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ANIMAL SERVICES

New funds will increase spay/neuter capability

Posted

Beginning July 1, a new funding stream will start flowing to facilitate low-cost spay/neuter initiatives across the state.

The funds will be the result of Senate Bill 57, sponsored by Rep. Joanne Ferrary, D-Las Cruces, and Sen. Jacob Candelaria, D-Albuquerque, and then signed into law by Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham.

Senate Bill 57 covers costs of spay and neuter services for lower-income families looking to take care of their pets, as well as delivers funds to struggling animal shelters around the state.

Trina Hadden, medical director at the Animal Services Center of the Mesilla Valley (ASCMV), said the funding will be of significant value to the entire state, and it dovetails nicely with plans for the current ASCMV building to be converted to a medical facility once the new ASCMV building is completed next year.

Under the new law, pet food manufacturers with annual gross revenue of $3 million or more will pay a $100 fee per year for dog food, cat food and pet treat brands sold in New Mexico. This fee is on par with what these companies pay in several other states. The fee does not apply to livestock feed or any other animal feed or prescription diets, nor does it directly affect retailers or consumers. 

“This law is going to be a game changer for humane treatment of dogs and cats in our communities,” Ferrary said. “With statewide access to low-cost spay and neuter, soon less resources will need to be spent on caring for overpopulation problems. We will eventually be able to provide better care for pets that are lost, injured or need rehoming.”

Hadden said the ASCMV can do about 75 operations each week, but that amount “barely keeps up with adoptions and fosters.”

When the building is repurposed as a high-quality, high-volume spay/neuter facility next year, she said surgeries could jump to as many as 180 each week. She said the plan is to offer the services only to low-income families so as not to compete with area veterinary practices.

In addition, Hadden said, the ASCMV will ramp up its educational initiatives to help people understand the benefits of spay/neuter.

“There are several medical reasons to spay/neuter, in addition to the obvious population-control issues,” she said. “Both males and females, once altered, have a lower prevalence of certain cancers. Altering a female alleviates the potential of a life-threatening condition called pyometra. I think community outreach into the schools is the best way to begin to educate the community. Children will take the information home and begin the discussion with their parents. It will be a culture shift.”

Hadden said the ASCMV performed 20,921 surgeries during the last five years. More than doubling the annual surgery capacity, she said, will result in fewer intakes to the facility over time, and she predicts the new funding stream will make lower intakes a reality statewide.