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Tuesday, February 5, 2002 - Page updated at 12:00 AM

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City may require pet neutering

Times Snohomish County reporter

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About two weeks after Angel's adoption, her new Lynnwood family noticed she was pudging out.

Then one morning the husky-mix's teats swelled with milk, her weight suddenly shifted down into her belly, and the McCraneys realized they'd gotten more than they paid for with the $25 adoption fee.

Now Angel and her seven puppies are poster children for the animal-rights community, which wants the Edmonds City Council to require that animals picked up in the city, like Angel, be neutered before they are adopted.

"From Lynnwood down to Olympia, every single (public) shelter spays and neuters their animal prior to adoption," said Richard Huffman, spokesman for the Lynnwood-based Progressive Animal Welfare Society. "PAWS has been doing it since the Johnson administration."

In Edmonds, however, city animal-control officers take animals to Adix's Bed & Bath for Dogs and Cats, a private business that has contracted with Edmonds and Mountlake Terrace for the past four years. Last year, about half of the 150 animals adopted out by Adix's were neutered.

Adix's opposes the proposed ordinance, scheduled for a vote tonight, and has threatened to end its contract if the city requires neutering. Co-owner Lynn Adix said she thinks a majority of the council respects her right to operate her business without interference.

"I believe in spaying and neutering, as a private citizen,'' she said. "But I'm not a shelter ... It's not my job to dictate to the community what they can and can't do with the animals."

Adix offers no apologies for the situation with Angel, who was adopted Dec. 7. "It's never happened before. It's one of those freak things," she said.

When Adix's adopts out animals, it hands new owners an information sheet with a recommendation to take the animal to a veterinarian within 48 hours, and a list of the benefits of spaying and neutering pets. If new owners "fix" their animals, Adix's promises a free pet bath.

Angel's pregnancy would have been discovered immediately if the McCraneys had taken her to a vet, Adix said. At that point, the kennel would have taken her back, birthed the puppies and adopted them out too, she said.

Edmonds City Councilman Michael Plunkett has tried for a year to craft an ordinance acceptable to Adix and his fellow council members, who don't want to jeopardize the city's $20,400-per-year contract with the kennel.

If the city loses Adix, the only other option would be to contract with the city of Everett, which would be inconvenient for residents and more expensive.

As now written, the ordinance says animals retained by the city's animal shelter "should" be altered before adoption. It also sets up a fund to create $25 vouchers for neutering animals within the city. Seed money is to include $2,000 in city funds plus $1,000 from PAWS.

"We as a city have some responsibility to protect the health and public safety of our community," Plunkett said. "By allowing approximately 65 unaltered animals a year to be adopted out we are thereby, because of litters, putting out hundreds of animals every year into the community."

Councilwoman Deanna Dawson says, "The debate is more about how can you tell somebody how to run their private business."

Mountlake Terrace Mayor Pat Cordova said that if Edmonds changes its contract with Adix her city might follow suit.

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