Saving Companion Animals’ Lives

An important bill is being considered in Washington state which would help with spay/neuter costs for ferals and pets owned by low income people. Spay/Neuter is the best way to prevent overpopulation and cut down on the euthanasia rate of area shelters.

From Pamela Brumell of FCAT’s blog:

Senate Bill 5151/House Bill 1226: Saving Companion Animals’ Lives

The Washington State Legislature is now considering a bill that will help low-income pet owners of Washington State, save animals’ lives, and protect the general public at the same time. (Senate Bill 5151 / House Bill 1226. Currently in committee.)

What will Bill 5151/1226 will do if enacted?

This bill, if passed into law, will levy a small fee on cat and dog food at the rate of $0.025 (that’s 2 and a half cents) per pound. This would be $1.25 for a 50-pound bag of food. The monies collected will be put in a dedicated fund that will subsidize the costs of spaying and neutering of cats and dogs by participating veterinarians.

The program will benefit low-income Washingtonians wishing to spay or neuter their pets. Under the program, the cost will be $20 for dogs and $10 for cats. Proof-of-income requirements on pet owners will not be burdensome. Feral cats will be eligible for free spay and neutering.

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. For that reason alone, spay/neuter legislation will save Washington’s cities and counties millions of dollars in animal control costs and lower the number healthy, adoptable dogs and cat that are put to death over the long run.

Why is this bill so important for FCAT, FAF and other animal support groups?

Currently organizations that help animals (groups like FCAT and FAF) have to spend much of their already thinly spread resources on spaying and neutering costs. Even though we have vets in Seattle who are willing to give us a price break, we are still spending more time than we’d like carting individual animals to Seattle and back home. If 5151 passes, people in small towns will be able to take animals in by themselves, and this will free up FCAT and FAF to concentrate on larger colonies of feral cats anywhere in Washington.

Working with larger colonies of animals is where our resources are best used, and this is where more of them will be used if 5151 passes.

Please contact your local representatives and tell them to support 5151/1226. It’s an easy win for FCAT and FAF, a win for the people of Washington State, and a win for the animals.

Your representatives in the 34th District:

More info on SB5151 and what you can do to help:

WS Blog member DP contributed to this post.


comments by others:

“Similar programs have been established in other states, including Connecticut, Delaware, Illinois, 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.”

These animals and owners desperately need the help. In thinking about the cats that FAF has only recently helped:

  • 11 were from a family that became homeless (only one cat was altered)
  • a colony of 25 that began two years ago from three friendly cats–owners have no money–food is provided with FAF donations
  • two kittens and two adult cats taken from a woman unable to care for them after she entered a rehab facility

All of these cats were unaltered because the owners simply could not afford the surgery fees of most veterinary clinics.

The purpose of the bill is to provide funding to assist low-income owners of cats and dogs to obtain affordable spay/neuter surgeries, and to provide for spay/neuter surgeries on feral and free-roaming cats. The bill does not make spay/neuter surgery mandatory.

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