NEW YORK— The ASPCA® (The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals®) applauds Maryland legislators for passing Senate Bill 820 to establish a statewide spay/neuter program and prevent untold animal suffering. Sponsored by Sen. Joanne C. Benson (D-24), the state House passed the bill by a landslide vote of 115-23 earlier today, approving the creation of one of the nation’s most robustly funded spay/neuter programs, and now awaits the signature of Governor Martin O’Malley. The new program will be funded by a $100 surcharge on commercial pet food brands registered in the state and is expected to generate approximately $1 million each year by the third year of the program’s inception. The new law will become effective October 1, 2013.
"Maryland shelters currently take in 100,000 animals each year, and approximately 45,000 of those animals are tragically euthanized simply because there are not enough people to adopt them," said Ann Church, vice president of state affairs for the ASPCA. "We applaud the Maryland General Assembly for moving this hallmark legislation forward, and we urge Governor O’Malley to sign this much-needed program into law to combat pet overpopulation and significantly reduce animal suffering."
SB 820 was the result of a legislative task force study which examined the seriousness of the state’s pet overpopulation problem. The task force revealed its findings in December 2012, citing cost as a significant boundary for spay/neuter surgeries and identifying the major successes of programs that have addressed this issue in other states. For example, after adopting a spay/neuter program, New Jersey has seen a 42 percent reduction in the dog and cat impoundment rate, and New Hampshire has benefited from a 77 percent reduction in euthanasia rates since its program’s inception in 1994.
"Several states have already proven that a reliable and sustainable funding source can curb pet overpopulation and reduce euthanasia rates, and now Maryland has the opportunity to create the best funded spay/neuter program in the country," said Church. "The leadership of the bill sponsors, Senator Joanne Benson and Delegate Barbara Frush, and task force leaders skillfully guided this bill throughout the legislative process. Their work will benefit animals and community animal control efforts throughout the state for years to come."
Others states that have instituted spay/neuter programs include Delaware, which is funded by a $3 surcharge on rabies vaccines, and Maine, which has a pet food fee, with additional funding coming from pet store fees, a dog license surcharge, and a tax check-off.
For more information on the ASPCA and to join the ASPCA Advocacy Brigade, please visit www.aspca.org.