Los Angeles County Department of Animal Care and Control

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Spay & Neuter


Unsterilized dogs and cats create unplanned litters and there are not enough available homes to absorb this surplus.  The County of Los Angeles Department of Animal Care and Control is overwhelmed with unwanted animals, receiving approximately 90,000 animals each year!  Despite strong efforts to place these pets into new homes and reunite lost pets with their owners, there are still not enough adoptive homes available.  It is imperative that we reduce the number of animals flooding our animal care centers, and the best way to do that is ensure all pets are spayed or neutered.

Spaying and neutering presents many health benefits for pets.  Certain types of cancers are eliminated by spaying or neutering.  Sterilized animals are less likely to roam and therefore less likely to be lost, hit by a car, injured in a fight, or abused.

Stray dogs are public safety hazards and unsterilized dogs are more likely to stray. Stray dogs can bite or attack people or other animals, cause traffic accidents, spread disease, damage property, and harm the quality of life for residents in a community.

Unneutered male dogs search for mates and are attracted in packs when female dogs come into heat.  One female in heat, even if confined, can make an entire neighborhood unstable by attracting packs of male dogs intent on breeding.  These situations often become dangerous.

Unsterilized cats create neighborhood disturbances with loud vocalizations during the breeding season.  Unwanted litters are born with high death rates for the kittens.  If left unsocialized, these cats become feral and establish colonies that can cause public health concerns for residents.  The County’s policy on free-roaming cats is referenced below.

By spaying or neutering your pet, you are helping solve the problem of pet overpopulation, protecting your pet from potential harm, and ensuring a safer community.

Spaying or Neutering is Mandatory for Dogs

The Los Angeles County Code (Section 10.20.350) requires all residents of unincorporated areas in Los Angeles County to have their dogs spayed or neutered and have an identification microchip implanted.  This ordinance applies to all dogs over the age of four months kept in unincorporated (non-city) areas of Los Angeles County.  A number of local cities have adopted this ordinance as well (referenced below). 

Exemptions to the Ordinance

There are exemptions to the Ordinance as some dogs cannot be spayed or neutered for certain reasons.  They are:

  1. Dogs that are unable to be spayed or neutered without a high likelihood of suffering serious bodily harm or death due to age or infirmity.  Written confirmation from a licensed veterinarian is required to qualify for this exception.
  2. Dogs used by law enforcement agencies for law enforcement purposes.
  3. Service or assistance dogs that assist disabled persons.
  4. Competition dogs.  A Competition Dog is a dog which is used to show, to compete, or to breed that is of a breed recognized by and registered with the American Kennel Club (AKC), United Kennel Club (UKC), American Dog Breeders Association (ADBA), or other approved breed registries.  The dog or owner must also meet ONE of the following requirements:
    1. The dog has competed in at least one dog show or sporting competition sanctioned by a national registry or approved by the department within the last 365 days; or
    2. The dog has earned a conformation, obedience, agility, carting, herding, protection, rally, sporting, working, or other title from a purebred dog registry referenced above or other registry or dog sport association approved by the department; or
    3. The owner or custodian of the dog is a member of a department‑approved purebred dog breed clubs, which maintains and enforces a code of ethics for dog breeding that includes restrictions from breeding dogs with genetic defects and life threatening health problems that commonly threaten the breed.

If you believe your dog meets one of these exemptions, please complete and return an Exemption Application.

Low-Cost Assistance

The Department offers a low-cost voucher program for senior citizens and low‑income residents who have a State-issued Golden State Advantage Card used for public assistance.

The Department also partners with providers to conduct low-cost spay and neuter mobile clinics for dogs and cats at our County animal care centers (as space allows) and other locations. 

Fines and Penalties

Failing to comply with the spay/neuter ordinance is an infraction punishable by a fine not to exceed $250.  If the owner fails to correct the underlying cause of the violation within 30 days after being notified of the violation, it shall be deemed a second violation.  A second violation is a misdemeanor punishable by imprisonment in County jail for a period not to exceed six months or by a fine not to exceed $1,000, or by both such fine and imprisonment.  Each subsequent violation shall be considered an additional misdemeanor.