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Stemming the Tide

New law funds spay-neutering with pet food surcharge

To combat shelter overpopulation and reduce the number of homeless animals euthanized, the Maryland General Assembly has passed the Animal Welfare-Spay/Neuter Fund-Establishment bill. Annual taxpayers savings of $8 to $9 million are projected.
    The measure, which provides grant funding to rescue groups, shelters and animal control agencies, was developed by a task force appointed by Gov. Martin O’Malley in 2011. It recommended a program model used in other states, generating funds by a surcharge on the fee that pet food producers already pay to sell their products in the state.
    A $20 billion business, the pet food industry was judged the most reliable and fair source for sustainable funding. (If manufacturers pass on the cost, maximum impact on individuals is estimated at 36 cents per pet per year.)
    The projected $1 million in revenue will be collected and administered by Maryland Department of Agriculture. A grant pool of $850,000 will provide critical veterinary services to pet owners who otherwise could not afford them. The remaining $150,000 is planned for educational outreach and administrative costs.
    A coalition of more than 80 organizations, agencies, businesses and individuals lobbied for passage of this legislation.
    O’Malley is expected to sign the bill, with the law going into effect in October.