SACRAMENTO (CBS13) — A Sacramento animal shelter is defending its actions after being accused of violating the law by adopting some animals out before they’ve been spayed or neutered.

Sacramento animal-lover Moira Monahan is worried that the city could be making pet overpopulation worse.

“The animals need to be spayed or neutered first before they leave the door,” she said.

But at the Front Street Animal Shelter, that’s not always the case.

“We’ve taken some calculated risks I guess,” said shelter director Gina Knepp.

She says the adoption program at Front Street has been so successful that they’ve had to adapt by adopting dogs and cats that haven’t been fixed, as long as new owners promise to bring them back for surgery.

With adoption rates up 60 percent in the last three years, the shelter says it’s a move born out of necessity.

“We’ve only when we’ve absolutely had to,” Knepp said. “Otherwise an animal may have to sit here for four to six weeks, and if that occurs then animals coming in have no place to stay and our kill rate goes up.”

Monahan isn’t buying it, saying there’s a reason it’s against the law to adopt out animals that haven’t been fixed.

“The people can have the best intentions that they will bring it back to get spayed or neutered at the end of September, but the animal escapes, goes out the front door or goes over the fence and then you end up having more animals,” she said.

The shelter has a brand-new surgery unit to spay and neuter, but with so many adoptions, its one full-time vet sometimes has trouble keeping up. For now, the money just isn’t there for more.

But Monahan says budget constraints should not be an excuse for potentially allowing unwanted breeding.

“We certainly don’t need more animals. The shelter is struggling to keep up with the intake that it has.” she said.

The shelter says it hasn’t had a problem with people returning pets for surgery, because there’s a stiff $500 fine will stop that.

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