Wilk’s bill aimed at reducing animal shelter overcrowding headed to Assembly

Sen. Scott Wilk (R-Santa Clarita) announced his bill to help reduce overcrowding at animal shelters across the state, by expanding access to low and no-cost spay/neuter services, was unanimously approved on the Senate floor last week.

“The overcrowding crisis at our animal shelters, especially in the High Desert, highlights the severe shortage of veterinarians available to perform critical spay and neuter services. We have a responsibility to address this issue,” said Senator Wilk. “This bill will help create a skilled workforce capable of performing those services, which will, in turn, reduce overcrowding, eliminate unnecessary euthanizations, and make it easier to find homes for pets in need.”

Senate Bill 1233 (SB 1233) would establish a framework for California’s two accredited schools of veterinary medicine at UC Davis and Western University of Health Sciences, to create a first-in-the-nation High-Quality High-Volume Spay/Neuter (HQHVSN) certification program. 

HQHVSN is a minimally invasive surgical technique that allows veterinarians to perform large numbers of spay and neuter procedures at low or no-cost.

Currently, California’s animal shelters cannot consistently provide spay and neuter services because it is often difficult for them to find a veterinarian to perform the surgery. A 2021 study from UC Davis estimated that 150,000 dogs and cats go un-spayed or un-neutered in California each year. As a result, about 100,000 animals are euthanized at animal shelters across the state, according to UC Davis’ Koret Shelter Medicine Program.

The overcrowding and euthanasia problem is felt deepest in the Antelope and Victor Valleys. Last year, the decades-old Victor Valley Animal Protective League suspended its operations. And the two shelters in the Antelope Valley, which are run by LA County and were originally built to help alleviate the crisis, now have the highest rates of dog euthanasia among other county facilities. 

SB 1233 will now be considered in the Assembly.