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Pet-Food Fee Could Fund Spay-Neuter Clinics In New Mexico

Nearly 70,000 homeless dogs and cats die in New Mexico animal shelters each year. (americanhumane.org)
Nearly 70,000 homeless dogs and cats die in New Mexico animal shelters each year. (americanhumane.org)
February 8, 2018

SANTA FE, N.M. — Animal rights advocates want New Mexico to join three other states that use pet food registration fees to fund animal spay and neuter services.

A bill now before senators would charge pet food companies $100, rather than the current $2, to register their dog or cat food product lines. Supporters say the increased fee could create more opportunities for low-income residents to get their cats and dogs spayed and neutered.

Jessica Johnson, chief legislative officer with Animal Protection New Mexico, said with the full Senate now scheduled to hear the bill, it appears lawmakers understand how serious the problem is.

"New Mexico legislators can see what's really happening on the ground in terms of the numbers of animals that we euthanize every year in New Mexico - almost 70,000 homeless dogs and cats die in our shelters,” Johnson said. “And we're spending tax dollars to do it, to kill these perfectly healthy animals."

Opponents of the bill say the registration fees will be passed on to retailers and punish smaller businesses and less wealthy pet owners. According to Johnson, the latest data shows each New Mexico pet owner would pay about $1.50 more for pet food each year.

Several other states including Maine, Maryland and most recently West Virginia have passed similar legislation to raise funds for spay and neutering services. Johnson said New Mexico has far more homeless animals than those states, likely because of its vast expanse of land that allows for more free-roaming, stray and feral animals.

"We have yet to talk to someone that has said that they aren't willing to spend a few extra cents on their dog food or their cat treats in order to save lives and know that they're going to end up saving tax dollars in the long run as we start to get control of the pet overpopulation problem,” she said.

Johnson noted that while many pet owners may want to spay or neuter their animals, many counties in New Mexico don't have a veterinarian who could perform the service.

Roz Brown, Public News Service - NM