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Statewide Spay/Neuter Program Bill Introduced
Announce broad coalition supporting legislation
The Humane Society of the United States and Maryland Votes for Animals applaud the introduction of S.B. 820/H.B. 767 to establish a spay/neuter fund in Maryland to provide grants for community spay/neuter programs and vouchers for Maryland residents who otherwise could not afford spay/neuter services. These efforts will reduce animal shelter overpopulation and euthanasia rates.
A task force created by the General Assembly and appointed by Gov. Martin O’Malley to study animal euthanasia found there is an unnecessary loss of animal life in Maryland due to shelter overpopulation. The task force found that 96,000 pets enter Maryland shelters yearly, and more than 45,000 homeless cats and dogs are euthanized each year at an estimated cost of $8 to $9 million taxpayer dollars ($175-$200 per animal). The task force found that increasing spay/neuter services would reduce or eliminate the overpopulation and euthanasia rate in Maryland’s overwhelmed shelters.
The task force also found that cost is a significant barrier for low-income pet owners in having their pets sterilized, and that reaching under-served populations is the most effective way to reduce intake and euthanasia rates in shelters.
“The Humane Society of the United States is so grateful to members of the Maryland General Assembly for taking a serious look at this tragic reality, and for crafting legislation based on the best practices around the country,” said Tami Santelli, Maryland state director for The HSUS. “States that have implemented comprehensive spay/neuter programs have seen a substantial decrease in the number of animals entering shelters and being euthanized.”
Del. Barbara Frush, D-Anne Arundel and Prince George’s counties, and Sen. Joanne Benson, D-Prince George County introduced S.B. 820 and H.B 767.
Del. Frush, who co-chaired the task force said, “Over the last 18 months, our task force studied spay/neuter programs from around the country, and we have identified the model that will work best for the State of Maryland. The Maryland spay/neuter program has the potential to be one of the best in the nation and I am thrilled to introduce H.B. 767 which will help save the lives of so many animals.”
Sen. Benson stated, “Increasing spay/neuter services in Maryland not only saves lives, it also saves money. Municipal animal control agencies spend millions of dollars each year on intake, housing, and euthanizing cats and dogs. Marylanders want to see their taxpayer dollars used for programs that are humane and that work.”
Carolyn Kilborn, chair of Maryland Votes for Animals, praised this landmark legislation: “It is time for Maryland to replace the current antiquated system of mass euthanasia with a statewide fund to support spay/neuter services. This bill is crucial to reducing Maryland’s unacceptably high euthanasia rate. The Maryland spay/neuter bill is fiscally responsible, humane, and is good public policy for Maryland. These programs work; they are proven to be the best antidote to mass euthanasia. It is time for Maryland to pass this legislation now and start saving lives today.”
S.B. 820 has 14 sponsors in the Senate and H.B. 767 has 56 sponsors in the House of Delegates. The bills are supported by a broad coalition of animal shelters, animal control agencies, animal protection organizations, veterinarians, businesses and individuals. For more information on the coalition, visit savemarylandpets.org.
- The bills would generate funding for the program from a surcharge on existing manufacturer pet food registration fees, a funding source recommended by the task force as reliable, sustainable and fair—and used for a similar program in Maine. Additionally, this funding source is widely supported by Marylanders, according to a report provided to the task force by Dr. E.J. Lamp, even if the surcharge is passed on to consumers at an estimated cost of $0.36/pet/year.
- The task force found that other states have seen dramatic reductions in intake and euthanasia rates after passing spay/neuter bills. For example, New Jersey witnessed a 61 percent decrease and New Hampshire over a 75 percent decrease in state euthanasia rates after implementing similar programs.
- These states have also seen significant cost savings after implementing programs; for example, New Hampshire taxpayers saved $3.15 in impoundment costs for intake, housing and euthanasia for every dollar invested in prevention.
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