statewide spay neuter: Delaware
This is the recommended type of statewide spay/neuter program and legislation -- mandatory pre-adoption spay/neuter program for cats and dogs and a spay/neuter fund. Such a program requires spay/neuter by pet adoption sources rather than mandatory spay/neuter by the public. Several national animal protection experts have stated for years that statewide legislation or local ordinances requiring the public to spay/neuter are punitive and not effective.
Text and history of bill
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Spay or neuter adopted pets -- it's the law
State tries to ease overpopulation
The News Journal, DE - July 10, 2006
By ANGIE BASIOUNY
The News Journal
If you want to take Fluffy home from the animal shelter, he'll have to be fixed first.
Delaware has a new state law requiring any cat or dog adopted from a shelter, rescue organization or other animal welfare group to be spayed or neutered and inoculated against rabies before it heads to a new home.
House Bill 425, which was signed into law June 29 by Gov. Ruth Ann Minner, also sets aside $50,000 this year to help low-income residents with the costs of sterilizing adopted pets.
To continue the program, veterinarians will start collecting a $3 surcharge on each rabies shot given after Sept. 1.
The bill is an effort to control the rising number of unwanted dogs and cats that are euthanized every year in Delaware.
About 61 percent -- or 13,067 -- of the 21,254 dogs and cats collected at Delaware's primary animal facilities in 2005 were euthanized. Only 2,299 animals were retrieved by their owners and 5,837 were adopted.
"This bill is a monumental accomplishment for the pets of our state," said Jane Pierantozzi, executive director of the Faithful Friends animal welfare agency. "It's long overdue. It's so important because for years we've managed the pet overpopulation problem through traditional control, which is picking them up and euthanasia. This is a more effective way."
Pierantozzi was part of a team of animal advocates, veterinarians and government officials who crafted the legislation, which was an idea from the Attorney General's Task Force on Animal Cruelty.
The law is welcomed by animal lovers such as Wilmington resident Sam Hirzel.
"I think it's very good, though I'm not sure that's the best way to go about paying for it," he said, referring to the $3 surcharge. "Probably the best way to do it would be to increase the licensing fees."
Hirzel thinks Delaware, especially New Castle County, offers a great quality of life for pets. He points to the numerous dog parks where he can let his pup play off-leash. Spaying and neutering, he said, is a must.
Pierantozzi said they modeled the legislation after a similar law in New Hampshire, which led to a 45 percent drop in the number of euthanized animals after seven years.
New Hampshire was picking up 22,000 animals a year and euthanizing 11,500, according to information collected by the task force. That state now picks up 12,000 animals a year and euthanizes 2,500.
The Humane Society of the United States last week commended Delaware for the legislation, calling it one of the most comprehensive mandatory pre-adoption laws in the nation.
Under the new law:
• Another $50,000 is provided to hire a manager and pay for support costs to administer the spay-neuter program for low-income residents through the Department of Agriculture. The price of the service has not been set, but is expected to be between $10 and $20.
• Anyone receiving food stamps, Medicaid, Social Security disability or benefits from similar programs meets the low-income standards.
• Residents wanting to adopt a dog or cat that is younger than 6 months old must pay a $75 deposit that is refundable upon proof that sterilization has been completed within five months.
• Dogs or cats with health problems that would prevent them from safely undergoing sterilization surgery are exempted, with veterinary approval.
• Falsification of proof of eligibility in the low-income program or false information provided to a veterinarian about an animal is a misdemeanor punishable by a $250 fine. Failure to comply with the sterilization law would carry a fine of $250 for the pet owner and $500 for the adoption agency.
• Participating veterinarians will be entitled to a tax credit of $50 for each combined sterilization and inoculation.
The Department of Agriculture will begin mailings to low-income residents to let them know about the low-cost spay-neuter fund.
"All the literature and the research shows us that it's not that low-income pet owners don't want to spay and neuter, a lot of them simply can't afford it," animal advocate Kathy Gallagher said.
Gallagher, a feral cat rescuer, said the law will bring about great change in Delaware.
"For years the state has been investing money in animal control," she said. "But we need a systemic solution to the problem. And this is a systemic solution."
Contact Angie Basiouny at 324-2796 or email@example.com.