Support the spay/neuter bill in Washington State

Please support this bill to help end overpopulation and the killing of cats and dogs in our shelters every year.

See Save Washington Pets for more information.

Do we have to kill nearly 50 percent of the animals that go into Washington’s shelters, year after year?

Homelessness is the single leading cause of death for healthy cats and dogs in the United States. About five million animals are killed in our country’s shelters each year.

In Washington State, a survey of shelters revealed that over 60,000 cats and dogs were reported euthanized in Washington shelters in 2005. The number of animals actually euthanized is higher, since only one third of the survey recipients responded. Between 2001 and 2005, large shelters that consistently responded to the survey reported euthanizing between 45 and 48 percent of the animals brought to them each year. The euthanasia rate has remained at these levels for the last several years.

It’s not just a matter of being humane. It costs a lot of money to handle homeless animals in shelters and through animal control agencies and rescue organizations. Washington State taxpayers spend millions of dollars each year to handle these animals.

The Sensible Solution

Spay/Neuter. The most effective and humane way to reduce the number of animals dying in shelters is a targeted, statewide spay/neuter program.

Senate Bill 5329/House Bill 1406 Will:

  • reduce the killing of homeless cats and dogs through an effective, targeted statewide spay/neuter network
  • reduce the burden on shelters, rescue organizations, and other public and non-profit animal welfare organizations that are overwhelmed with cats and dogs needing care and good homes and thereby reduce the costs to Washington taxpayers;
  • reduce injuries and death, costs, and liability resulting from dog attacks, through financial support for spay/neuter surgeries; and
  • save lives and humanely reduce the population of free-roaming, homeless, and feral cats through spay/neuter surgeries.

How This Will Be Accomplished

Using a network of private, public, and non-profit clinics and services around the state, spay/neuter surgeries will be performed on the categories of animals most significantly contributing to the overpopulation crisis: cats and dogs belonging to low-income residents of Washington, and free-roaming or feral cats.

There are an estimated 1.66 million to 1.86 million unaltered cats and dogs in Washington State. The goal of the bill is to help fund 70,000 or more spay/neuter surgeries per year under this program. The majority of surgeries would be performed on cats and dogs belonging to low-income residents of Washington. Low-income pet owners are the least likely to be able to afford spay/neuter surgery costs for their pets, and are most likely to own pets that have unplanned litters of kittens or puppies.

The estimated cost of this program is $11.56 million per year. The program would be funded by a fee on pet foods distributed in Washington state. The fee would not be applied at the retail level. The direct cost impact of the fee on a 5.5- ounce can of pet food would be less than one cent. The direct impact of the fee on a one-pound bag of pet food would be less than three cents.

The Benefits

Similar programs have been established in other states, including Connecticut, Delaware, Ilinois, Maine, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, and Vermont. The New Hampshire program was started in 1994 and in its first few years a 34-percent decrease in shelter admissions and a 75-percent decrease in euthanasia were reported. New Hampshire has also reported a savings from animal impoundment costs due to its program. As these states have shown, there is a better way to address the pet overpopulation crisis. An aggressive spay/neuter program is the more humane and effective solution.

Ending euthanasia of healthy dogs and cats is the primary goal of the bill. However, there are other key benefits to establishing a statewide spay/neuter program.

Reduced animal care and control, and shelter costs. Controlling the cat and dog population will help save taxpayers’ dollars by reducing the number of animals handled by local animal care and control agencies. One Washington shelter reported the average cost to handle an animal is $93. Stray animal pickup and delivery to the shelter costs an additional $150 to $200. For every animal that is not handled by animal control or shelters, the savings can be significant.

Reduced dog bites, suffering, and costs. Nearly two percent of the US population, or 4.7 million people are bitten by dogs each year. In 2003, the Insurance Information Institute reported that dog bites accounted for a quarter of all homeowner’s liability claims, totaling $321.6 million. In 2007, the claims total had risen to $356 million. Research has shown that unaltered dogs are much more likely to cause human injury from bites than altered dogs. A study using data collected in Multnomah County, Oregon, showed that unaltered female dogs were about ten times as likely to be reported for bite injuries than spayed female dogs, while unaltered male dogs were about seven times as likely to be reported for bite injuries than neutered male dogs. (Overall, male dogs were more likely to cause bite injuries than female dogs.) Although several factors are related to dog bite incidents, the status of dogs as either intact or spayed/neutered is significant. By increasing the spaying and neutering of dogs by making surgery accessible and affordable, we can expect a reduced number of dog bites and injuries, less pain and suffering, lost time, legal costs, and liability.

We Need Your Help!

What can you do?

  • Contact your legislator! To find your legislator see District Finder. This bill is in committee right now and two of the legislators in that committee are Brian Blake 360-786-7870 and Brian Hatfield 360-786-7636.

  • Check out Save Washington’s Pets website to help them promote this bill.

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