States provide the framework that local governments must keep in mind when crafting ordinances. Some states have laws that govern animal shelters, although many have little or no shelter registration, recordkeeping, or reporting requirements.


Alley Cat Allies fully supports the creation of state spay/neuter funds. Spay/neuter funds expand accessible, low-cost spay/neuter services and save lives. These funds also help caregivers carry out Trap-Neuter-Return (TNR). More than half of the states have already established such programs. The Maryland state legislature created a fund in 2014 that awards up to $1 million in grants annually to spay and neuter cats and dogs. In Maryland, the program is funded via a small fee on pet food dealers. States spend millions of dollars annually on sheltering and euthanizing healthy cats and dogs. Ultimately, these spay/neuter initiatives save taxpayers money because fewer animals enter shelters.

Spay/Neuter Prior to Adoption

Alley Cat Allies supports laws mandating that animal pounds and shelters spay or neuter impounded animals prior to releasing them to an adopter. Ensuring animals are sterilized prior to entering the community ensures that they will not contribute to the existing dog and cat population. Furthermore, some adopters are not aware that animals can begin breeding at very young ages and are surprised with unexpected litters.

Kittens can be spayed or neutered as early as eight weeks or when they reach two pounds. Endorsed by the American Veterinary Medical Association and the Association of Shelter Veterinarians and in practice in animal control pounds and shelters across the country, pediatric spay/ neuter surgery and the anesthesia associated with the surgery show no adverse effects on animals both in short- or long-term studies. Learn more about pediatric spay/neuter.


Millions of animals are killed in animal shelters annually, but many shelters do not record or report data on the intake and disposition of the animals in their care. The majority of states do not mandate such record keeping and reporting, or even require animal shelters to register. Alley Cat Allies urges every state to legislatively mandate recordkeeping and public reporting for animal shelters and pounds.

Shelters, advocacy groups, policy analysts, and governments can use this information to identify problem areas and develop solutions to address these issues. Developing effective strategies to reduce euthanasia rates requires comprehensive and accurate data. Transparency creates accountability to donors and taxpayers. Finally, transparency can increase community support for struggling shelters.

To this end, Alley Cat Allies supports legislation that requires all shelters, public and private, to keep detailed records on every animal entering their care and aggregate data on the number of animals impounded, adopted, euthanized, etc. This data should be posted on the shelter’s website monthly and reported to a central state agency annually. In turn, the state agency should analyze and disclose the data on its website. Learn more about Animal shelter transparency.


Intentionally killing an owned cat is prohibited in all 50 states and the District of Columbia. Anti-cruelty laws must protect every cat. It doesn’t matter whether the cat is a pet, a stray, or a community cat. But while every state has animal protection laws that prohibit the most egregious acts of violence against dogs and cats, most laws could be strengthened to create harsher penalties and expanded to capture any act of cruelty against an animal.

Even in states with robust anti-cruelty laws, enforcement remains the largest obstacle to reducing animal cruelty. Unfortunately, police officers and prosecutors sometimes fail to recognize that animal cruelty is a serious crime that negatively impacts the larger community. This is particularly true in situations involving violence.  This is why Alley Cat Allies frequently encourages communities, police officers, elected officials, prosecutors, and judges to take these crimes seriously. Alley Cat Allies has worked to bring cat killers to justice by offering rewards, organizing community members, and urging local authorities to thoroughly investigate these crimes and other allegations of cruelty. Learn more about anti-cruelty.