Spay Neuter: Legislators Propose Bill to Reduce Homeless Animal Problem
The Director of the Carroll County Humane Society served on the Governor's Spay Neuter Task force which helped facilitate the creation of the bill being considered.
by Caroline Woodall, Capital News Service
Supporters of legislation that would create a special fund to support spay/neuter services in the state through a surcharge on registration fees paid by the makers of pet food sold in Maryland, recently made their case before the House Environmental Matters Committee.
The bill would create a voucher program for financially qualified individuals, and establish a competitive grant program for organizations and local governments that facilitate and promote spay and neuter services.
More than 96,000 animals enter shelters in Maryland each year, and only half of them make it out alive.
Carroll County Humane Society Director Nikki Ratliff was a member of the Governor's Spay Neuter Task Force that facilitated the introduction of the Bills currently being debated.
"We can't adopt our way out of the huge cat over-population problem which is why I made those many trips to Annapolis, in an effort to get money needed for more spaying and neutering programs," Ratliff told Patch.
The goal of the bill is to lower the euthanasia rate in the state by reducing the homeless animal population. Maryland currently destroys 45,000 cats and dogs to a tune of $8-9 million a year, making the homeless pet problem very costly.
The surcharge would add $100 onto commercial animal feed manufacturers registration costs annually.
Homeless animals come with an increased risk of spreading diseases and rabies, and spay and neuter can reduce those risks, along with the risk of dog bites according to the CDC, AVMA, USPS, and Insurance Information Institute.
At the SPCA in Annapolis, Spay and Neuter Clinic Worker Kirstyn Cobb said ailments like mammary tumors and testicular cancer can be common in homeless animals.
"When you spay and neuter your animal, you definitely reduce those risks," Cobb said.
And with cats at the age of six months capable of producing two litters of up to eight cats per year, the solution is obvious to Shelter Manager Margaret Bowers.
"It is very difficult to manage it, and the only way to do that is spay and neuter," Bowers said.
Ratliff, from the Carroll County Humane Society, said they are able to place all friendly dogs and puppies they receive except for the really old or very ill. The same isn't true for cats and kittens.
"We are not able to place anywhere near enough cats and kittens," Ratliff said. "We generally get in almost 3,000 a year."
Patch editor Kym Byrnes contributed to this story.