PHILADELPHIA (CBS) – With dogged determination, animal rights advocates watched on Thursday as a Philadelphia City Council committee approved a measure that puts some bite into the city’s dog control laws.

The measure encourages both dog licensing and neutering. Included in the measure is a new requirement on groups or organizations that sell dogs or put them up for adoption that any dog released must be neutered.

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Dana Spain, founder of the Philadelphia Animal Welfare Society (“PAWS”), is delighted.

“The spay/neuter components — specifically requiring alteration surgery before animals are released by a pet store, breeder or rescue — are tantamount to stemming the tide of overpopulation in our city shelters,” she told KYW Newsradio.

Guide dogs and show breeds are exempted from the neutering requirement.

Also in the measure is a requirement that all veterinarians must ask for a dog license during an exam.  If the owner doesn’t produce one, they’d be given the chance to sign up then and there.  If they won’t, the vet must notify the city.

Dogs are currently required to be licensed in Philadelphia but officials estimate only about four percent are.

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Spain, who spent five years working on the legislation, says licenses are vital.

“It facilitates the return of a dog that may get loose to its owner, instead of going to a shelter environment,” she says.  “It allows us, in the case of bites or strays, to track back to the owners.  And it also brings much needed funds into the animal control system.”

And owners would have a slight incentive for neutering: the license fee would be $16 for neutered dogs, $40 for those that are not.

The bill is expected to be approved by the full City Council later this month and signed by the mayor.

Reported by KYW Newsradio City Hall Bureau chief Mike Dunn.

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