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New Animal Control Director Says Spaying Policy Looks At 'Broader Picture'

Maricopa County Animal Care & Control has resumed spaying full-term pregnant dogs and cats.

Puppies and kittens don’t survive the procedure.

The former county manager ordered a halt to spaying pregnant dogs in 2014. The decision remained in place until recently, when Mary Martin took over as director of animal control.

The rate of adult dogs and cats that enter the county system is greater than the number of adoptions, and the resulting lack of space leads to more euthanasia procedures, Martin said.

“When people focus on puppies or kittens, and not see the broader picture for all those other animals, it’s very painful,” Martin said.

Some question if spaying a full-term dog or cat is animal cruelty.

Dr. Steven Hansen, president and CEO of the Arizona Humane Society, doesn’t think the decision violates any laws.

“It really does come down to resources and the big picture of how can more lives be saved,” Hansen said. “I’m pretty confident that that’s why that policy is currently in place.”

The Humane Society does not spay full-or-near-term dogs, Hansen said. Instead, it relies on foster homes where puppies are born, and then the organization adopts them.

Hansen suggests people unhappy with the county’s decision work to build a network of foster homes. If volunteers get the animals vaccinated and sterilized, they'd be in high demand for adoption, Hansen said. 

Matthew Casey has won Edward R. Murrow awards for hard news and sports reporting since he joined KJZZ as a senior field correspondent in 2015.