have to do something with my pet, philosophically, I don’t agree that I should have to do that,” he said.

He called the ordinance “punitive” on responsible pet owners. “My pet has never been to the shelter or run loose and never, ever been a burden to the county,” he said. “It’s not that I don’t empathize with people working in the shelters. ... I don’t think we’re going to get the result we want with this ordinance.”

First District Supervisor Salud Carbajal took issue with Centeno’s comments.

“I had hoped that what was before us was a compromise,” he said. “I do feel that the exemption certificate doesn’t make this as mandatory and some individuals think.”

He said he understood Centeno’s consternation with the $10 surcharge, but that the ordinance did allow for people to keep their pets intact.

Click here for more information on spaying and neutering as well as animal adoptions.

Noozhawk staff writer Lara Cooper can be reached at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address).

Support Noozhawk Today

You are an important ally in our mission to deliver clear, objective, high-quality professional news reporting for Santa Barbara, Goleta and the rest of Santa Barbara County. Join the Hawks Club today to help keep Noozhawk soaring.

We offer four membership levels: $5 a month, $10 a month, $25 a month or $1 a week. Payments can be made using a credit card, Apple Pay or Google Pay, or click here for information on recurring credit-card payments and a mailing address for checks.

Thank you for your vital support.

Become a Noozhawk Supporter

First name
Last name
Select your monthly membership
Or choose an annual membership

Payment Information

Membership Subscription

You are enrolling in . Thank you for joining the Hawks Club.

Payment Method

Pay by Credit Card:

Mastercard, Visa, American Express, Discover
One click only, please!

Pay with Apple Pay or Google Pay:

Noozhawk partners with Stripe to provide secure invoicing and payments processing.
You may cancel your membership at any time by sending an email to .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address).

  • Ask
  • Vote
  • Investigate
  • Answer

Noozhawk Asks: What’s Your Question?

Welcome to Noozhawk Asks, a new feature in which you ask the questions, you help decide what Noozhawk investigates, and you work with us to find the answers.

Here’s how it works: You share your questions with us in the nearby box. In some cases, we may work with you to find the answers. In others, we may ask you to vote on your top choices to help us narrow the scope. And we’ll be regularly asking you for your feedback on a specific issue or topic.

We also expect to work together with the reader who asked the winning questions to find the answer together. Noozhawk’s objective is to come at questions from a place of curiosity and openness, and we believe a transparent collaboration is the key to achieve it.

The results of our investigation will be published here in this Noozhawk Asks section. Once or twice a month, we plan to do a review of what was asked and answered.

Thanks for asking!

Click Here to Get Started >

Reader Comments

Noozhawk is no longer accepting reader comments on our articles. Click here for the announcement. Readers are instead invited to submit letters to the editor by emailing them to [email protected]. Please provide your full name and community, as well as contact information for verification purposes only.

Daily Noozhawk

Subscribe to Noozhawk's A.M. Report, our free e-Bulletin sent out every day at 4:15 a.m. with Noozhawk's top stories, hand-picked by the editors.

Sign Up Now >