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Low Cost Spay/Neuter Program in Maryland’s Future?

The Maryland Legislative Spay and Neuter Task Force reconvened October 2nd in preparation for the 2013 Legislative Session. The Task Force was created by an act of the Maryland General Assembly in 2011 and signed into law by Governor Martin O’Malley. Under the leadership of Del. Barbara Frush and Sen. Joanne Benson the Task Force reviewed an analysis of a data from a sampling of Maryland Animal Control facilities and shelters and heard testimony and reviewed evidence on practices in other states including Virginia, New Jersey, and New Hampshire.

Results of the Report and evidence reviewed substantiate prior testimony to the Task Force on Maryland’s urgent need for a statewide spay/neuter program to reduce shelter intake and euthanasia rates in Maryland. The Report indicates approximately 1/2 of the cats and 1/3 of the dogs in Maryland’s shelter populations are euthanized for reasons other than owner requested euthanasia. The information presented at today’s meeting supports the findings of an earlier survey presented to the Task Force in 2011 that found Maryland shelters must kill over 45,000 cats and dogs every year to address the homeless pet problem. That report showed 34,660 cats and 10,477 dogs were killed in 2011, which number does not include additional dogs and cats euthanized at owner request.

The intake, housing, and killing of these animals is costing Maryland taxpayers millions of dollars. A statewide spay/neuter program has huge potential to benefit animals, the State of Maryland, and Maryland taxpayers.

Research presented to the Task Force indicated that low pet sterilization rates are associated with higher shelter intake rates plus a higher incidence of dog bite injuries. Studies reported by the ASPCA show that over 70 percent of dog bite cases involve unneutered male dogs; an unneutered male dog is 2.6 times more likely to bite than is a neutered dog; and 97 percent of dogs involved in fatal dog attacks in 2006 were not spayed/neutered.

Kilborn notes “It is clear Maryland cannot adopt its way out of the homeless pet population problem – it is simply too large. As a result our shelters are being forced to euthanize cats and dogs as a means of population control. This is not acceptable and the homeless pet population must be reduced through a statewide spay/neuter program that will reduce intake and euthanasia rates for our overburdened facilities and shelters.”

The model program in New Hampshire that was reviewed included impressive statistics from their statewide spay and neuter program, including a 30% drop in dog and cat euthanasias in just one year. After 5 years, the NH euthanasia rates dropped 75%.

Kilborn believes “Maryland can similarly reduce its euthanasia rate and the number of animals killed if the Maryland General Assembly passes a statewide spay and neuter program in Maryland.

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