Chicago Mandatory Spay/Neuter Ordinance is RACIST, Back-Door BSL

Once again, Virginia “Ginger” Rugai, 19th ward Chicago alderman, is getting behind another unconstitutional piece of legislation (along with Ald. Ed Burke, who we noted in a prior post has been busy deflecting the heat from a Fox Chicago news report about questionable expenses). This time it’s mandatory spay/neuter. Ginger. It’s such a benign spice, but such a caustic politico.

It’s odd too, don’t you think that the Chicago City Council would repeal the foie gras ban, another unconstitutional restriction, on the same day that they proposed a mandatory spay/neuter (MSN) ordinance? On the one hand they recognize that a ban on foie gras is unconstitutional, but an ordinance requiring pet owners to spay/neuter their pets is somehow perfectly legitimate in their eyes.

The mandatory spay/neuter ordinance was supposedly proposed as a result of a woman being attacked by five “pit bulls” last month. It was never determined, at least to my satisfaction, whether the dogs were full-grown or puppies and just exactly what prompted the event. One thing we know for sure, they weren’t “pit bulls.” You see, as we so often say here, “pit bull” is not a breed. It’s a broad characterization that can describe and has described as many as 30 or more actual breeds. And yes, some people refer to their American Pit Bull Terriers as “pit bulls” but then the media refers to every medium- or large-breed dog that attacks as a “pit bull,” which skews statistics like CDC bite stats making it appear as if the “breed” “pit bull” is inherently vicious. People often ask me why I quibble over breed every time there is a dog attack. The answer is obvious: because when the media gets the breed wrong, which they always will if they refer to the dogs in question as “pit bulls,” then bad legislation results.

For instance, you may be wondering why I am talking about “pit bulls” when the ordinance is a mandatory spay/neuter ordinance and not a breed-specific one. Because Ald. Rugai and Ald. Burke, the two aldermen who had the temerity to show their faces as the co-sponsors of this MSN ordinance, as much as said this ordinance is meant to target “pit bulls,” and worse, “pit bull” owners. Burke in particular was quoted in the Sun-Times as saying,

“‘When you drive down the street and see a gang banger with all kinds of gang regalia walking along with two or three pit bulls, it’s pretty simple for the policeman to raise the dog’s tail and see whether or not it’s spayed or neutered. If it’s not, the gang member is in violation,’ Burke said, noting that street gangs operate dog-fighting rings.”

Well, those who fought breed-specific laws always maintained that breed bans were a type of racial profiling. Here we have actual racial profiling using someone’s dog! And Chicago policemen must be thrilled at the prospect of having to go around Chicago neighborhoods looking at canine “junk.” My goodness, of all the sick ways to hassle a potential perp!

According to the Sun-Times,

“Exceptions to the spay and neutering mandate would be granted to those who apply for a breeders license, triggering a criminal background check/’I dont know of too many gang members [who] would be willing to subject themselves to this type of scrutiny,’ Burke said.”

So you see, this mandatory spay/neuter ordinance isn’t about controlling the supposed pet overpopulation problem at all. It’s back-door breed-specific legislation which is being used to target “pit bulls” and even more delectably, their African-American and Latino owners. Criminal background checks simply for acquiring a breeder’s license? And this is supposed to stop people from dog fighting, backyard breeding, and gang banging?

It’s a catch-22 really. On the one hand Chicago, claims to be all liberal and “blue” when it comes to immigrant rights, but ironically, it doesn’t seem to like African-American and Latinos very much as evidenced by Burke’s and others’ comments.

It’s funny too. When we started out six years ago, we used to get e-mails from people laughing at us for saying “crazy” things like that these ordinances were unconstitutional or that they were racist and were used to profile minorities and give them a hard time. Thing is, nobody’s laughing anymore.

The good news is that very few people are complying with these draconian, unconstitutional laws. In the Sun-Times interview with Burke it was noted that cat owners aren’t required to license their cats and dog licensure compliance is a joke. So in other words, dog owners in Chicago do not license their dogs as a common practice, and yet once a mandatory spay/neuter ordinance is passed it is expected that everyone will just magically start spaying/neutering their pets and acquire a license for their dogs? As Nathan Winograd in his recently-released book Redemption: The Myth of Pet Overpopulation and the No Kill Revolution in America noted,

“Studies show the primary reasons people do not sterilize their pets are cost and lack of access to spay/neuter services…The higher the cost, the lower the rate of compliance….Punitive legislation will only discourage people from caring for homeless pets or drive disadvantaged people “underground,” making them even harder to reach and help.” (112)

So those “underground” who already aren’t licensing their pets will continue to stay underground, and added to their ranks will be those who, for whatever reason, will not comply with a mandatory spay/neuter ordinance. Worse, once off the radar, these same people also tend to not comply with other laws like rabies vaccination requirements. And, if concern for pets is really the issue here, which we already know from the horse’s mouth it’s not, then it is not desirable to pass an ordinance that has been proven ineffective and unenforceable in other areas, that drives pet owners underground, and that prevents pets from being taken to the vet and vaccinated.

Mandatory spay/neuter ordinances are proposed as a result of what is erroneously called a “pet overpopulation” problem. This is absolutely false, but I’ll get to that in a minute. Chicago, in particular, could not use pet “overpopulation” as an excuse because according to statistics published in 2006,

“The euthanasia numbers in the Chicago Area are dropping. Between 2003 and 2005 overall citywide euthanasia rates dropped 12% and shelter intake went down to 11%. With an overall shelter killing rate per 1,000 humans at a historic low of 6.9%, Denver remains the only city between the coasts with a lower kill rate (5.9%)” (Chicago Anti Cruelty Society).

So pet “overpopulation” in Chicago in particular is a myth, and yet MSN advocates are pushing the “overpopulation” lie on an unsuspecting Chicago public anyway:

“‘Dogs and cats reproduce exponentially, which means one dog or cat can be responsible for hundreds of puppies or kittens in their lifetime,’ said Paula Fasseas, founder and chair of PAWS Chicago, the citys largest humane organization/’As a result, nearly 20,000 cats and dogs are kiled [sic] each yet in Chicago. This legislation will ensure that pet guardians bear the responsibility for adequately caring for their pets’.

First of all, and as a bit of a digression, we are NOT pet guardians. We are pet OWNERS. Get that through your big, fat heads animal rightists! We OWN our animals to protect them from YOU. Guardianship is just one more way for our property, our dogs, to be removed from us. For those who don’t know, guardianship, in theory, is supposedly a more humane way of looking at our pets not just as property, but as unto our children. And of course you don’t own your children do you? No, you don’t own your children. That’s why it’s so easy for the government to take your kids away. Just ask the guy who took his kid to the ballpark a few weeks ago and accidentally ordered his child a “hard” lemonade instead of the non-alcoholic kind and had his kid taken away from him by Child “Protective” Services as a result. See how easy it is to be labeled an “unfit parent” by a Nanny State hellbent on removing your children, and whatever else, from you?

Second, Winograd explains the type of denial that keeps MSN advocates pushing for mandatory spay/neuter laws even though shelter intake numbers and consequently euthanasia numbers have dramatically gone down:

“While some activists simply do not know better and mean well, others obstinately ignore facts, experience, and history and continue to push these types of laws. They will do what they have always done”facts, logic, and history be damned. They will continue to blame the public and they will continue to fight for more and tougher laws. they will argue that their community is different, that their situation is unique, that citizens in their community are particularly”or peculiarly”irresponsible. None of this is true, but they do not care.” (117)

Indeed, when it is shown to MSN advocates that euthanasia numbers have dropped dramatically as Chicago has adopted more of a ‘No Kill’ stance over the last decade, they will undoubtedly say that one euthanized dog or cat in the city of Chicago is one too many. But why, then, does this country import so many dogs and cats from outside the country every year? According to the National Animal Interest Alliance (NAIA),

“campaigns to end pet overpopulation have been so successful that demand for puppies actually outstrips supply in the United States today. The result is that US pet suppliers, both commercial distributors and animal shelters alike, have turned to foreign sources to fill it. A staggering 300,000 dogs were brought into the US in 2006 alone, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), and that total may not include the significant number of puppies smuggled in through the black market.”

So where is the rational basis for proposing an MSN ordinance in Chicago, or anywhere in America for that matter? And if this ordinance passes and Chicago is sued, how easy will it be to prove that this is a case of racial profiling, which is a civil liberties violation? And no matter what lies they tell you to convince you otherwise, that junk in your pet’s trunk is your property, not the property of the state, not the property of the city councilmen who get paid off by animal rights lobbies to do their bidding, and not the property of animal rightists who want to end all domestic pet ownership and animal agriculture as we know it.

Read more about it:

2008 Chicago Mandatory Spay/Neuter Ordinance

Nathan Winograds Redemption: The Myth of Pet Overpopulation and the No Kill Revolution in America

4 responses to “Chicago Mandatory Spay/Neuter Ordinance is RACIST, Back-Door BSL”

  1. ACLU of Illinois

    Edwin C. Yohnka, Director of Communications of the American Civil Liberties Union of Illinois, +1-312-201-9740, ext. 305, +1-312-851-2832,

    NAACP LEGAL DEFENSE FUND – (mentions attorney names)

    NAACP – IL

    Chicago Far South Side Branch
    Phone: (708)335-9860
    Address: P.O. Box 2224, Homewood, IL 60430-7224 Chicago Northside Branch
    Phone: (773)445-5049
    Address: 9204 Aberdeen South, Chicago, IL 60620 Chicago Southside Branch
    Phone: (773)429-9830
    Address: 10540 S. Western Avenue, Chicago 60643 Chicago Westside Branch
    Phone: (773)261-5890
    Fax: (773)261-5893
    Address: 1140 Noth Lamon Chicago IL 60651

  2. I totally agree! The City council of chicago needs to concetrate on the problems of gangs and stop grandstanding through the passage of wasteful bills. Besides who will enforce this law and how will one check to see if a femal dog has been spayed? It isn’t like you can lift up the tail and see.

    Get to work on the real problems and leave the dog owners alone.

  3. I’m confused why Ald. Rugai hasn’t been harder on enforcing the stray cat population, especially in her own communities of Beverly and Mount Greenwood. They’re all over the place. I’ve been told by both the police and the city’s animal control department that there’s really nothing they can do.

    So a mandatory spay/neuter ordinance might not be such a bad idea, although most of our readers at the Southwest Observer don’t seem to agree.

  4. For the stray cat population there is TNR — trap, neuter, release. These programs have been very successful and are usually undertaken by very caring animal lovers who devote their time, energy, and money to caring for feral cat colonies. No mandatory spay/neuter required.

    Mandatory spay/neuter IS a bad idea because it violates pet owners’ property rights which are protected by the 14th amendment:

    No state shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States; nor shall any State deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws.

    And yes, pet owners own their pets private parts and it is their privilege, meaning right, to choose to spay/neuter their pets, or not, as they see fit without all the excessive and needless governmental nannying.

    Chicago euth numbers have been steadily going down over the last decade as Chicago has adopted a more ‘No Kill’ stance. As such, there is no need for this ordinance as the problem is taking care of itself. Ask yourself too why if there is a supposed overpopulation problem, this country imports so many thousands upon thousands of dogs/cats each year from Mexico, the Caribbean, and China to name a few.

    A majority of pet owners already spay/neuter their pets on their own thanks to the success of low-cost spay/neuter and community education programs. Why, then, should Chicago alienate the public and drive them underground with ineffective and unenforceable legislation when the programs already in place have proven so effective?

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